NAIFA - North Dakota  

President's Message


Local Reports

2010 State Convention






President Elect

Government Relations


Trustee Corner

Life Insurance Awareness Month


Dakota Advisor
Fall 2009


Presidents Message
by Keith Phillips, LUTCF

Let me begin by saying that I am truly honored to serve as your State President.  I realize that there will be many challenges that come with being President. I do however, believe that we will be able to accomplish many good things with the competent Executive Committee of Jeff Case, Pat Saltsman, Jay Burgad, Pat Hoffman and Ted Haugan. These individuals have shown their dedication and passion for NAIFA and I look forward to working with them this next year. I would especially like to thank Past President, Ted Haugan for his year serving us as President. When you see Ted, thank him. However, we cannot do this alone. We need your help, all of your help.

Here are some items that I feel are crucial to our Association;

  1. Membership - I know you have heard this before, but let me emphasize that we all have an obligation to see that our Association grows. Each year we have a number of members who leave the business due to retirement or for a variety of other reasons. It is crucial that we at least replace these members. Then, we must increase our membership so as to increase our clout regarding legislative issues. Also, increased membership brings additional revenues to our Association. This helps us to be able to do a better job achieving our various goals. Last year less than 5% of our members recruited a new member. We cannot continue to rely on so few people to increase our membership. We have a very capable state membership chair in Jason Middaugh, but he cannot do it by himself. Remember it is an obligation for each of us to assist in increasing membership.
  2. IFAPAC and Freedom Builder Fund - If you are not contributing to these funds, you need to ask yourself why. Better yet, call me and let me know why. Each year more and more legislation that is detrimental to our industry becomes closer to becoming a reality. Let's not wait until it is too late. It is much better to be proactive before rather than reactive later, wondering what just happened. For assistance, contact Jay Burgad regarding IFAPAC and Terry Weis regarding FBF.
  3. Read your NAIFA GovWatch. I realize that we are all flooded with emails from everywhere and everyone. I cannot stress enough the importance of you taking a few minutes to keep abreast of important pending legislation. In addition, it is extremely important to contact your state and federal elected officials regarding many of these issues. Dee Stroh is the chair of federal APIC and Jim Simons is the chair of the state APIC. Norbert Mayer will continue to  chair government relations.
    There are additional committees and committee chairs that are willing to assist you and your local Associations. Please refer to the state website for their names and contact information.
  4. Be involved - Support your local Association by attending meetings and lending a helping hand when needed. Offer to be a committee chair or assist a committee chair. We are only as strong and successful as we need to be if we all become involved.

    I would like to close by saying, I welcome all calls and emails. If you have a complaint, I can only address it if I know about it.

    NAIFA-ND can have a banner year if we All get involved.
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NAIFA-ND 2010 State Convention
   By Tim Deitemeyer

The 2010 State Convention is scheduled for April 28, 29, and 30th at the DoubleWood Inn in Fargo!!  Please mark this on your calendar and plan to attend, over the course of the last year we have all seen unbelievable changes in our industry.  This is an opportunity for us to come together and strengthen each other and defend this awesome career that helps and supports our families and the clients we serve!!
Here is what we are currently planning:
Golf tournament at the Meadows golf course in Moorhead MN, the flood-proof course that is British links style!!
Speakers:  A few yet to be named but confirmed so far are:  Adam Hamm, ND Insurance Commissioner!  Van Mueller, the most recognized living insurance agent in the country!!  Jim Johnson, Hallett Financial and always a treat to hear!  These speakers are worth the trip and price of admission, there will be a significant return on your time and investment!!
Fun and more fun:  A YAT open house, a real social and drawings!!  IFAPAC Fun Night, a banquet and silent auction!! 
Sponsors galore!!  Mystery entertainment!!  Food and more food!!
This one is really going to be a dazzler so put it on your calendars now and plan on this!!  Please talk about this with other agents and your spouse and start making plans to get to Fargo on April 28, 29, and 30th!!    

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NAIFA - Central
by Mike Bergquist, Central President

            It's been some time since our last report and I would like to apologize on behalf of our local for those inconsistencies that have occurred.  I think over the next year you will see some nice changes at Central.  As a group of concerned members, we will increase our membership as well as bring more

value to our monthly meetings.  I'm confident that some of our newer members will be stepping into the roles to carry our local forward, prompting more people to join and seeing the great value we have to offer to our members and their clients.  I'm excited to see some of the accomplishments we have

had at the State and Federal levels of Government.  Wishing you all the best in the upcoming year. 

NAIFA - Fargo Moorhead
By Shawn Gruenberg

Our association held an annual golf tourney at the very end of our fiscal year 2008-09.  The tournament was followed by large amounts of sponsor donated items to be raffled.  This event brings many of our members together for a fun-filled social gathering to raise funds for our local association.

As we enter into a new NAIFA year, our industry and our association have many challenges ahead.  As a team I am looking forward to working closely with our local association and its board to work through each challenge we are facing.  Our association will be holding a new board member picnic gathering and full board meeting on August 20th.  

NAIFA - Minot

By Elaine Schilla, President

       The upcoming year will be a challenging and exciting year for NAIFA Minot.   Working throughout the summer to make plans for the upcoming year is proving to be very profitable as we already have many of the programs lined up for the months ahead as well as our legislative forum well in the works.  Each year we meet with our legislators at least twice as a group and many of our members are on very friendly terms with our local leaders.  With advocacy being our main function, the benefits of a good relationship with the legislators cannot be overstated.

Membership will be high on the list of priorities for our association.  We have put together numerous ideas including making presentations using the membership booklet, calling sessions and a few other ideas.

Sue Sjaastad and I are looking forward to representing Minot at the National Convention in Orlando in September.  With several important issues on the agenda, it will be an interesting convention.

NAIFA - Missouri Slope
by Jonathon Spilde, President

Greetings fellow NAIFA members:

It’s hard to believe we’re already on the “South end of Summer” and the new Association year is upon us!  Your State and Local board and committee leadership just completed an excellent ALC in Devils Lake, where we discussed at length the challenges and opportunities that lay directly ahead of us.  The debate over Healthcare—what it should look like and who should pay for it—promises to be front and center in the coming days, and our NAIFA lobby in Washington DC is right in the thick of it.  The details of the proposals seem to change daily, and they are doing a great job of staying on top of it and keeping the role of the agent a key component of the discussions. At the same time, our industry also figures prominently in discussions about how to pay for whatever new health proposal is designed, as well as the various economic stimulus packages being rolled out.  All of this points out the necessity of speaking with a singular STRONG VOICE in Washington DC.  That requires that we have a strong membership initiative, and it requires us to effectively communicate the AIFA PAC message.  Our focus this year at Missouri Slope is all about both.  We look forward to meeting the challenges head-on and growing a stronger Association in the process!           

 NAIFA - North Valley
by Gregg Webster, President

Members of NAIFA-NV met in early June to plan the upcoming fiscal year.  We will host the annual Insurance Commissioner’s Forum, have 4 Quarterly meetings including CE Speakers, and actively encourage our members to be involved in advocacy.

We plan to spread the responsibilities in line with the adage, “Many hands make for light work.”

Separating the Board Meeting from the Association Meeting proved effective in the past year.

NAIFA - Roughrider
by Richard Tabert, President

The Roughrider group does not meet in the summer. The only event we have had is the summer picnic in July. The ALC was attended by Dee Stroh, Frank Greff, and Rick Tabert. Our first meeting is scheduled tentatively for Sept. 18.
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By Jay Burgad

Hello everyone, yes it's time to get back into the mind set of asking your local members to contribute to IFAPAC.
There is a stronger need than ever before for the many to come together as one with unity in our message and in our delivery there for the need for the PAC. The PAC, which provides money for the lobbyist, (The lobbyist by definition, a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest.) allows you and I ,each of us, a bigger voice if joined by something greater than us which is not one voice but a voice of many. The Pac is a joint effort of over 6,000 dues paying members for which we all benefit from. If you believe we need a paid lobbyist to watch congress, to make sure that changes that come from congress, if need be, are of the best interest of those whom we serve (our clients), then go out and start asking for funds to support our efforts and if you can't ask then make sure that you yourself are a dues paying member.
North Dakota's 2009 financial goal for the PAC $38,000, last year we raised 36,675.98, year to date we have raised $15,495.41. Yes, it is time to get back into the mind set of asking people to get away from inertia of ambivalence and to make a stance by belonging to the PAC and by doing so you are making a statement. Your contributions of any amount is critical and most important will make you a member. We need to get organized in our efforts and I'm confident that we will meet or exceed our goal.
I look forward to coming out to visit each local between now and the end of the year to help you with achieving your local goals. I will be in touch with your local chairs soon.
I enjoy being your State Chair. It is truly a privilege.

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By Terry Weis

The Freedom Builders Fund will become a more important part of what NAIFA-ND does in North Dakota as time goes on.

The health insurance reform that is being debated in Washington has heated up and will not go away anytime soon. We have to be ready here in North Dakota to deal with anything that is going to come along.

As you may know the Freedom Builders Fund is for the benefit of tracking and Lobbying our Legislature in North Dakota. The goal is to someday be able to hire a lobbyist to be our advocate on state issues.

We can be prepared for the (BIG ISSUE) if we can accumulate the funds to meet our needs on an ongoing basis. This needs to continue to be our focus and come up with a funding method that will take us to a level of funding to pay for those needs every session.

This is all of our responsibility, not just a few. We need to find a way to fund the Freedom Builders Fund that we all participate in equally. This is our state and we need to take the bull by the horns and get the funding in place so we can concentrate on the issues not the money.

Look for some ideas in upcoming issues to achieve our objective for the Freedom Builders Fund.
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APIC- Federal
By Dee Stroh, Chair

I attended the ALC Training in Devils Lake on July 30-31, 2009 and it was exceptionally informative and fun. It is really essential for each and every one of us to get involved in the political arena and keep abreast of what is happening.


I did receive an answer from Senator Conrad regarding health care reform. However, I am just one person --we really need every NAIFA member and every licensed agent in the state to get involved  with our Senators and Representatives so they know how we feel and what NAIFA recommends.

APIC - State

By Jim Simons, Chair

I want to thank everyone that attended the ALC in Devils Lake on the 30th and 31st of July.  We had a great discussion with Government Relations, APIC, and IFAPAC.  My records show we are still missing a local APIC chair for Central, North Valley, and Roughriders.  Please forward to me the names as they become available.  I asked at the ALC that each local prepare an annual APIC plan and provided a sample plan in their packet.  I would like these plans forwarded to me by the 14th of September.  We are in the process of automating the State Legislative Contact list.  When it is completed, I will forward a copy to each local chair and ask that you update it within 30 days of receipt.  I hope each local this year will qualify for the Jack E Bobo Award of Excellence.  Let me highlight the Minimum Standard Questions which are highlighted in Orange on the Award Application.  Does your local association have an IFAPAC and APIC Chair?  Did your local association hold a fund raising event to raise money for IFAPAC?  Did your local association send three written communications to its members dedicated to IFAPAC?  Did your local association hold and actively promote either a local legislative day or a local legislative forum, so members could attend and interact with state and/or federal legislators and their staff.  Remember IFAPAC contributions need to be in by 31 Dec 09 to count for the Bobo Award.

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By Gregg Webster, Chair


2008-2009 AHIA Award of Excellence


AHIA-NAIFA Health and Employee Benefits is pleased to announce the winners of the 2008-2009 AHIA Award of Excellence.  Recipients of this award have excelled in upholding the mission and purpose of AHIA through notable membership and programming at the local and state level. 

Please join us in congratulating the following local associations on their achievements.


                        GOLD                                                                           SILVER


                        Lake Region                                                                  Central

                        North Valley                                                                  Minot

                        Roughrider                                                                    Missouri Slope


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By Jeff Case, President

A new fiscal year has begun for NAIFA-ND as well as a new year to promote the LEADERSHIP IN LIFE INSTITUTE (LILI) Program.  I believe this to be one of the greatest if not the greatest program ever initiated by NAIFA.

At the moment I need to have a contact person in each of the seven locals, a local LILI Chair I believe is the correct term.  It is important to discuss among your local boards the names of potential candidates for LILI, members that you could recommend for the class.  I would appreciate it very much if each local would consider a group of potential candidates for this years’ class and submit those names through their local LILI chair.  It will then be possible to initiate marketing efforts to inform prospective candidates.  Any member who wishes to participate or simply wants to receive information about LILI may contact anyone on their local Board or me

The benefits of LILI are too numerous to mention here.  However; there is a great deal of information on our website.  The following link will take you directly to the webpage for more information:

The full tuition this year will be $650.00 per student.  Last November the State Board adopted a motion to match reimbursements to any LILI student, up to $100.00 and upon graduation from the course, granted to the student by his or her local association.  I would strongly recommend that every local consider investing in its future by investing in their candidates and adopt a motion to reimburse the graduating LILI candidate $100.00.  That would reduce the upfront out-of-pocket cost to the graduate to $450.00.  Please remember, each student commits to attending and participating in every class, completing all assigned course work, and two years involvement in NAIFA.  The students bear their own expense for travel to and from classes (one day per month for six months) and any meals to and from classes.  Each student must successfully complete and graduate before being granted the matching amount from NAIFA-ND.

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NAIFA – ND Pres Elect
By Jeff Case, LUTCF

It looks as though we are off to a good start.  Our President conducted a great ALC at Spirit Lake Casino and Resort in Devils Lake on July 30-31.  We do have some interesting issues before us this year, and perhaps a few challenges as well.  However; with the team Keith has put together, I believe we will accomplish our goals.

 I will chair a committee this year to study the feasibility of establishing a NAIFA-ND State Convention Committee, and in conjunction with that, a State Convention Budget.

The major idea is to see if by doing so it may be possible to effectively present better conventions in the coming years that will increase attendance and participation at our state conventions.  The major objectives would be to increase the overall benefits to the membership, since that is what the convention is for, and to generate greater convention revenue; thereby enabling us to bring in top notch presenters.  A portion of the revenue would pass through to the NAIFA-ND operating budget.  A secondary goal would be to ultimately share revenue with the locals as they participate/assist in each state convention.

I personally have no idea if such a concept will work.  There are several issues to consider.  For that reason I am soliciting members from throughout the state who would open mindedly and objectively volunteer to participate on such a committee to conduct a critical review of this concept.  Ideally it would be great to have one member from each of the seven locals to assure statewide participation.  We are often reminded to “think outside the box” in order to arrive at new ideas for meeting our goals and to reach greater accomplishments.  This presents a great opportunity whatever the outcome.  I will be contacting the local presidents to solicit their support.

I anticipate forming the committee by the end of August, and having a report completed by the Spring Board meeting.  The work would be accomplished primarily through written communication and perhaps at least one conference call.  I would ask members of the State Board from the seven locals to consider participating on this committee, or recommending someone from their respective locals.

Thank you in advance for your help.

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Government Relations
By Norbert F. Mayer, FIC, LUTCF, Chair

I hesitate to comment on Legislative issues because they seem to change daily.  The best advice I can provide is for you to make sure you are receiving the NAIFA Gov Alerts and making contacts with our Senators and Representative Pomeroy. 

If you are not receiving the Gov Alerts, send an email to the state office and we will get you signed up.

It does appear that the single payor health care plan is losing its support, in fact the support may never have been there in the first place, but we need to remain vigilant.  The Federal debt continues to grow and at some point Congress needs to get serious about dealing with the ever rising deficit.  Future tax increases are a given and we can rest assured that taxation of insurance products will be scrutinized carefully and often.

Now more than ever we need to increase our membership numbers.  NAIFA membership is job insurance, please go out and get a new member.

 National Government Relations Report
by Elaine Fremling

First,  I wish to address my leadership commitment to you and each of our NAIFA members.  I have worked actively for nearing 32 years on all levels of the NAIFA federation.  In my current role, in each of my committee's contacts, I remind all of us that the sole purpose for the work that we do must be for our members best interests and their careers, and for their clients.
Second,  in these current times which are a new era, I must tell you that the NAIFA staff that supports all of us as members work tirelessly to build relationships at all levels of government, stay abreast of issues and challenges at both the federal and state levels (and now even international level), act or react as needed,  keep us informed and engaged when it is summized we, the grassroots have the greater influence in the direction of regulation and legislation that affects our membership.  As we work numerous times daily, by emails that come and go in the wee hours of the morning, or late at night, and phone calls to our government affairs employees or NAIFA leadership or the CEO late in an evening, Saturday morning or even Saturday and Sunday evenings in additions to very full weeks,  I must say that I firmly believe we can rest assured that the best that can be done will be done on our behalf.
Third,  the issues are intense to say the least.  There are the broad topics of- health care and the workup and bills that are read by our staff; federal regulation of insurance; securities laws and oversight; FINRA regulations; investment advise legislation; pension protection revisions; legislative and regulatory contact management; NAIC oversight, regulations, and suitability; commission disclosure law changes pending (NY state); children's health insurance; life settlements and viaticals; state insurable interest laws; 12 b (1) fees; affiliated associations relationship management, NAIFA associations day on the hill at the state and federal level; and the list goes on.  Our staff and the volunteers in the arena of these topics dare not leave the phone or blackberry for long.  Further, several taskforces are at work in our committee as self management examining the definition of government relations success, and a review of our past, present and future proactive position as a federation.
Fourth, because of the nature of the topics, our members and staff that work on these and many others must work on a bipartisan front keeping focused on the topics at hand.   With the number of visits I personally have made to the hill, I believe it would be virtually impossible to make headway for the benefit of our members if we did not maintain the topic at hand in the forefront at all times.  That then means, all are instructed to leave there personal interests on the side when we describe to the hill what it is that we are there to discuss.  Our livelihood - right to sell insurance and advise our clients had been challenged and will continue to be challenges.  We were removed in the current health care proposals, only to have our right to work with health care insurance placed back into language due to the tireless efforts of the NAIFA staff and it's members at the grassroots level.  Further, new inroads are being made with opportunities to describe face to face to SEC, FINRA, and leaders of Congress and in written form just what is it that an agent/financial advisor does for our clients on a daily basis.  New doors are being opened that we as a federation had not done in the past in my recollection.  We and they that represent us are not gutless, but rather maneuver on a daily basis in the thick and thin of issues and topics that allow all members and even those that are not, to go about their business yet another day. 
Finally, organizations, associations, the members and their affiliates are banding together for the common good.  No more can petty differences continue to fracture an industry that must instead stand bold and strong for the benefit of its members, their clients and now this country.  While the face of all things change and evolve, I believe that this industry, the free enterprise system and democracy must stand.   We, you and I, one by one, and together can and will make a difference by spreading the news of the good works, paying our dues and bringing others together to do the same.
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 Membership Report
by Jason Middaugh, Chair

National finally got the final numbers for 2008-2009.  We started a little slow but we finished strong.

North Dakota finished 7 out of 29 for our size.  Local numbers were –

Central – start 23, end 22, -1

Lake Region – start 9, end 8, -1

Minot – start 62, end 69, +7

Missouri Slope – start 108, end 102, -6

North Valley – start 36, end 37, +1

Roughrider – start 34, end 34, 0

Fargo – start 219, end 213, -6

Overall we had a good year and a great finish to the year.  Again thank all of you for the work that you did. 

We have a new year ahead of us and we have the right people in place to make this an excellent year for membership.  Next year’s final number goal is 512 which is an increase of 16 members.  With the commitments of the state board and the efforts of the local membership chairs this should be easily attainable but it is something we all share equal responsibility to get accomplished.

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Trustee Corner


The 4 P’s of Marketing 

Any Marketing student could repeat the 4 P’s of Marketing if asked, but how can these be applied to NAIFA and our current situation?  As a Marketing Major, I review these P’s regarding NAIFA and my own practice regularly.  The 4 P's of Marketing are Product, Price, Place (distribution) and Promotion – let’s review them one at a time. 


If you have no product to sell or are selling a product that a prospective buyer does not value, you have nothing to market.  In my opinion, NAIFA has spent the last two years, after extensive research on what our members want, rebuilding the “product” of NAIFA.  This includes beefing up our Advocacy efforts AND building the Professional Development Programs.  We needed to expand our "Product" - and in the case of Advocacy rebuild it to what it had been in the past.  The good news – we have a GREAT PRODUCT!!!


The "Place" (delivery) will continue to be the locals/states with local and statewide programming but now it can also be online (for those interested in that delivery mechanism) on the Professional Development piece.  How we sell (deliver) NAIFA membership is also quite broken.  Many of our member volunteers are no longer interested in selling the NAIFA product and they list the following reasons for that - no time, no passion, not willing.  There are some exceptions to this – some that are recruiting.  There are volunteers and NAIFA staff working on finding the solution.   Is it a recruiter, telemarketers, corporate partnerships?  I believe the answer is yes to all of these but there may be others we haven't discovered yet.  I do not think we can continue to rely on volunteer leaders to go out and recruit new members – most do not have the time or passion to do it.  We have been attempting to “do” member recruiting in the same way year after year and it isn’t working anymore.  That is why we are trying new ways to deliver our product – but the perfect combination will not be discovered overnight.


"Promotion" is another area that we can do better (in my opinion).  We need to spread the word.   We could be charging non-members for Professional Development services.  This is definitely something that is being considered along with promoting the NAIFA resources to companies.  So many companies are reducing their training programs and this is a void that I believe NAIFA can fill.  One of the first things that has been delivered is the Member Benefits Web Demo video so that states and locals can do a "live" demo of the new website features.  Much more will be coming here.  We have a top notch staff at NAIFA I have no doubt we can get the word out.  We have built a product that should (if people know about it) be easy to sell.


The only "P" I haven't addressed yet is "Price".  We must price our product accordingly so that we can sustain it.  If we had 140,000 members we wouldn't be having an issue that would require us to increase our price.  We still need to sustain our product because our current members expect it.  I shutter to think if we lost a significant legislative battle because we were unprepared or not at the table - our members assume that we will always win especially when it comes to some of the major issues.  I don’t think you will find any member that would complain about $110 if we lose the battle over taxation of our products. I don’t believe that anyone wanted to be here today asking for more money from our outstanding members.  We all hoped that we could turn the ship around and start to see positive growth.  The one luxury we do not have right now is TIME.  If we had another year or two to season all that we have done in the past few years we may not need the money – but we don’t have that. 

In summary, I don’t believe money is problem.  It is the band aid only but will provide us the time we need to fix the real problem.  I believe the real problem is threefold:

1.      Marketing our awesome product must happen otherwise all the hard work and money spent over the past two years is worth nothing.  We have built this great product but not enough people (members and non-members) know about it.

2.      Selling Membership is a HUGE piece that we must figure out.  We need to think creatively and differently then we ever have before.

3.      Finding leadership is becoming more difficult at ALL levels of the federation.  We have been trying to put those “lucky” volunteers into our box – our idea of what we need them to do for us. We need to allow them to determine what they have time and passion for.  More and more we are finding that people are looking for “bite sized” jobs and not an overwhelming job description.  Either positions are left empty or a name is placed on the line and the job doesn’t get done.  We need to be open to changing our structure to accommodate the new volunteer.  We need to lift some of the burden we have placed on the backs of our states and locals (locals in particular) so that they don’t just throw up their arms and surrender. 

As you can see we have some work to do.  And if you have taken the time to read this entire article, I hope you see that so much has already been done.  Much more communication will be coming on the increase and I would be happy to discuss this further with you as well.  Please feel free to contact me at 715.659.4255 or with any comments or concerns.  Here’s to a great year for NAIFA and for each of you in your practices!  Hope to see you at the NAIFA Convention in Orlando (September 12 – 16)!!!

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Life Insurance Awareness Month click here to see the Governor's Proclamation

NAIFA-North Dakota - 1811 East Thayer Avenue - PO Box 5010 - Bismarck, ND 58502 (701) 258-9525