WDAIP growth rooted in client service, industry and technology advances
WDA Insurance Programs, the brainchild of several WDA dentists, began in 1982 as a means of offering members malpractice, life, health and disability insurance coverage.
Those first years were difficult. WDAIP had little operating capital, but was expected to turn a profit quickly. Current WDAIP President Tom Witkowski, who joined the organization in 1982, worked at the grassroots level encouraging WDA membership and attending component meetings around the state. “As a start-up operation, we had to develop relationships and prove ourselves quickly,” he says. “Our very survival depended upon the relationships we developed with our members from the start.”
WDAIP first offered the Professional Protector Plan – a professional liability plan. The first group health insurance open enrollment followed. After three months, WDAIP had over 2,000 members enrolled. Today, the agency boasts a strong 1,500 dentists in the PPP and 2,400 dentists, families and employees in the WPS Group Health Plan.
Having served a variety of roles within WDAIP, Mr. Witkowski says it was a strong fit when he took over from Founding-President Jack Mesropian in 1993. That same year, WDAIP formed its Professional Insurance Programs subsidiary to offer various insurance programs to other associations like the Greater Milwaukee Realtors Association and State Bar of Wisconsin.
In 1993, WDAIP expanded further by offering automobile and home insurance through the West Bend Mutual Association Plus Home & Highway Program, long-term care insurance and workers compensation. It also developed partnerships to offer advanced life planning and disability insurance.
The WDAIP Board meets five to six times a year and provides overall guidance and input. “We have always had a strong, functional board which focuses on providing value to members,” notes Dr. Dean Copoulos, chairman.
Growth in technology has helped WDAIP provide high-level service over the years. According to Dr. Philip Bouressa, an early member of the Board who served six years including three as president, WDAIP’s first computer took up an entire room. Today’s computer software enables staff to obtain real-time information about their clients, no matter where the information is stored.
Mr. Witkowski is proud of the trust and respect earned through long-term relationships. “We take a great deal of pride in our service,” he points out, “and stress the importance of courtesy and understanding in dealing with clientele. Having the credibility of the WDA behind us and gradually building a loyal customer base has been our career accomplishment of a lifetime.”
Dr. Bouressa is extremely impressed with the growth of WDAIP. “They’re maintaining a fantastic company that was started with just ‘nickels and dimes’,” he notes.
WDAIP has grown to 13 full-time and four part-time employees. Many of the staff also serve on advisory boards, giving WDAIP a voice within the insurance industry.
Recognized as a Best Practices Agency, one that abides by the best practices of the best insurance agencies in the country, WDAIP has a respectful office environment. Mr. Witkowski believes the positive, supportive work culture, with its emphasis on balance, is reflected in continuity of staff; many have been with WDAIP for numerous years.
Although no one can predict the future of insurance, WDAIP is certain they can continue to provide a valuable service.
“I know we’ll be ahead of the curve,” Dr. Copoulos says. “If there are changes, we are always ready for them.”
Mr. Witkowski agrees. “We have built a solid foundation of trust within the dental community. With that foundation in place, we should be a member of the WDA family for a long time.”