Introducing Donegal's Inaugural Claims Trainee Class!

By Jeff Kramer, Claim Representative, Casualty Claims

November 17, 2022

June 6th, 2022 marked the start of Donegal’s first-ever Claims Trainee Program, where eight newly-hired Claim Trainees entered the program with little to no insurance knowledge or experience.

The trainees were introduced to all aspects of the insurance industry as they learned from various department managers and executives, attended lectures, completed insurance coursework through The Institutes, and shadowed Claim Representatives. At the end of the 8-week program, a celebration was held and the group of trainees “graduated” from the course to transition into Claim Representative roles. We are confident that the group will excel in their new roles and we are excited to continue to watch their careers develop as successful insurance professionals at Donegal®.

Congratulations to our Claims Trainee Graduates: Micah Munn, Christian Buser, Sara Musser, Davon Taylor, Devin LeFever, Gabe Fuhrman, Payton Kough and Hannah Myers! 

Now, let’s learn more about the program!

A 13-year Donegal® veteran, Claims Training Manager Michele Christensen has held various roles across multiple claims disciplines, before being charged with developing and managing Donegal’s new Claims Trainee Program.

She shares more in our conversation below.  


What did you consider when you set out to develop this Trainee Program? Did you have any examples or prior training to look back to that you used as inspiration?

I’ve always had a passion for teaching and have placed a high value on training. Prior to the insurance industry, I gained extensive customer service experience in the hospitality industry. I began my career at Donegal in our Claims Call Center with no insurance knowledge and quickly learned that customer service and empathy are a big part of a claim representative’s job.

During the planning period for the training class, meetings were held with the claims management team, who recognized the importance of providing training in a variety of topics to produce well-rounded claim representatives. In addition to insurance-specific and claim-specific training, the training program covered subjects like: customer service, time management, empathy, active listening and business writing, to name a few.

We also recognize the importance of continued education. Trainees enrolled in The Institutes, and most trainees earned their AINS designations before graduating from the training class.

What did you look for in potential candidates during the initial search?

We have found that successful claim representatives come from all different industries and schooling. We were confident that the insurance material could be taught, and that individuals possessing a positive attitude, open mind, and a focus on customer service would be successful in the program. During the interview process, we focused on candidates who were looking for longevity at Donegal and who were willing to put the work in to be successful.

What team building exercises or other activities did you use to develop engagement amongst the trainees?

It was important to me that the training class incorporate hands-on learning and an element of fun when possible. We utilized team-building exercises to get to know one another, a scavenger hunt to learn our [Marietta, PA Home Office] building, and team activities to develop active listening and time management skills.

Given the success of this first “class,” how do you see this program developing in the future?

We are extremely pleased with the success of the first Claims Trainee Class, as well as the individuals who “graduated” from the program who are now handling their own claims. I’m happy to announce that we are in the process of hiring trainees for our next class which is scheduled to kick-off in January 2023!




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