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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2014: Cavignac & Associates

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At Cavignac & Associates, camaraderie comes with beer, wine and game-day hot dogs.

“(We) realize that the people who work here are going to spend a lot of time together, so we try to create a lot of opportunities to do things together to make it fun,” said Jeffrey Cavignac, managing principal of the small risk management and commercial insurance brokerage headquartered in San Diego.

The list is long — picnics, baby showers, holiday gatherings, group tickets to Padres baseball games, company softball games, sushi-making classes, kayaking, hosted happy hours, beer and wine tastings, weekly catered lunches and more — and helped Cavignac & Associates snag a top slot on the list of Business Insurance's 2014 Best Places to Work in Insurance.

Bethany Mongold, director of first impressions and receptionist, said it's the social environment that keeps away the Monday-morning gloom. “The thing I like best is the atmosphere we have here,” she said. “Everybody gets along. We have our summer picnic that we choose to go to on a Saturday, and hang out with other employees we see all week long. That says a lot about the agency.”

Cavignac & Associates has 45 employees and specializes in property/casualty, professional liability, workers compensation, employee benefits and surety — a lot of work for a company that boasts a work-hard-play-hard culture.

In addition to regular outings and events, the firm holds fast to the belief that if the company does well, everybody does well; a major motivator is a robust bonus lineup.

“For bonuses we use metrics that consider new business, retention and productivity,” said Mr. Cavignac.

In addition to the semiannual bonuses, Cavignac provides monthly $15 bonus meal allowances and quarterly $50 bonus meal allowances when on budget, as well as years-of-service bonuses between $500 and $2,500.

Celia Mondfrans, senior account manager, said performance and flexibility are key to a balance that makes Cavignac a place people never want to leave.

“They understand, for example, that if you are a working mother, they'll work with you,” Ms. Mondfrans said.

“When my daughter was in (after-school activities) that entailed a week where she had two practices a day — meaning she had to be driven twice a day for a week in San Diego traffic — I was given the flexibility to work online remotely and still get my work done,” she said.

Professional development is another perk, Ms. Mondfrans said. Cavignac pays 100% of education classes, seminars and materials, and offers five paid days off for education and cash bonuses of between $250 and $2,500 for achieving designations or certifications.

“We try to provide each employee a clear path on what's possible and how to get there,” Mr. Cavignac said. “We grow internally, we grow by acquiring young talent that is committed, and we really want to have brokers who understand insurance.”