As a new mom with an 18-month-old and a one-month-old, I'm only beginning to scratch the surface of what it means to feel parental pride. However, I definitely experienced something akin to it as I was reading through the nomination forms for EBA's 2011 Employee Benefit Adviser of the Year.

The more than 150 nominations we received for Adviser of the Year, Voluntary Adviser of the Year, Health Plan Adviser of the Year and Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year blew the selection committee away with countless accounts of agents going above and beyond their job descriptions to come to the aid of anxious employees and over-worked HR departments.

Anyone at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners or in Congress who's hesitating to endorse the Rogers-Barrow legislation in the House that would remove agent commission from medical loss ratio calculations ought to take a look at some of the stories we received.

Tales such as how John Robie, owner of Benefit Plan Alternatives, Inc., in Sylvania, Ohio, saved client Tina Bostic's Section 125 plan from a compliance nightmare. "BPA stepped up and with the help of our ERISA attorney got us out of what might have been a very, very bad situation," says Bostic. "I trust them completely."

Or the gripping account of how Julie Diani says she owes her life to Dan Cattaneo and his company, Beneflex Insurance Services, Inc., in Carpinteria, Calif., for speeding up the approval process of an MRI that revealed a life-threatening staph infection.

Then there are our winners.

You already read about the voluntary expertise of Marsh U.S. Consumer's Rob Shestack in the August issue. Health Plan winner Jim Edwards of Mountain West Benefits has established himself as a one-stop shop for PBM consulting and wellness coaching, and is even forming his own captive insurance company (p. 16). Retirement Plan winner Gallagher Retirement Services' Tony Madera's hands-on approach continues to increase enrollment through targeted employee education (p. 22).

Rising to the top of the heap is Darrell Phillips of DPI Benefits, Employee Benefit Adviser of the Year (p. 40). His unwavering commitment to unparalleled customer service for the health, voluntary and retirement needs of his hospital industry clients led to double-digit growth and a 100% retention rate in 2010.

Meet these deserving advisers as they receive their awards at the 6th Annual Employee Benefit Adviser Summit in Dallas, September 25-27. And keep the extraordinary stories coming!

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