March 28, 2024

Western National Announces Officer Promotions of Buness, Dockendorf, Ehrich, Kristjanson, and Nielsen

(Minneapolis, Minn.) Western National Insurance Group today announced that it has promoted five employees – David Buness, Rich Dockendorf, Dan Ehrich, Scott Kristjanson, and Eric Nielsen – to new roles on its officer team, effective March 4, 2024.

David Buness, now Vice President – Claims, joined Umialik in 2004 and has held a variety of roles during his time with the company, including managing the property, casualty, and auto claims adjusters in the northwestern region. He was promoted to Director of Property Claims for the west and northwest regions in 2020, and he was promoted to Assistant Vice President, Claims in 2021. He has over 30 years of experience working with claims. David earned his bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University.

Rich Dockendorf, now Vice President – Underwriting, joined Western National in 2015 as a Senior Underwriting Manager. In 2019, he was promoted to Director – Underwriting, and in 2022, he was promoted to Assistant Vice President – Underwriting. During Rich’s time with Western National, he has led our program team and coordinated our program products. He has over 30 years of experience in the industry. Rich earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Saint John’s University.

Dan Ehrich, now Vice President – Corporate Controller, joined Western National in 2014 as an Accounting Manager and has progressed through the Finance function, where he currently serves as a key member of the financial leadership team that is responsible for the financial oversight of our Group. He was promoted to Director in 2016 and Assistant Vice President in 2023. Dan earned his bachelor’s degree from Mankato State University and earned his CPA license in 2010.

Scott Kristjanson, now Vice President – Underwriting, joined Western National in 1987 where he started in personal lines before moving to commercial lines in the Workers’ Compensation Department. He has since held a variety of positions in commercial lines, including Commercial Lines Manager and Director – Underwriting. In 2022, Scott was promoted to Assistant Vice President – Underwriting. He is a go-to resource for many within the department and across Western National for information on underwriting processes, rules, regulations, systems, and forms.

Eric Nielsen, now Vice President of Engineering, joined Western National in 2023 with background in data and software engineering, as he previously held senior-level roles at both Thomson Reuters and Be the Match. In his new role, he will continue to oversee our Architecture team, as well as bring his knowledge and expertise to our application development, product quality, and software engineering teams while further expanding our product technology.

“David, Rich, Dan, Scott, and Eric have proven themselves to be outstanding leaders in the service of our customers, business partners, and internal stakeholders,” said Rick Long, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are pleased to recognize their contributions with these promotions. I look forward to continuing to utilize their talents, thoughtful approaches to leadership, and expertise to further grow our business and enhance our customer experience, both internally and externally.”

Western National Insurance, headquartered in Edina, Minn., is a super-regional group of property-and-casualty insurance companies. The Group writes business through five active insurance companies—Western National Mutual Insurance Company, Western National Assurance Company, Pioneer Specialty Insurance Company, Umialik Insurance Company, and American Freedom Insurance Company — and is affiliated with Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance Company. Together, the affiliated Group writes over $1 billion in personal and commercial direct premium in 20 states across the Northern, Midwestern, and Western U.S. as well as in Alaska; and surety bonds in 43 states. All of the companies’ products are sold exclusively through professional Independent Insurance Agents.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Norman, CPCU, M.A., AIT
Senior Vice President – Communications & Customer Experience
(952) 921-5680 or (800) 862-6070 Ext. 7680

western national and power of nice hybrid logo

At Western National Insurance, nice is what’s guided us for over 100 years.

And we’re just getting started.

professional insurance agent badge
trusted choice badge
top work place badge
wards 50 badge
A.M. Best 'A+' badge