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Sense & Sensibility

Secrets of a Happy Marriage

March 5, 2010
By Kathleen Felong

Kathy Felong
Kathy Felong

My husband and I will be married 27 years this July. It’s a long time, but it didn’t seem that way getting here. When I look at the photo from our first formal dance (we met in college), I can see how much we’ve changed. At the same time, any conversation about money promptly reminds me how much we haven’t.

Beyond that, the bigger question around any anniversary of substance is not how we’ve changed, but this: why does this relationship work?

That’s true of most things we choose to invest time, money or energy in, whether it’s a person, an organization, a hobby—even a magazine.

In 1990, Erie Insurance began publishing a magazine for its Customers. Certainly, it was intended as a means to share valuable information about safety and insurance issues facing consumers. But the bigger objective was to illustrate “the working relationship—the synchronization—of the three most important entities in the insurance equation.” That’s you, ERIE and your ERIE Agent.

I’ve been on board to help make sure that happens for nearly half of the magazine’s 20-year existence. That’s involved working with designers, editors and writers to find fresh and meaningful ways to remind you not to leave the dishwasher running when you leave the house, or stir you to consider how much life insurance coverage is right for you (let alone whether you need term or whole life insurance).

Over the years, you’ve furthered the relationship with your own feedback. You’ve told us what works (shorter articles, stories about real people, tips, tips, tips).

More importantly, you’ve told us why it works:

“If I am aware of potential problems, I can keep them from happening.”

“I don’t generally read magazines from companies, but this was interesting and informative.”

Of course we’ve made some cosmetic changes here and there to make the magazine easier to read—and more relevant. A few years ago, we even changed the magazine’s name to better reflect its intent: to help you make sense of insurance in your life. We also extended its reach beyond these 20 pages to this Web site,, and an e-newsletter, Eriesense & More.

One of my favorite quotes came from a reader who pointed out that as an insurance company that pays claims, ERIE has a vested interest in educating Customers: “It behooves you to be a convenient and reliable resource.”

No argument there. But the behooving goes both ways. As an ERIE Customer, I’ve gratefully benefited from what I’ve learned here about avoiding the deer in my woodsy neighborhood. And when Customers (me, you and the other 1.8 million) minimize their losses, it ultimately behooves the rest of us by keeping premiums lower.

Maybe that’s the point. When a relationship works, it works for all parties. You and your ERIE Agent. You and ERIE. You and the magazine. That creates trust and mutual regard. And as my husband will tell you, trust (and a little anniversary bling now and then) can lead to many happy years together. 

Kathy Felong is supervisor of Publications at Erie Insurance. Her first magazine for ERIE featured an Indiana Jones-type character taming a home improvement project. E-mail her at

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