Agent News

Fourth Quarter 2019

Message from Justin Bealhen

Happy holidays to you! 2019 has been an incredible year and, together, we achieved great things! Despite pressure from the market, we’re on track to achieve and exceed our annual strategic initiatives thanks to an incredible service team and dedicated agent partners like you. Throughout the year, our retention held strong – to date, it’s at 85.5% – and relative to plan, we’ll close the year with our best top-line result in company history.

Top-Line Success and New Business

Last time I reported, we were ahead of our year-to-date goal by $13 million. Heading into December, this figure is now $20 million – outstanding! Most of our top-line success stems from a strong new business result at $8 million ahead of plan in the new business. We feel so confident with our agents that in 2020, we intend to target an even higher new business goal – this market won’t slow down our new business prowess!

High Mod Business
High mod and high loss control opinion of risk accounts continue to dominate our new business headlines. With a higher than average conversion rate, and a combined ratio more than 10 points lower than our book average, we continue to double-down on this segment of business.

Our large account unit is also poised to finish strong; it appears December will be a month to remember. So far, this team has $2.8 million in new business and have a shot at landing an additional $2 million before the close of December, which would put them right at their annual new business goal.

Net Rate
A tale of two stories … In the first quarter, we saw net rate rapidly intensify and approach -10%, which as we all know, is not sustainable. Although the headwinds haven’t calmed much, we are seeing a more manageable eight-month trend of -3% to -5%. Based on the already approved loss cost across most of the country, expect net rate to continue to be a challenge into 2020.

Profit Sharing
It’s time to review your profit sharing results to maximize your payouts. As a reminder, this year is the first year the program will not include ALAE maximizing payouts – meaning more opportunity for you. Contact your business development consultant with any questions or to identify strategies to take advantage of the program going forward. I encourage you to review our profit sharing program overview, which includes calculation grids for three-, two- and one-year agencies so you can see what your potential reward may be for this year and beyond.

From all of us at United Heartland, thank you for all you do. We recognize we would not experience any of this success without your valued partnership. We’re eager to continue to partner with you in finding creative ways to write profitable business across all our segments and look forward to mutual success as 2019 comes to a close and beyond.

Justin Bealhen
Vice President, Field Operations
United Heartland

Industry Awards Demonstrate Our Collective Success

During the past several weeks, AF Group and its brands have received several significant accolades that we’re excited to celebrate with our agent partners – just in time for the holidays!

First, our A.M. Best Rating was recently upgraded from “A-” to “A” (Excellent) with a “stable” outlook. This great news is an indicator of our continued financial strength and strong net income, underwriting income and surplus growth along with record-setting premium retention.

Next, we were also recently recognized as a Ward’s 50 company, an award presented to top insurance industry performers who demonstrate consistent superior performance. For this honor, Ward’s examined nearly 3,000 property/casualty and life/health insurance companies, and their recognition of AF Group was based on our outstanding financial results “in the areas of safety, consistency and performance over a five-year period.”

Finally, AF Group has once again been named to the list of “Best Places to Work in Insurance” by Business Insurance magazine! This is our 10th year on the Best Places list and our return to the #1 position in the large employer category –an honor that acknowledges the strong team and culture across AF Group.

While each of these accomplishments reflect well on our organization and on the teammates that are committed to serving you and your customers, these awards also reflect the success of our continued partnership with you, our valued agent partners.

Our sincerest thank you and best wishes to you this holiday season. We look forward to many more successful years to come.

Nine Years of WalkSafe

We’re celebrating nine years of our WalkSafe Campaign which focuses on slip, trip and fall prevention! Our campaign offers valuable information and tips on winter weather-related safety covering a wide range of topics, including:

  • Preparing for winter weather
  • Winter weather advisories and employee communication systems
  • Snow and ice removal programs
  • Safe vehicle operation and working off-premises
  • Salting and surface treatments
  • The importance of wearing proper footwear
  • The importance of strong housekeeping practices
  • Falls from elevations
  • Slip, trip and fall assessments

Be sure to check out our full collection of winter weather-related tools by visiting

Knowledge is Power

Brush up on your workers’ compensation knowledge in 2020 and register for an AF Group Agency Education course. The Agency Education team offers comprehensive, dynamic learning opportunities specially designed with our agent partners in mind.

LEAD with Comp

LEAD is a 12-month professional development opportunity, kicking off with a three-day training course followed by a year-long mentorship program with AF Group experts from Business Development, Loss Control and Premium Audit. Participants can look forward to agency visits, ride-alongs and micro-learnings throughout the year. More on LEAD with Comp.

Certified Authority on Workers’ Compensation (CAWC)

CAWC is a nationally recognized three-day class with a focus on core concepts like experience modification factors, claims and loss control protocols, return-to-work strategies and more. Earning the CAWC designation provides a competitive advantage for agents and producers by giving them the tools and knowledge necessary to win business, create client loyalty and be viewed as an authority on workers’ compensation. More on CAWC.

Online eLearning

Have just a few minutes to spare? Check out the library of specialized eLearning modules on a variety of insurance-related topics to help enhance your industry knowledge. These interactive courses offer information at your fingertips with the flexibility to view and complete as your schedule allows. Additional resources are available within each module to augment your learning experience. More on eLearning Modules.

Legislative Update


AB-5  has passed and been signed by the governor. This legislation statutorily implements the Dynamex test for determining independent contractor status. The new law will apply to all policies, including those in-force July 1, 2020. Pursuant to Dynamex and AB 5, a worker is presumed to be an employee unless the party asserting that worker is a contractor can prove:

  1. The worker is free from control or direction from the hiring individual or company.
  2. The worker is providing a service that is outside the hiring entity’s normal scope of business.
  3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade.

An important issue associated with AB-5 involves the debate on whether the gig economy receives an exemption from the Dynamex test or a separate status. As a result, Uber, Lyft and Door Dash are using $90 million in funding to begin preparing for the prospects of November 2020 ballot initiative that would exempt gig economy workers from the Dynamex test and create a separate set of rules and benefits. This move will continue the debate through next June, the deadline to remove initiatives from the November ballot.


Indiana General Assembly has taken interest in reexamining their workers’ compensation hospital fee schedule. The topic was assigned to the insurance interim study committee to analyze a potential fee schedule for ambulatory surgical centers, with the intent of looking at all providers. The industry’s goal is to have the committee approve a legislative proposal to introduce in the 2020 legislative session. This initiative will continue receiving political attention throughout the next several months.


Newly elected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order earlier this summer, initiating uncertainty in the appellate process and the Workers’ Compensation Agency. Historically, a minimal amount of AF Group matters have risen to the Appellate Commission level, but that will likely change under this new democratic-appointed three-commissioner structure. Plaintiff’s counsel is threatening to try more cases, given they feel confident that with the new makeup of the commission, it could overturn any adverse decision from the magistrate level. Time will tell.


Individual management and labor proposals outlining their individual workers’ compensation wish lists were shared at the last Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) meeting. The WCAC will begin discussions on these proposals as they build the legislative session’s “agreed bill.” Because things are currently so politically heated between the Republican-led legislature and democratic governor, we don’t anticipate anything of significance to come from the agreed bill process but will maintain a close eye as it progresses.


  1. 1595, the SAFE Banking Act of 2019, was approved with a 321 to 103 vote in the House. This Legislation would ease things a bit for insurers and others who work with the cannabis industry. The legislation now moves on to the U.S. Senate, where it has bi-partisan support. Among those expressing support was the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents.

Bill Summary – will allow cannabis businesses to work with state banks. The bill was later amended to include insurance providers. This legislation would remove some of the liability assumed by the insurance industry under federal law. It would remove the direct conflict between state and federal law. The bill has been passed through the judicial committee on a bi-partisan basis and stands ready for a floor vote. When and if it clears the House, the battle will proceed in the Senate..