Third Quarter 2019
“Back to school, back to school, to prove to dad I’m not a fool.”
Anyone else hear that Billy Madison classic in the drop-off lane? Or is that just me?
Just like that, another school year has begun, and we enter the last few months of 2019 — coming in hot too — at or above plan on all our top line metrics and with great things happening throughout the organization.
We recently completed the pilot for our newest service offering, TeleCompCare. This is huge news, as we’re officially expanding fully into the Milwaukee and Chicago regions, as well as to our loss sensitive policyholders. For those unfamiliar, TeleCompCare, provides injured workers and their supervisors quick, 24/7 access to triage nurses and the ability to video connect with a physician on the spot! I highly encourage you to check out the TeleCompCare story below for more information and resources on this exciting new service offering.
Also, in this edition of The Pulse, read how we joined forces with rock star agency partner, Shepherd Insurance, to develop a best-in-class confined space entry safety program. Regional Director Dana Piece tells us how he’s settling into his new role and how his team is “taking care of business” in the Charlotte region. AF Group has new Investigative Service Unit materials for us, and we close this issue with a little reading homework –— an agency government affairs update.
Now, back to the highlights — here’s how things are shaping up across UH:
July was a record breaker in terms of retention at 88%, which resulted in $70 million of retained business. Our year to date retention has leveled out on plan at 86%.
Direct Written Premium
Excellent news on this front — we’re currently $13 million ahead of our year-to-date plan!
July was our second highest new business month on record, with your hard work outpacing our plan by $8.3 million. We continue to be ferociously committed to finding monoline workers’ compensation opportunities in a marketplace that lends itself to leveraging intense pricing competition and a shrinking premium base.
High Mod Biz
We continue to set records capturing new, high mod business. Currently, 70% of all new business has a mod over 1.00. Looking for those diamonds in the rough with high mods willing to partner with loss control and claims has really paid off the past three years. Since 2016, we’ve written approximately $135 million in new business that fits this risk profile. And, guess what? It performs extremely well from a combined ratio perspective.
Net rate continues to be a significant focus. Year to date, we are around -6%. That said, we’ve been better than plan for five of the last six months. We’re starting to see predictions of 2020 rate indications from around the country, many are in the -5% to -10% range. This means we likely won’t see any deviation from the current loss cost trends heading into next year.
Earlier this year, we began our two-part agent and policyholder annual survey. Half of our survey respondents received the survey in the spring, with the other half receiving it this fall. Among those surveyed, 91% of our policyholders and 89% of our agent partners surveyed said they are satisfied or very satisfied with UH. Feedback like this helps us gauge what we’re doing great and where we need to improve. I want to personally thank those of you who’ve taken the time to share your experience with us — your input helps us continuously evolve.
As always, thank you for your continued commitment to United Heartland. Because of your dedicated efforts in a difficult market, we anticipate a strong finish to the 2019 calendar year.
And finally, a friendly reminder to review your tiers and profit sharing results to maximize your payouts under our new program. Contact your business development consultant with any questions or to identify strategies to take advantage of our profit sharing program going forward. For more information about the program, click here.
Vice President, Field Operations
The TeleCompCare program provides injured workers and their supervisors quick, 24/7 access to triage nurses who are trained to offer assessments, provide referrals for medical care when appropriate and offer a convenient option to connect with an occupational physician via live video conference on their computer or mobile device. During the pilot, 40 UH customers used the program to submit 808 claims — and of these claims, 90% rated the nurse triage helpline highly.Check out this short, animated video to learn how TeleCompCare works.
- UH has a full-time TeleCompCare product support and training specialist on staff
- 61% of those who’ve used the system report improved time to report.
- Injured workers get the right treatment, as quickly as possible
- TeleCompCare helps workers avoid emergency room visits for minor injuries
- TeleCompCare physicians can electronically prescribe physical therapy and medications (Note: opioids are never prescribed when using a telemedicine provider)
- Immediate and quality care can help prevent a minor injury from becoming a major one
- Milwaukee and Chicago region policyholders (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana)
- All loss sensitive accounts
- Minimum of 10 claims per calendar year
- Dedicated point of contact for department responsible for oversight of workers’ compensation costs for program implementation and training purposes
We will keep you updated on future program expansion news. For more information, please contact your business development consultant.
Earlier this year, UH announced the promotion of Dana Pierce to our Charlotte regional director. Pierce, a 25-year veteran of the insurance industry, began his UH career in Underwriting in 2007 and most recently served as a UH regional manager of Business Development.
“Dana has had an incredibly positive impact on our business in the southeast U.S.,” said Justin Bealhen, vice president of Field Operations at United Heartland. “He has a great underwriting mind and was a key player in our Charlotte expansion efforts, assembling an industry-leading business development team. We are excited to have him in this new position, guiding our business development efforts in the region.”
Around the office, Dana has adopted Elvis Presley’s motto (and logo too!), “taking care of business” or TCB for short. In addition to serving as a fun team “rallying cry,” he explains that the term “taking care of business” sums up the region’s drive to deliver exceptional service to their customers and make a positive impact in the lives of their agency partners and teammates.
Here’s a recap from Dana for how the region is TCB:
Despite the soft market, new business year-to-date has been strong, totaling $11.2 million for the region. We continue to see growth in health care, long term care, social service/non-profit and education. June started out strong, with $1.5 million of our new business growth and July with $2.1 million. Here’s a look at where we’re at year-to-date (through the end of August):
- 84% retention
- 22% total in-force premium growth
- $11.2 million in new business
In May, we had a successful entry into the Maryland market, led by Todd Woodburn, senior business development consultant. To date, eight new agency contracts have been completed in Maryland with four more pending. The addition of Maryland rounds out our Charlotte regional footprint to seven states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Maryland.
Arlene Higgins, regional manager of Business Development, joined our team to lead our underwriting and business development, bringing 25 years of underwriting, marketing, business development and management experience to the table. Arlene’s focus will be managing our existing book, developing retention and new business strategies, as well as working with our business development consultants in South Carolina and Georgia to further refine our agency management strategy.
Janice Sherrell, loss control manager, joined the team in August and will be supporting operations in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. Janice has a diverse background in insurance, working in claims, loss control, management and client services.
Sarah Skae-Clark, senior loss control consultant, serves accounts across the Charlotte region. Sarah has a broad background in multiple industries including construction, education, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, restaurants and health care.
Joseph Charlton, senior claim representative, joined the UH team in June and has more than 30 years of claims handling experience, with a specific focus on Virginia and Maryland.
Shepherd Insurance recently identified UH as the right partner to help one of their customers, Peak Trailer Group, reduce losses associated to confined space entry. The UH Loss Control team in Dallas joined Peak Trailer Group and Peak Trailer Environmental Health & Safety to implement a permit-required confined space entry program that exceeded OSHA standards and serves as a model for the industry.
Together, the teams initiated a hazard assessment of the trailer/tank entry procedures and safe work practices. They identified several opportunities for safety improvement and immediately began work drafting a safety program, pulling together resources from UH and OSHA, as well as current permit regulations. To round things out, Peak also purchased a JJ Keller safety training program.
After finalizing the program, the organization acquired safety equipment to be used during entry and emergency rescue. All affected employees were then trained on the program, equipment, and procedures, specific to their duties. They performed multiple rescue drills, which were recorded to develop a customized training program using their own employees, equipment and safety procedures. The training video also included an introduction by Peak Trailer Group to show support and ownership of the program.
Shepherd Insurance played a vital role in this project, championing United Heartland’s loss control services and immediately going to work with their in-house safety team to find collaborative solutions to reduce losses and drive a safe work environment. Thank you, Shepherd Insurance, for your dedication to partnership.
It’s estimated there was $17.2 million in loss avoidance reported for 2018 due to the hard work of the AF Group Investigative Services Unit (ISU). This means that workers’ compensation claims are being properly investigated and are proven to be the result of a work-related condition. AF Group’s Causation Analysis and Investigation is a process that examines and evaluates an injured employee’s work environment, their specific work practices and then relates those risk factors to the injury reported. The purpose is to validate the facts surrounding an injury to avoid significant losses.
Click here to access the new ISU Causation Analysis Program brochure which outlines how ISU helps protect employees, employers and our customers’ bottom line.
AB-5 has been enacted by the legislature and sent to the governor, we feel confident he will sign. 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:
- The worker is free from control or direction from the hiring individual or company.
- The worker is providing a service that is outside the hiring entity’s normal scope of business.
- The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade.
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 Governor, 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 are threatening to try more cases given they feel confident with the new makeup of the commission, they 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 Worker’s 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.