First Quarter 2014
It’s hard to believe spring has arrived given this year’s rough winter, but we’ll actually be a quarter of the way through 2014 in just a few days. Before I explain some of United Heartland’s exciting plans for the rest of this year, I want to look back at the successes we achieved in 2013.
The marketplace remained challenging as increased medical costs continued to impact our results and competition caused ongoing disruption. Despite these challenges, direct written premium rose to $243 million, up 1.5% over prior year. Our calendar year combined ratio was 96.9%, a 3.9-point improvement over 2012 and a full point better than plan. Additionally, indemnity claim frequency in 2013 was 12.9% lower than the previous year.
Our strong performance last year has provided us momentum as we pursue our strategies for 2014. So far, we’re pleased by what we’ve accomplished in these first three months. The biggest news is that we began writing accounts in Florida as of Jan. 1 with a specific focus on health care, social services and long-term care segments. We’re committed to investing in the region and have hired a claim representative to help manage accounts on the ground there. So far, we’ve written just over $1 million in business and anticipate more in the coming months.
Because of our expertise in this area, we view health care as having great potential for United Heartland – premium in this segment grew by 17% last year – so we see new business opportunities not only in the Sunshine State but throughout our core states. We also remain committed to growing our other key segments – manufacturing, nonprofits and social services, retail and wholesale, schools and nursing homes.
As we pursue these new opportunities, one thing that won’t change is our commitment to consistent pricing and disciplined underwriting. While many competitors continue with their erratic and reactive pricing, we know that our stable pricing strategy is proven and sensible. We also remain committed to providing our customers with high-touch service at every contact. This includes making ongoing enhancements to UH RiskView, our easy-to-use risk management system, which gives customers the tools they need to help manage risk.
We are proud of our 2013 successes and are confident we’ll build on them in the coming months. Thank you for being an instrumental part of this success. We look forward to your continued partnership in 2014.
My very best,
Vice President, Field Operations
Transitioning Iowa to Chicago Region: To utilize resources more efficiently and ultimately serve our customers better, United Heartland shifted a large portion of our Iowa business to the Chicago region last year. We are pleased with the transition thus far and anticipate continued growth and success in the region. In 2014, writing new business will be a strong focus, particularly as we seek more opportunities for loss-sensitive accounts and accounts where retrospective rating or large deductible plans would be appropriate.
Indiana Continues to Thrive: United Heartland’s growth in Indiana remains an ongoing success story. Double-digit growth has been seen in each of the last three years, and since 2010, we’ve experienced 189% growth. Much of that success has been achieved by our ability to diversify both the accounts we are writing and the agencies we are writing it with. While Underwriting Consultant Mike Kelly is the primary Indiana underwriter, Underwriter Spring Stuchl, Senior Underwriter Kim Johnson and Underwriting Consultant Declan Fay all wrote new business in Indiana in 2013. We saw new business premium in Indiana grow substantially in 2013 in our manufacturing and schools segments and we also added several social service, nursing home and health care accounts. More notable, however, was the fact that we wrote these new accounts with 12 different agencies. It illustrates how our valued partners are finding success selling the “UH Difference” to their customers, bringing results of which we can all be proud.
Illinois Remains Profitable: After several years of subpar results, United Heartland posted its third consecutive profitable year in Illinois. Thanks goes out to our agency partners for their support while we took the necessary steps to allow United Heartland to return to profitability in its third largest state.
Sharing Our Success: Because of the results noted above, many of our agencies have seen their loss ratios improve, helping them qualify for profit sharing. In the Chicago region alone, we paid out more than $790,000 in profit sharing for 2013. Congratulations to our top performers throughout the region and thank you for your ongoing partnership.
Truly Making a Difference: While attending a social service seminar held by one of our agency partners, Underwriting Consultant Declan Fay reported he was pleasantly surprised when one of the panel members (the CEO for one of our social service accounts) specifically credited United Heartland and Loss Control Consultant Jeff Marks for helping set up an accident review board. This was instrumental in improving the agency’s results during the last two years. The CEO said he participated in all of the review boards and stressed how much he appreciated our high level of involvement in their account. The agency producer on the account who was also in attendance presented more results, noting the account’s drop in claim activity and indemnity and credited United Heartland’s efforts in helping to achieve this turnaround. This example reaffirms our belief that United Heartland’s high-touch approach to workers’ compensation, supported by our strong agency partnerships, brings results that truly benefit our customers.
Our high-touch customer service model is a true differentiator within the marketplace. By developing strong relationships with customers, we create partnerships that last and flourish. When customers take the time to share how much they appreciate this approach, it reaffirms our mission.
One such affirmation came from LaVonne Harrom, administrator at Wisner Care Center in Wisner, Neb., in reference to Loss Control Consultant Patrick McKeon. She wrote to Regional Loss Control Manager Amy Schmidt: “I wanted to pass on a compliment to you for assigning Patrick McKeon to our account. Patrick truly cares about his clients and goes above and beyond to assist us. He is very knowledgeable, dependable, confident and caring.
“Patrick presented a training program to my staff on Sept. 25, 2013. The staff warmed to him and were really attentive to the loss prevention information that he was presenting. They felt he was entertaining. Patrick put the staff at ease and made learning fun. There was great interaction between the speaker and the audience. Patrick ended the presentation with some inspirational thoughts. His timing was fantastic. We had a couple of losses during the previous week and the staff needed a lift in spirit.
“After the presentation, a couple of our residents asked Patrick to stay and play Bingo. I know he had better things to do, but he took a few minutes to make them feel very important. He sat at a table with a few ladies and they were so honored. One of the ladies still talks about the ‘handsome’ man that played Bingo with her and she wants to know when he is coming back.
“Last night, we had a dinner to raise funds for our new chapel and hospice room. … We approached many of our vendors for support. When I approached Patrick, not only did he buy a ticket to the dinner, but he actually attended. Since the staff knew him from the in-service training, they were impressed that he would attend the dinner on a Sunday night. I don’t know exactly where Patrick resides, but I know he had to drive at least an hour each way to attend. He made United Heartland look excellent. I introduced Patrick to our mayor, several other city council members, and business owners. He made a positive impression on all of them.
“Thanks again for assigning Patrick handle our policy. He does an outstanding job representing your company.”
United Heartland President Steve Cooper said, “I don’t think I’ve ever received such an inspiring compliment in my 25 years of experience in the industry. It illustrates how valuable our high-touch customer service model is to our customers and reaffirms my belief that we have the best team in place to deliver on it.”
2013 was a year of successes for United Heartland and the Accident Fund Holdings Enterprise. In fact, it was one of the most successful years in Accident Fund Holdings’ history. To see how the Enterprise and each of its brands performed, we encourage you to review the 2013 Accident Fund Holdings Annual Report now available online.
You’ll find 2013 financial performance information for each brand, notable highlights from the past year and details on the many ways the Enterprise gave back to the communities where our many employees work and live. For more details about the holding company, visit AccidentFundHoldings.com.
As you know, the strength of our agency partnerships is important to United Heartland. We appreciate your feedback and constructive criticism to ensure we are meeting your needs.
To measure this, Accident Fund Holdings will be sending an agency survey to all agents Enterprise-wide in April and we encourage you to participate. As an added incentive, those who complete the survey will have the opportunity to enter a drawing for great prizes, such as an Apple MacBook, Apple iPads* and $50 Visa gift cards.
* MacBook and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. Apple is not a participant or sponsor of this promotion.
Discussions Grow on Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA)
TRIPRA discussions in Washington are increasing. The United States Senate Banking Committee has indicated they are in the process of crafting a draft TRIPRA proposal, anticipated this spring. The House Financial Services Committee has indicated they will address reauthorization in late April. Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America communicated that TRIPRA is a priority issue that they intend to lobby in support of at the annual conference in Washington in early April. Accident Fund Holdings remains optimistic TRIPRA will be renewed, although the program could be amended from its current form.
DWC Schedules Hearing on Hospital Fee Schedule
The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) will hold a rules-development hearing March 4 to accept comments on plans to overhaul the state’s hospital fee schedule. The latest proposal from the DWC uses 18 months of billing data averaged across the state. The division would then apply modifiers for each of Florida’s 67 counties using the CMS wage index for Core-Based Statistical Areas for urban and rural areas. The changes would be used to update the 2006 edition of the “Florida Workers’ Compensation Reimbursement Manual” and also would increase the current inpatient surgical and non-surgical per diem amounts by 16.5% and raise the current stop-loss threshold for inpatient services by 16.5%.
Work Comp Reform Bill Stalls in Committee
An omnibus workers’ compensation reform bill (SB 2624) that would limit claims by workers hurt while commuting to or from work has stalled in the Senate Labor Committee. The bill is supported by Republicans, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and other business groups. However, Republican sponsors have not lined up any Democratic support for the bill. Without Democratic support, it will be difficult for the bill to gain any momentum in the Legislature.
Legislature Approves Work Comp Bill
The Indiana Legislature has approved a workers’ compensation bill related to repackaged drugs and billing review services standards. The legislation must now be sent to the governor for consideration. Once the bill is sent to the governor, he must sign or veto the legislation within seven days of transmittal or it becomes law without signature. The 2014 legislative session has adjourned.
EBM Treatment Guidelines Proposed by Deputy Director
Michigan Deputy Director of Workers’ Compensation Kevin Elsenheimer recently released an evidence-based medicine (EBM) guideline proposal that utilized ODG as the single source. The deputy director is now reviewing all stakeholder feedback and analysis. EBM guidelines must not create overbearing administrative burdens on carriers, providers, injured workers or employers. The deputy director intends to release a new proposal in the near future and pursue enactment this year. Accident Fund Holdings will engage in the process when appropriate.
Agreed Bill Fails; Debate Will Likely Continue in Fall
The Wisconsin Medical Society political lobby has unfortunately defeated the enactment of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council’s Agreed Bill. The bill contained a number of changes to reduce medical costs including implementation of a medical fee schedule and limiting reimbursement of physician-dispensed drugs to the average wholesale price set by the drug’s original manufacturer. Hospitals, physicians and chiropractors political clout was evident throughout the process. Additionally, legislators are usually hesitant to vote on decisive initiatives in an election year.
Accident Fund Holdings’ Government Affairs is working with our Wisconsin Insurance Alliance (WIA) partners to remain engaged for the remainder of the legislative session. We anticipate the cost containment debate to continue, most likely in early fall. Moving forward, the debate will continue and it is encouraging the bill received a generally favorable reception from state lawmakers this year.
Information in this report was sourced from – Florida Insurance Council – NAMIC – WorkCompCentral – NCCI