Fourth Quarter 2014
I cannot tell you how excited I am to be writing this newsletter as the new vice president of Field Operations, but first, I would like to congratulate Greg Donovan on a happy and healthy retirement. I personally want to thank Greg for being an amazing mentor and leader over the years and an even better man. Greg has positioned United Heartland to achieve great things and my first responsibility is to not screw it up while building off of his success and momentum. While Greg has officially transitioned into retirement, I have reminded him that I have his cell phone number and may call upon him from time to time. Thanks again, Greg!
I know most of you, however, I want to give you a little flavor of my experience and transition in what I hope is a non-self-serving way. I have spent my entire working career at United Heartland and am very grateful for the opportunities this company has provided me and my family. I also have an overwhelming amount of pride and ownership when it comes to the reputation and success of this company so to be taking on an expanded role is really cool. All that being said, I am the most jazzed up about reconnecting with past agent relationships, preserving the awesome relationships I have today and meeting new faces along the way.
So, where have I been the past six years? I have been busy leading the charge for United Heartland’s expansion efforts in the Kansas City region. Flat out some of the best employees, best agents and coolest experiences of my life were here, so thank you, Kansas City. So where are we headed? Later this month, my wife and I along with our two awesome kids will be packing up the Bealhen family truckster and headed north to experience the most celebrated month in Wisconsin — February! Actually, we are from Wisconsin and all of our family is here so there are some happy parents and grandparents awaiting our arrival. But enough about me.
Before we get to 2015 plans, I want to celebrate what United Heartland achieved in 2014.
- We exceeded our goal of $48 million in new business for the year.
- 55% of our new business was in the medical, hospital and long-term care facility segment, which is an area we are focused on growing.
- As a result of our move into Florida, we’ve written $3.7 million in premium.
- Indemnity claim frequency was 8.4% lower than 2013.
- We launched a new UnitedHeartland.com, which improves functionality and navigation for our users. (Read more on that here.)
While it’s important to celebrate these successes, I am especially focused on maintaining momentum heading into 2015. We’re off to a strong start in January! New business was very strong totaling $9.8 million between guaranteed cost accounts and the speedy success of our new Risk Management Services unit. Other goals for the new year include:
- Achieve $50 million in new business. Wisconsin will play a significant role toward meeting this goal and we need to get back to playing offense with new business. New Milwaukee Regional Director Tracy Bain discusses more about that here, but again I want to be painfully clear that we are hungry for new business!
- Buck the industry trend of lower submission rates by investing in underwriting creativity and visibility so that we can not only increase submission numbers, but also elevate the flow of qualified submissions.
- Attain an 81% retention rate. Related to this, we are placing increased focus on our $400,000-plus accounts to ensure that we are meeting and exceeding their expectations in all areas of account service as we view the retention and early renewal of these accounts as key to our success this year.
I’ll stress again how eager I am to get to know many of you in this new role as I work to maintain and build our strong foundation of agency partners. I rely on you to let me know how we can help your business grow and prosper this year as we ask the same of you in return. You can contact me atJustin.Bealhen@UnitedHeartland.com or 262-787-7492.
I look forward to talking with you more soon!
Vice President, Field Operations
As a high-touch provider of workers’ compensation, we are constantly creating new tools and services to make it easy to do business with us. That’s why we’re excited about our updated website, UnitedHeartland.com, which features improved functionality and navigation, including:
- Full site search
- Mobile-friendly design that adapts to any mobile device
- Simplified and organized content
- A new “Find an Agent” tool
As workers’ compensation specialists, we are the “go-to” resource to help customers save money and keep their workers safe. We’ve created a “Knowledge” section on the new site to demonstrate this expertise, including case studies, white papers and videos about various topics related to the business. We’ve also added a searchable Customer Toolbox, which offers a wealth of resources, including marketing materials, safety tools and helpful claims, loss control and fraud information for our customers.
While our public website has changed, our password-protected Agent and Policyholder sites remain the same. To access these sites, simply click on “Login” at the top of the homepage.
We hope you enjoy the features and functionality of our new website and welcome your feedback as you explore this great new resource. If you have any issues with the site, please contact our Marketing department.
We are pleased to report that A.M. Best Company has reaffirmed an “A-” (Excellent) rating with a stable outlook for Accident Fund Holdings and its brands, including United Heartland, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, CompWest Insurance and Third Coast Underwriters.
“Accident Fund Holdings continues to be financially strong and focused on providing superior products and services to our agent partners and policyholders in Michigan and throughout the country,” said Liz Haar, president and CEO of Accident Fund Holdings, Inc. “This announcement reflects A.M. Best’s recognition of our effective business strategies and focus on providing superior products and services to the marketplace. Our success has been made possible through the ongoing commitment to excellence of our employees and agent partners.”
In a statement announcing the reaffirmed financial rating, A.M. Best noted, “… the ratings acknowledge the group’s growing use of sophisticated predictive analytic modeling tools and medical cost containment practices and initiatives.” Among other attributes, A.M. Best credited the “A-” (Excellent) rating to Accident Fund’s solid risk-adjusted capitalization and expertise within the workers’ compensation marketplace.
The Milwaukee region has seen some exciting change in the last few months, most notably with Tracy Bain becoming regional director for the area. Tracy has been with United Heartland for the past three years in a variety of underwriting positions, most recently as regional underwriting manager. Before coming to UH, Tracy was a regional vice president for Indiana Insurance and was responsible for managing profit and production in Wisconsin and Michigan. She also brings agency-side experience with her as well as she was vice president of Markets and Operation for Frank F. Haack/Willis.
To help agents get to know Tracy better, we sat down with her for a brief Q&A.
What excites you most about taking on this role in the Milwaukee region?
One of the things that brought me to United Heartland originally was that it’s an innovative company with so much to offer its customers. In this role, I really hope to develop and foster a sales culture to help bring clients to United Heartland who value the high-touch model we espouse. My other top priority is to create excitement and growth for new and renewal business within the region. I want agents in particular to know that we want their submissions and are open for business.
What segments are you finding success with?
While manufacturing remains our largest segment of business, our health care book has grown from $21.9 million to $23.9 million, a 9% increase. Our loss control team, particularly the training they offer for safe patient handling and mobility, combative behavior and dementia, has played a large part in selling these accounts because of the value they bring to these customers and their employees. We’re also experiencing a strong hit-to-quote ratio of 35%
What are your top priorities for the Milwaukee region in 2015?
Profitable growth and retention are my biggest focus. I am also eager to work strategically with our key agency partners to drive “new” new business opportunities, not just renewals, so that we can successfully grow our books of business together. I’m very committed to find ways to help our agent partners deliver and provide services their customers are looking for.
During the recent year, our region has done a great deal of work on segment reviews and working to become experts in our target industries, particularly health care. To that end, we’ve partnered with one of our larger agencies to help their new producers understand everything about the health care segment – industry trends, unique exposures – so that they can better sell the expertise we have to offer. Increasingly, agency sales staff are becoming populated with people that are newer to the industry, so I hope to expand this type of training to other agencies in the future.
Did you know the cost of a slip-and-fall claim related to snow and ice averages $10,500? To help your customers avoid or reduce weather-related injuries this winter, don’t miss our WalkSafe campaign. Available throughout the winter season, you’ll find valuable information and tips on a wide range of safety topics over the course of the winter, including:
- How to prepare for winter weather
- Winter weather advisories and employee communication systems
- Snow and ice removal programs
- Safe vehicle operation and work off-site
- Salting and surface treatments
- The importance of proper footwear
- The value of strong housekeeping practices
- How to avoid falls from elevations
Targeted versions of these select materials are available for your customers working in the health care and education fields as well. We’re excited to be able to provide guidance on this subject since slips, trips and falls are more prevalent during the winter months. Visit UnitedHeartland.com for more information, and if you or your customers haven’t already, please subscribe to our Risk Connection e-blasts, which provide important information related to WalkSafe as well.
Maintaining face-to-face contact with our valued agency partners is important at United Heartland. We achieve this through our Agent Advisory Councils in the spring and through our United Heartland National Council (UHNC), which was held in October. At the UHNC, we bring together principals from a handful of our top-performing agencies and seek their candid feedback on our strategies, industry trends and any other top-of-mind issues. Our council members were very supportive of our planned strategies for 2015.
Issues discussed included:
- Current industry trends and marketplace conditions
- Strategies to help us maintain our strong value proposition including transitioning to more of a sales culture
- Risk Management Services and our efforts to market our loss sensitive product capabilities
- Examination of agency distribution strategies
We appreciate those who attended and offered their insight and look forward to sharing more about these strategies soon. Please make sure to contact your United Heartland representatives with questions you may have or ideas on how we can better support you.
Amendment Suspends Rules Requiring Certain Sleep Periods for Truckers
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins successfully attached a rider to the spending bill signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 16, so truckers will no longer have to get two nights sleep in a row before starting a work week. Suspending year-old federal regulations means truckers will be allowed to work as many as 82 hours over eight days — upending what safety advocates said was a key component of a 15-year effort to reduce deaths caused by drowsy long-haul drivers.
The Collins amendment suspends until Oct. 1, and orders a study of, rules the Transportation Department implemented last year. Under those rules, drivers, after working 70 hours over eight days, were required to rest for 34 hours before beginning another workweek. And that had to include two consecutive nights from 1 to 5 a.m. Even with the Collins suspension, drivers are still limited to 14 hours of work a day, of which only 11 hours can be behind the wheel, and they must take at least one 30-minute rest break. They are still required to be off duty for 34 hours at the end of a workweek, but the 1 to 5 a.m. rest periods over two consecutive days will be lifted.
That means drivers can conceivably work 82 hours a week — something the industry says is highly uncommon.
Future Use, Cost of Opioids and Compounds Limited with Rule Implementation
A draft rule aimed to improve the oversight of workers’ long-term use of opioids was adopted recently by the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). Throughout 2014, a subcommittee of the Workers’ Compensation Health Care Services Advisory Committee (HCSAC), developed the rule which will require increased standards for reimbursement when opioids are prescribed beyond 90 days unless the physician conducts additional review.
Additionally, the rule will limit industry cost and physician use of compound creams/lotions by capping the price of topical compounds at the Average Wholesale Price (AWP) minus 10% and require the original manufacturer’s National Drug Code for each component of the compound as published by Red Book or Medi-Span. Providers would be limited to dispensing a 30-day supply per prescription for compounded drugs. Total reimbursements would be limited to $600.
This rule was drafted by a multi-partisan group from the Health Care Services Committee and was unanimously approved by the Committee consisting of providers, employees, attorney and carriers. The provider requirements in the rule are nationally recognized standards for long-term use of narcotics, for improved pain and functional outcomes and reduced risk of addiction and death.
Farmer Will Continue To Head South Carolina’s Department of Insurance
Raymond Farmer is staying on to lead South Carolina’s Department of Insurance. Farmer communicated he was honored to be asked by Gov. Nikki Haley to stay on in the position he’s held since 2012. Farmer took over nearly a year after the agency’s last director, David Black, resigned abruptly. Haley said it took so long to fill the role because she wanted to hire someone from the private sector, but found it difficult to attract the right candidate who was willing to take a government salary.
Farmer retired as Southeast vice president at the American Insurance Association. Haley said that Farmer was committed to making the insurance agency as consumer-friendly as possible while keeping South Carolina friendly to businesses.