Agent News

Second Quarter 2014

Welcome from Greg Donovan

As I’ve learned more about the World Cup, the global soccer event that is holding the world’s attention through mid-July, I’ve noticed interesting comparisons that can be made between the sport and United Heartland.

  • A passionate fan base. If you’ve caught any of the World Cup games thus far, it’s hard to miss the legions of fans chanting for their teams and waving their nation’s flags all because of their love of the game. While we didn’t see any flag waving at council meetings, the feedback we received was equally fervent: you love what we do. You love our service model, our consistency on pricing, our ability to be a market for accounts that may have had issues in the past, our approach to client relations and our risk management information system, RiskView. Because of this, we’re encouraging our customer fans to share their stories about their excellent United Heartland experiences. (Read more here.)
  • Increased visibility and recognition. It may be a worldwide phenomenon, but soccer has a limited presence in the United States. But with continued exposure to the game, the sport has grown in recognition and popularity with Americans. Similarly, United Heartland has grown our presence in the regions we operate because our specialized, collaborative approach to workers’ compensation helps us stand out quickly in the marketplace. Consider Florida. Since pursuing expansion there at the start of 2014, we’ve written $3.5 million in business and anticipate more by year’s end. We also understand how important it is to be a visible presence for you and your customers and to communicate our products and messages with enthusiasm and excitement. We are committed to developing these valuable relationships further so that we can find mutual growth and success together.
  • Focus on innovation. Soccer is a fairly simple sport, but that doesn’t mean the World Cup isn’t trying to find ways to improve upon the game – from goal-line technology to a more aerodynamic ball. United Heartland has a similar approach regarding loss control. Our expert loss control team continues to research and refine ways of improving the safety of our customers’ workplaces. Some of these innovations include the implementation of a new dementia training program that helps our health care and long-term customers better understand the challenges that those with diminished mental capacity face. Others include our recent loss control campaigns about severe weather risks and health care and long-term care related issues. We also have worked with our customers’ safety trainers to train them on the newest safety methodologies and strategies, which they can then share with their teams.

However, perhaps the biggest similarity was the relation of teamwork to success. On the soccer field, a group of 11 players work together as one unit – passing the ball up and down the field amongst each other – until an opportunity to score occurs. Likewise at United Heartland, our team works together with our agents and customers utilizing our individual expertise in areas of underwriting, claims, loss control and customer service until we achieve our goal – improving and strengthening our customers’ safety experience.

United Heartland’s 2014 game plan has already led to success with new business and growth. We thank you for your help in making that happen and look forward to your support and partnership to help it continue.

Sincerely,

signature

Greg Donovan
Vice President, Field Operations
United Heartland

New Training Helps Explain Challenges Facing Those with Dementia

cooper-dementiaCognitive impairments associated with dementia, coupled with physical impairments (such as neuropathy, arthritis, vision impairments and hearing loss, etc.,) can make it challenging for individuals trying to do common tasks. To help our health care customers who care for these individuals better understand dementia and its impact, United Heartland is utilizing the Virtual Dementia Tour®, created by Second Wind Dreams® and P.K. Beville, M.S.

The program challenges participants to perform simple activities — folding towels, writing a note, putting a belt through the belt loops of pants — while experiencing impairments to their dexterity, vision and hearing. Through it, they learn the importance of patience and empathy when caring for those with cognitive challenges and how to adjust their care to better serve and meet their needs.

“This is a relatively new service deliverable we are offering our policyholders in the health care arena, and we’ve received tremendous feedback from those who have gone through this experience,” said Loss Control Director Rick Bartelme. “It provides a brief window into the world of someone who has dementia and allows the participant to understand first-hand some of those challenges.”

We look forward to sharing this innovative program with more of our health care customers as we help their employees better serve their patients. If you feel one of your policyholders may benefit from this type of training, please contact your loss control consultant.

Regional Focus: Charlotte Builds on Its Past Success

charlotte-ncExpansion Efforts Producing Results: For the Charlotte region, 2014 has started off strong with our expansion into northern Florida. As of May 31, the region has written 27 new accounts for $6.85 million in new business premium helping push us to $37 million in in-force business. Also, at May’s end, the region is reporting:

  • Retention rate of 81.4%.
  • Accident year loss ratio of 32.3%.
  • Policy year loss ratio of 22.9%.
  • Calendar year adjusted loss ratio of 45.7%.
  • A nearly 51% hit-to-quote ratio, which means that we’re finding great success in quoting and writing business in the region.

“The type of success we’re seeing so far this year is really a culmination of seven years of dedicated efforts from our team here in Charlotte. We feel like we’re on the verge of breaking through and being recognized as one of the higher profile carriers in the area,” said Southeast Regional Director Mike McKeon. He says the response to our move into Florida has been equally positive: “The agents and customers we have met in this region have been very impressed with our loss control and claims models and tell us there is a sincere need for a company like United Heartland.”

“Healthy” Segments: The long-term care (26.1% of business) and health care segments (22.3%) remain a strength for us, representing nearly half of our business in the region. This is in part because of our focus on those segments as part of our move into Florida. Manufacturing also has become an important piece of the puzzle in the region, representing 18.5% of business. It’s a segment that has grown significantly for us, doubling the premium it had just a few years ago, helped in large part by the strong partnerships that we’ve developed with agents in the region.

Claiming Success: The longer claims linger, the more costly they often become. As a result, the Charlotte claims team has made settlement of aged files (claims from before 2012) a priority this year and has been able to reduce the amount to just 10% of active claims. In addition to an already strong team, we’ve brought on new claims representatives to the region — Tracy Daniels-Armstrong, Tracy Pease, Rhonda Thornton — who’ve been able to step right in and develop great relationships with our customers. On a recent visit, a long-term care customer commented they were “100% satisfied with the service we are receiving.” Positive outcomes such as this help us as we continue building our reputation and growing our presence.

Continued Excellence: With a now fully staffed team, Regional Loss Control Manager Chad Chellevold reports that his consultants have been busy performing loss control evaluations on many new business prospects and are eager to do what they can to continue making the expansion into Florida successful for our agents and our customers. He also notes that one of their North Carolina-based non-profit accounts, Holy Angels, remains an ongoing example of how United Heartland can help support a strong safety culture. In 2013, Holy Angels received OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) Award as being a model for worksite safety. And despite performing dozens of transfers of developmentally disabled and physically fragile children and adults on a daily basis, they are now going on multiple years without sustaining a loss-time injury — an impressive effort!

United Heartland Names New Claims Director

Lynde_JeffUnited Heartland has announced the appointment of Jeff Lynde as director of Field Claims. Lynde is responsible for the ongoing development of the company’s claims strategy and direction with direct involvement in claims quality control, divisional consultation and training.

“I am excited to have Jeff join our exceptional Claims team,” said Rick Hobbs, vice president of Claims and Managed Care for United Heartland. “He is a strong leader with a noted reputation for his dedication to customer service. We are pleased to welcome him to United Heartland.”

Lynde previously served as Claims Manager for West Bend Mutual Insurance. His career includes 19 years in claims handling and leadership positions with national insurance companies, including Wausau Insurance and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group.

Lynde graduated from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, with concentration in law and courts. Additionally, he has earned the Associate in Claims (AIC) insurance industry designation.

Tell Us Your United Heartland Story

United Heartland is driven to deliver outstanding experiences for our customers. To help us tell our story of delivering superior customer service, we are reaching out to current policyholders and agents and asking them to tell us their positive experiences of working with us.

It could be how an underwriter helped to create a program perfectly suited to your customer’s needs. Or how our loss control consultants assisted in transforming the safety culture at your workplace. Or how a claims adjuster delivered a return-to-work solution that made a difference for an injured worker. We hope to share some of these stories in our marketing materials and on our website since these first-person experiences can be powerful and compelling in persuading others to consider United Heartland.

Testimonials can be submitted one of two ways.

  1. Via our Testimonials page at UnitedHeartland.com where visitors can fill out a brief form that includes their United Heartland story.
  2. Send an email to UnitedHeartlandTestimonials@UnitedHeartland.com that includes the customer’s name, title, company name, contact email and contact phone number along with a brief description of the positive experience.

All submissions will be responded to within 10 business days to confirm receipt and no testimonials will be used without first getting written consent. We look forward to hearing your story soon.

Legislative Update

Federal

The House Financial Services Committee recently enacted a TRIA reauthorization proposal, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Modernization (TRIM) Act of 2014. House and Senate committees have passed differing versions of reauthorization. Accident Fund Holdings (AFHI) continues to work with our allies in Congress, most recently going to Washington and highlighting the challenges workers’ compensation insurers face when it comes to terrorism risk. Last week, AFHI sent a letter supporting TRIA reauthorization to all House Financial Services Committee Members. AFHI secured nine carrier CEO signatures, representing six states including Michigan, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin, Arizona and Iowa.

Although TRIA doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2014, AFHI feels Congress must act now and delay reauthorization no longer.

State

Wisconsin
After recent criticism regarding the composition of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson communicated he has no intention of altering the group. The council is comprised of five voting representatives from organized labor, five voting management representatives, three non-voting representatives from the insurance industry and one representative from the department. It also has liaison representatives for medical providers. Newson said that moving forward, the department will take the concerns from all segments of the business community into account. AFHI will continue to monitor this situation and any potential amending of the Wisconsin agreed bill process.

Kansas
The Kansas Workers’ Compensation Insurance Plan Governing Board recently voted to recommend to the Kansas Insurance Commissioner that NCCI be awarded the Kansas Workers’ Compensation Insurance Plan Administration contract beginning Feb. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2019, with the option for two three-year renewals. The delay in the approval past the effective date of the contract was due to extra time taken by the Kansas Department of Administration to review the bids submitted by NCCI and Aon Risk Solutions.

A meeting of the Kansas Workers’ Compensation Insurance Plan Governing Board was held in May to review the competing bids and vote to make a recommendation to the Insurance Commissioner to award a contract. The board, which is appointed by the Insurance Commissioner, voted 6-1 in favor of NCCI, with one member abstaining and one member not present.

New Mexico
The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that an insurer must reimburse a workers’ compensation claimant for the cost of medical marijuana to treat his low back pain, even though the substance is illegal under federal law. In Vialpando v. Ben’s Automotive Service and Redwood Fire & Casualty, the appellate court on Monday rejected an argument that an order to reimburse a claimant for medical marijuana would force the employer to violate federal law. We feel medical marijuana will be a priority issue throughout the states in 2015.

North Carolina
There is a provision in the Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget aimed to reduce physician dispensing, where workers’ compensation doctors repackage prescription drugs and sell them at higher rates. The House budget contains a similar provision to the one contained in the governor’s, although the Senate budget did not include this provision. We’re unsure what will happen when they start discussing in conference committee, but it’s a very positive signal to the industry they’re willing to tackle the issue.

Information in this report was sourced from Florida Insurance Council, NAMIC, WorkCompCentral, and NCCI

Disclaimer of Liability
This document is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is subject to change. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in Accident Fund Holding’s Legislative Update. However, Accident Fund Holdings makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of the Update and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this newsletter. All content within the Legislative Update is the property of Accident Fund Holdings, Inc., unless otherwise stated. All rights are reserved. No part of the Update may be reproduced, transmitted or copied in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of Accident Fund Holdings.