Agent News

Second Quarter 2017

Welcome from Justin Bealhen: Keeping Retention Strong Remains a Top Strategy for 2017


If you’re like me, when you eat an excellent meal at a nice restaurant, or shop for a car or new golf clubs and have a positive service experience, it sticks with you. I know I’m more inclined to return to those businesses again because I trust they’ll deliver on their promise and their value. Similarly for United Heartland, retention — and our ability to satisfy our customers’ needs through our high-touch service model — continues to be a key focus. With the support of agents like you, we’ve been extremely successful in this endeavor.

Through the end of May, our retention has been an impressive 92.8%! Achieving this type of retention level, particularly in a marketplace that’s as competitive as it is right now, isn’t easy to do. But we’ve been working hard to maintain our profitable book of business by offering competitive renewal pricing, which allows you to spend less time marketing renewals and more time hunting down new business opportunities — a true win-win for both of us. Our retention figure is likely to go even higher, as we’re estimating June retention to set a record of 97% on direct written premium of $22 million. This is an amazing feat that we couldn’t achieve without agents who are committed to our value proposition and who have confidence in our ability to handle distressed business with expertise and efficiency, so thank you.

With new business, we’re extremely opportunistic and know that when an account hits the market, United Heartland has an excellent chance of winning it over with our proven track record of superior claims handling, great customer service and expert loss control services. We want to continue to capitalize on this through the rest of the year. Through May, we’re up $2 million compared to last year’s record-setting new business results and we anticipate great things in July, one of our largest new business months.

Helping us achieve some of this new business success has been our recent entry into Oklahoma. (Read more on that here.) We’re off to a great start in the Sooner State and expect to write six accounts in our first 90 days. As we continue to appoint more agents there, we believe Oklahoma will be a great complement to our efforts in Texas. Part of the reason we entered the state is that we noticed many Oklahoma agents write business in Texas and vice versa, so this seemed a logical next step for us. Plus, for several years when I was working out of the Kansas City region, I heard from agents telling us they wanted UH to have more of a presence in Oklahoma. A number of multiline carriers had not fared well in the state and agents believed a monoline organization such as ours would be a great fit. Given some of the state’s recent work comp reforms, I feel confident this will be the case.

As mentioned earlier, July 1 is one of the most important dates of the year for United Heartland. I encourage you to keep the submissions coming on strong and send us accounts that can benefit from our customer-centered focus on workers’ compensation. Please contact me or one of our business development consultants to see how we can support you in identifying new business opportunities that will help bring you success for years to come.

Enjoy the upcoming Fourth of July holiday!

Justin Bealhen
Vice President, Field Operations
United Heartland

United Heartland Recognizes Top Regional Performing Agencies for 2016

In last quarter’s UH Pulse, M3 Insurance was recognized as United Heartland’s 2016 Agency of the Year. This quarter, UH is recognizing three high-performing agencies in our other regions — Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago and Kansas City  (M3 is based in the Milwaukee region). These agencies support United Heartland’s high-touch customer service approach to workers’ compensation and are valued partners with our organization. We are honored to recognize them as United Heartland Regional Agencies of the Year for 2016.

Charlotte Region Agency of the Year: TIS Insurance Services Inc.

Comments on TIS from Regional Director Mike McKeon: Having been UH’s Agency of the Year in 2015, it’s no surprise their strong performance continued for a second year in a row. TIS achieved a new business quote-to-hit ratio of 43%, which was nearly double the ratio for the Charlotte region in 2016. Despite the soft market, TIS achieved exceptional retention levels when looking at before renewal (91%), after renewal (94%) and client count (88%). Profitability is their strength as well, with a 20% loss ratio at the end of 2016. Having also achieved several successes with our Risk Management Services team, TIS remains the Charlotte region’s largest agency and one we have a very solid relationship with.

Chicago Region Agency of the Year: MJ Insurance Inc.

Comments on MJ Insurance from Regional Director Steve Zajc: MJ Insurance had a great year with us, writing more than $1.1 million in new business, including two large multi-state accounts. Given that Indiana has some of the lowest work comp rates in the country, this type of production is exceptional. The 2016 new business success represents MJ’s commitment to and appreciation of United Heartland’s high-touch, value-added service model, which has distinguished United Heartland as a carrier of choice within the agency. UH Senior Client Relations Consultant Tara Junkans’ involvement with training and assisting MJ’s multi-state customers on RiskView, in addition to her coordination of the claims and loss control services, has been greatly appreciated. New business wasn’t the only bright spot for MJ, as their book was extremely profitable with an impressive 28.5% accident year loss ratio.

Kansas City Region Agency of the Year: Holmes Murphy and Associates (HMA)

Comments on HMA from Regional Director Adam Gildemeister: We are very pleased to recognize Holmes Murphy and Associates as the Kansas City region’s 2016 Agency of the Year. HMA wrote an incredible $2.4M in new business with us last year, maintained a 42% accident year loss ratio, increased submissions by 15% and had a 61% hit-to-quote ratio. Numbers aside, we have developed tremendous relationships with each of their teams across the Midwest. They are an extremely valued partner and we look forward to continued success with them.

Regional Focus: High Retention, Strong Illinois Performance Help Chicago Region Thrive

Momentum from 2016 Produces Positive Results to Start Year: The Chicago region, which covers Illinois, Indiana and the eastern half of Iowa, has continued to produce strong results during the past 12 months. In-force premium for the region through May 31 of this year stands just shy of $67 million, up 6% from this time last year. Other regional highlights as of May 31 include:

  • 94.6% premium retention
  • 32.3% accident year loss ratio
  • Maintained a combined ratio of 90% or better in the state of Illinois for 5 consecutive years
  • Two new Risk Management Services (loss sensitive) accounts written in Indiana

And here’s a sample of what the Chicago region has written recently:

  • $369,000 private university with a 1.26 experience mod
  • $164,000 manufacturer with a 1.25 experience mod
  • $115,000 manufacturer with a 0.67 experience mod
  • $502,000 manufacturer with a 0.94 experience mod
  • $648,000 manufacturer with a 1.52 experience mod

New Hires in Business Development and Loss Control: The Chicago region is pleased to announce that Senior Business Development Consultant Michael Minnaert has joined the team and will be handling agencies in Illinois and eastern Iowa. “We’re excited to have Michael on board to help continue success in our region,” said Mike Rouse, Chicago Regional Manager of Business Development. Michael will be working out of his home near Princeton, Ill., and is eager to get to know the agents in his territory better.

Meanwhile, due to the continued business growth in Indiana, Regional Director of Business Development Steve Zajc is pleased to announce the recent hiring of Senior Loss Control Consultant Yolanda Washington, the team’s second Indiana-based loss control consultant, joining Jon Roush, who is based in South Bend. “This is a win-win as our continued growth necessitated the hire and Yolanda will be a great addition to our team in Indiana.” Yolanda lives near Indianapolis and will be handling northwestern, central and southern Indiana


United Heartland Adds Oklahoma As Its 17th Core State!

United Heartland announced last month that Oklahoma has become United Heartland’s 17th core state for pursuing workers’ compensation business. This move reflects the continued expansion of our business footprint in the central U.S. region and aligns with our belief that there is a strong demand for the high-touch, customer service-focused approach to workers’ compensation that United Heartland excels at providing. This follows our recent entries into Florida in 2013 and Texas in 2015.

Under the guidance of Adam Gildemeister, regional director for the Kansas City region, the United Heartland team will explore opportunities for appointing agents and identifying qualified customers within the Sooner State. Our goal is to work with Oklahoma agency partners who share our focus on our six key business segments — education, health care, long-term care, manufacturing, nonprofits/social services and wholesale/retail — as well as our commitment to service. We are also eager to demonstrate our value proposition and our tireless commitment to controlling our customer’s total cost of risk.

Positively impacting experience modification factors is one way United Heartland helps our customers see savings. This flier illustrates how we have helped lower experience mods for clients across all of our core segments and the estimated savings they achieved as a result. We are confident Oklahoma will bring opportunities for success for both the agents we partner with and the customers we help make safer. If you have accounts in Oklahoma that would benefit from United Heartland’s high-touch approach toward workers’ compensation, please contact Adam Gildemeister directly at 913-323-2562, on his cell at 913-461-4112 or via email at

UH’s Diana Stegall Elected to ASSE Leadership Role; Will Serve As Its President in 2019

United Heartland is proud to announce Senior Loss Control Specialist Diana Stegall was recently elected senior vice president of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). With her election to this role, Stegall will serve for a year-long term beginning July 1, then will serve as president-elect beginning July 1, 2018, before becoming president of the organization for a year-long term on July 1, 2019. Stegall has been active for more than two decades in ASSE and currently serves as Region V Vice President, which includes most of United Heartland’s core states in the Midwest.

Diana_Stegall3“My passion for ASSE was ignited when I attended my first leadership conference while I was still in Region VI,” she said in her platform statement. “The experience helped me to understand ASSE’s structure beyond chapter operations and the ways ASSE works together to protect people, property and the environment.”

Through her work with the ASSE conference planning committee, Stegall said she was fortunate to spend time with safety experts throughout the industry, such as Dr. David Michaels, former assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). “It has been great to have contacts at that level,” she said. “To be able to get insight from them about the regulatory process is fascinating.”

Stegall would not have considered running for such a position within ASSE were it not for the support of United Heartland’s management team. “Loss Control Director Rick Bartelme, Loss Control Manager Steve Groth, Vice President of Insurance Operations Curt LeBeau and President Steve Cooper have all been enormously supportive of my continued and future involvement in ASSE,” she said, noting that the appeal of her continued ASSE involvement was the benefits it brings to our organization, our agents and our customers.

“Being affiliated with the United Heartland name and being in states or jurisdictions where we may be relatively new or have a limited presence will provide me the opportunity to promote United Heartland’s value on a more consistent and widespread basis,” Stegall said. “I will also have the ability to tap into ASSE’s network of safety professionals to get the latest industry news, research answers to challenging questions from our agents and ensure that we’re providing our customers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.”

For more information about ASSE, visit

United Heartland Named as Top Workplace in Southeastern Wisconsin

United Heartland was once again named to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s 2017 Top Workplaces list for midsize companies in southeastern Wisconsin. Selection for this honor is based on survey feedback provided by United Heartland employees, so it’s gratifying to see how much they support and value their workplace.

“At United Heartland, we pride ourselves on having a workplace culture that encourages professional growth and individual achievement, while still fostering a welcoming environment of camaraderie and fun,” said Danielle McCollister, director of Customer Experience and Strategic Operations. “This Top Workplaces recognition will help to make others in southeastern Wisconsin more aware of our dynamic team and recognizes each United Heartland employee who has helped to make us the organization we are today.”

“We are a company that deeply cares about our employees, customers and agents,” said Steve Cooper, president of United Heartland. “It is a great honor to receive this award for seven consecutive years. First-in-class customer service is our highest priority and a top work environment helps United Heartland employees provide service that separates us from the competition.”

2016 AF Group Annual Report Available Online

2016 was a year of great success and growth for United Heartland and a record-breaking year for the AF Group enterprise. As always, our valued agent partnerships played a key role in helping us achieve, and in many cases, surpass our goals. To see how the organization and each of its brands performed, we encourage you to review the 2016 AF Group Annual Report: Delivering the Exceptional, now available online.

You’ll find a letter from AF Group President Lisa Corless about our extraordinary performance, 2016 financial performance for each brand, notable highlights from the past year and details on the many ways the organization gave back to the communities where our many employees work and live. For more details, visit

Legislative Update

Legislative Update is a brief synopsis of relevant legislative activity currently taking place in states where United Heartland does business. For more details or further documentation on any of these legislative activities, contact your underwriter or business development consultant.


  • The General Assembly passed legislation (HB 2525) establishing price controls on workers’ compensation insurers and (HB 2622) creating the Illinois Employers Mutual Insurance Company (IEMIC), a state-sponsored fund to provide workers’ compensation insurance in Illinois. House and Senate Democrats, who are at odds with the governor on virtually all fronts, promoted both bills. AF Group industry partners AIA, Illinois Chamber and the Illinois Insurance Association opposed both proposals.
  • More recently, House Republican leadership introduced a modest series of budget and business reforms (HB 4068), which include two industry supported measures: the establishment of a Medicare-based fee schedule, and calls for the creation of an evidence-based drug formulary. In coordination with our trades, AF Group is supportive of HB 4068 and has requested that Gov. Bruce Rauner veto both HB 2525/HB 2622, which we believe he is inclined to do. We will remain engaged as the situation in Springfield continues.


The Workers’ Compensation Health Care Services Advisory Committee, led by Director Mark Long, recently took action on new air ambulance reimbursement regulation and the 2017-2018 fee schedule conversion factor. Nationally, air ambulance transporters have been charging exorbitant fees — regulation to set the fee schedule at 140% of Medicare for all air ambulance reimbursement successfully progressed out of Committee. Because he is not witnessing any access to care issues, and as a result of Medicare conversion, providers will receive a bit of a rate increase; the director sees no reason to increase workers’ compensation provider reimbursements at this time, and moved forward with an official recommendation to maintain the current fee schedule conversion factor.

Through the Advisory Committee, each initiative will now receive a public hearing, prior to proceeding to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) where we anticipate them to pass into law.

North Carolina

North Carolina Supreme Court has issued its decision in Wilkes v. City of Greenville, ruling that once an injury has proven established as compensable, there is a rebuttable presumption that any additional medical treatment is related to the compensable injury. AF Group national trade partner, the American Insurance Association, has filed an amicus brief in this action arguing against the presumption. The industry will be engaging with employer groups to seek a legislative solution to this decision. More to come as this situation progresses.


Labor and Industry Review Commission – The proposal that would’ve eliminated the state’s Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) has failed. The issue will certainly arise in next year’s budget, but for now the status quo is maintained.

Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council – Assembly Labor Committee held a hearing on Assembly Bill 308, which would alter the membership on the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council. The legislation proposes to change the composition of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) to reflect the current unionized versus non-unionized labor force. Proponents of the bill argue that unionized labor should not be allowed to have five voting members on the council if unions only make up 8% of the workforce. Opponents argue that the legislation is not needed and would upend the delicate balance that exists on the council between labor and management. AF Group partners at the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance have opposed this legislation and successfully stalled the initiative for now.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) announced the creation of the Innovation and Technology (EX) Task Force to help insurance regulators stay informed on key developments, including new products and services from start-up companies, as well as established insurance industry players. The task force reports directly to the NAIC Executive Committee. Michigan Insurance Director Patrick M. McPharlin and Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali Robison will lead the task force as chair and vice chair, respectively. Of particular interest to AF Group, the new task force will also oversee the work of the Big Data Working Group and the Cybersecurity Working Group.