Third Quarter 2016
With fall’s arrival last week, we enter what is often called the harvest season. This typically applies to farmers and gardeners as they reap the last hauls of fruits and vegetables from their fields and evaluate what grew well, what didn’t, what techniques resulted in successful yields and if inattention led to poor results. In many ways, this harvest process is similar to United Heartland’s relationship with our agents.
With many long-time agents, United Heartland’s partnerships produce good, consistent results that grow and flourish with each year (see related story here). With a few, we eventually realize the business relationship was not a good match. And then there are those with great potential – new agents or agents with a similar approach as ours to workers’ compensation – that we’re still tending with the hope of achieving that bumper crop of business.
In many ways, it’s been an extremely plentiful season for UH thus far, when you consider:
- Record-setting new business results in January, March, July and September.
- Policy and premium retention are at 89% YTD as of Aug. 31.
- Our Risk Management Services team signed its largest account ever in September. (Read more here.)
- The Kansas City region is finding success writing business and building new relationships as they begin year two of our expansion into Texas. (Read more here.)
- Our agency satisfaction survey results have improved greatly from the last two years. (Read more here.)
The last item is particularly significant because our United Heartland teams have been working hard to increase our visibility in your offices and make sure we’re meeting not only your needs but your customers’ as well. It’s why we launched the new business commission incentive in August that earns you 10% commission on any new business written between now and Jan. 1, 2017.
And it’s why we’re excited to provide you additional tools to help you sell our high-touch customer service and superior claims management expertise to potential customers. Developed in response to feedback from our UH National Council members, these new marketing pieces, which we refer to as the “UH Difference for Prospects,” are tailored to each segment we serve – education, health care, long-term care, manufacturing, nonprofits/social services and wholesale/retail. The pieces highlight UH’s average claim costs (more than 24% below the industry average from 2011 to 2015), and the estimated premium savings provided to UH’s top 10 customers in each segment who saw the largest drop in their experience modification factor during their first four years with us. For example, within the health care segment, we estimated saving those 10 customers more than $1 million in premium – a significant savings!
We’ve also developed a companion piece to the UH Difference for Prospects that allows us to overlay a prospective customer’s claim frequency with our frequency experience for that customer’s particular business segment and illustrate the impact we could have potentially had on that account. This may not be applicable to use in all cases, but can be a powerful marketing piece to share with the right account.
We hope these tools will make it even easier to sell the United Heartland Difference. If there’s anything UH can do to strengthen our relationship with you further or to support your customers, please contact me directly or reach out to your underwriter or business development consultant. I hope you have a successful 10/1 and a strong finish to end the year!
Vice President, Field Operations
Noteworthy Numbers for the Year: 2016 has been a strong year for United Heartland’s Kansas City region following their expansion last October into Texas. Statistics of note, as of July 31:
- An impressive 87.8% premium retention, nearly 3 percentage points above plan
- 29% increase in submissions
- 9% accident year loss ratio for the region
- 16 new accounts in July totaling $4.3M in new business with nine of them in the education segment and one written by the Risk Management Services (loss sensitive) team
They’re also having new business success across a variety of segments. Here’s a sample of the larger accounts the Kansas City team has written recently:
- $626,000 school district in Missouri
- $555,000 nonprofit organization that serves people with intellectual disabilities in Connecticut
- $467,000 food processor with locations in California, Indiana and Nebraska
- $425,000 real estate investment firm with locations in California, North Carolina and Texas
- $325,000 school district in Kansas
- $311,000 long-term care facility in Texas
- $300,000 drug treatment center with locations in Florida
- $287,000 real estate investment firm with locations in Indiana, Louisiana and Texas
- $279,000 real estate investment firm with locations in Kansas, Missouri and Texas
- $275,000 provider of home health care and nursing services for children in Iowa
Celebrating a Year in Texas: Oct. 1 marks the Kansas City region’s first anniversary of entering the Texas market. Regional Director Adam Gildemeister is pleased with the impression his team has made in the state so far – and the welcome they’ve received too. “The Texas agencies we’ve met have been very receptive to our presence and are open to learning more about UH’s high-touch customer service model,” he said. “When I’ve reached out to prospective agent partners, they’re always friendly and eager to meet for dinner, drinks or just a quick meetup to get to know us better. I look forward to building these partnerships as we aim to have 50 agency appointments by year’s end throughout the Dallas, Houston and San Antonio regions.”
Gildemeister says several Texas agent partners have told him they appreciate UH’s local claims and loss control presence, especially when that allows these individuals to go out on marketing visits to accounts. This type of access provides United Heartland the ability to answers questions related to claims or loss control immediately and also develop a quality relationship early-on with their account handlers. Agents also appreciate United Heartland’s ability to handle multi-state accounts easily without the cumbersome issues they typically face with some of the larger carriers in the state. If you’re one of our Texas agent partners looking to write new business with us, make sure to reach out your United Heartland underwriter or business development consultant today.
Increasing Visibility with Our Agents: Gildemeister says his regional team members have made a concerted effort during the last several months to increase their presence with agents throughout the region so as to build those relationships in meaningful ways. “I challenged my team to think outside the box about how they interact with our agents,” he said. “Instead of just going into a conference room and handing out brochures, I encouraged them to build personal relationships – invite them to a concert or to a special event. These types of interactions not only help us grow our business together, but also help form friendships that l hope last outside of the office too.”
The Kansas City region has also worked to increase the segment-specific training we offer to our agents and policyholders. Loss Control Managers Steve Groth and Amy Schmidt have taken the lead in this effort by conducting two successful health care training sessions in Texas and Kansas. “Many agents tell us that no one is doing this type of training,” Gildemeister said. “We believe it’s important to help inform our agents and customers about the latest work comp issues impacting their industry and how we can help them address any potential concerns.” If your agency is interested in having UH conduct a training session with your organization or customers, contact Steve Groth about creating a customizable program to fit your needs.
Risk Management Services (RMS) Manager Pat Williams describes Wednesday, Aug. 24, as a pretty fun day. “People were excited because writing an account of this size doesn’t happen very often,” Pat said. Yes, most would agree that writing a binding order for a $7.27M account would help make anyone’s day. In doing so, the RMS team secured the largest account written by the team in its two years of existence and the largest account currently in-force for AF Group. Strong agent partnerships and customer relationships established by the United Heartland team over many years were key to this multimillion dollar deal.
The agent, who has a great relationship with United Heartland’s Milwaukee region, approached UH regarding a rather unusual prospect. The RMS team got involved quickly and together they worked with the agency and other key stakeholders, leading to an exceptional outcome for everyone.
“When you work on an account of this size and complexity,” Pat explained, “the entire team gets very invested in the outcome. During the process, you quickly realize that you’re not just working with an agency and a prospective customer; you are working with real people. It’s hard work, but it’s also interesting and can be very exciting. If you don’t get an order, it’s disappointing. But there’s no denying it — when this one finally came together, it felt terrific!”
Every year, United Heartland surveys you, our agency partners, to collect feedback on how well we collaborate with our agencies and mutual customers, and to learn where we can improve in the future. United Heartland is pleased to report that this year’s survey saw agency satisfaction scores improve in nearly all areas over the past two years!
One respondent commented: “We’re really happy with UH service, pricing and responsiveness. You set the standard in our office.” Commenting on UH’s field underwriters, one said: “They truly know our teams … from the account managers and account executives up to the producers.” And from another agent: “United Heartland does an outstanding job! We are anxious to write more business with you.”
Here are some of the highlights from this year’s survey, which took place from late May to mid June:
Drilling down further, there’s even more good news to share. UH’s Underwriting, Loss Control and Claims services earned an average 4.34 points out of 5 this year, compared to 3.28 in 2015. This was more than a full point higher and clear evidence of the high quality of service UH provides to our agent partners.
“These results show we listened to our agents’ feedback in the 2015 agent survey,” said Director of Customer Experience and Strategic Operations Danielle McCollister. “Our willingness to be responsive, proactive and supportive of your needs has made a true difference in our relationships with you. Our record-breaking new business successes show our commitment to delivering quality service to you and your customers. This success is resonating in the marketplace and attracting the attention of prospective clients.”
UH President Steve Cooper concurs: “These impressive scores are a result of our commitment to improve teamwork and communication across the company. We grew our agency base. We revamped our Midterm Review process to ensure you and your customers had increased interaction with everyone in the company. And we were able to prove that our high-touch model may not always make us the least expensive choice, but it does make us the best choice. I appreciate all that our team has done to achieve these outstanding results.”
If there is anything we can do to help build our relationship with your agency further, please reach out to your United Heartland contacts.
We say it often, but it bears repeating: United Heartland’s continued success over the last 25 years would not have been possible without the support of our agent partners. We appreciate those who share our commitment to a customer-first approach to workers’ compensation. We value those who provide us feedback to ensure we’re delivering on our promises and pursuing worthwhile strategies. We trust those who promote our expertise and dedication to the clients we serve.
United Heartland would like to recognize those agents who have been with us – and have stayed with us the longest – during these last 25 years. We thank them for their partnership in the past and look forward to continued success together in the future. Note: Agencies are listed in order of their first policy effective date.
- Diversified Insurance Solutions – January 1991
- Snyder Insurance Agency, a division of R and R Insurance Services – March 1991
- Johnson Insurance Services – March 1991
- Brown and Brown Insurance – March 1991
- Marsh USA Inc. (WI) – April 1991
- The Horton Group Inc. (WI) – April 1991
- TRICOR Insurance – May 1991
- Hierl Insurance Inc. – May 1991
- R&R Insurance of Wisconsin – June 1991
- Robertson Ryan and Associates – July 1991
- McClone Agency Inc. – July 1991
- Fitzgerald, Clayton, James & Kasten – December 1991
- Arthur J. Gallagher and Co. – May 1992
- Johnson Insurance Services (Green Bay) – June 1992
- Richards Insurance – February 1993
- Burkart-Heisdorf Insurance Agency – September 1994
- TrueNorth Companies – January 1996
- Schwarz Insurance – February 1996
- PDCM Insurance – September 1997
- Molyneaux Insurance – December 1997
- The Friedman Group – June 1998
- Hausmann-Johnson Insurance Inc. – July 1998
- L. Hubbard Insurance and Bonds – October 1999
- Wine Sergi – October 1999
- Williams-Manny Insurance Group – November 1999
AF Group – through our brands, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, United Heartland, CompWest and Third Coast Underwriters – is committed to providing the best experience possible for our customers. To assist us in this endeavor, we are conducting a customer experience survey in early October aimed at three key groups – you, our agents, policyholders and injured workers (non-litigated claims only). The responses we receive will help us identify areas to focus on and prioritize as we develop services, products, systems and processes across all our brands in the future.
To build excitement and increase participation, respondents will have the chance to win a $500 gift card! The survey will be available from Monday, Oct. 3 to Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. A link to the survey will be sent on Monday, Oct. 3, to agents via an Agent Alert and via email to those policyholders that we have email addresses for. Postcards containing survey information will be sent to policyholders and injured workers shortly after its launch. Most people will complete the survey in five to 10 minutes.
We especially encourage you to promote this survey with our policyholders so we can ensure we’re meeting their needs and providing the best experience possible. You are our best avenue of communication for many of these individuals and they trust your judgment.
We appreciate your partnership and your assistance with this important initiative. If your questions are not answered below, please reach out to your business development consultant or underwriter for more information.
Customer Experience Survey FAQs
What is this survey for?
This survey is designed to measure how our customers view their interactions with AF Group and our four insurance brands so our organization can develop strategies and direct future resources in response to their feedback.
How do you access the survey?
The survey will be available via web links that will be promoted via emails, postcards and on our customer phone lines. As part of the survey process, respondents will be asked to identify as an agent, policyholder or injured worker and then identify their brand affiliation.
When will the survey be available?
Monday, Oct. 3 to Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.
Is the survey anonymous?
Respondents can remain anonymous, but to be entered in the drawing for a chance to win a $500 gift card, a name and email address must be provided.
What if I’m an agent that writes with multiple AF Group brands?
In the survey, after you identify yourself as an agent, you will be asked: “Please select the brand you primarily do business with. You will be given a chance to review other brands later in the survey.” This will allow you to provide your customer experience feedback for all the brands you work with.
What if my customers or I have technical issues with the survey?
Send all technical questions to SurveyQuestions@AccidentFund.com. You can also contact your business development consultant or underwriter.
How will policyholders and injured workers (non-litigated claims only) be informed of the survey?
For policyholders and injured workers that we do have email addresses for, we will communicate to them electronically. We will also be sending postcards in the mail to policyholders and injured workers promoting the survey close to the survey start date. Customers calling into our brand phone lines will also hear a brief message at the beginning of each call directing them to the survey link. We hope to count on you as well to spread the word to your policyholders about our customer experience survey!
Will this customer experience survey replace the annual agent and customer satisfaction surveys?
While we have conducted different surveys to collect agent and policyholder feedback in the past, it is our intention to use this single survey to collect feedback from these key stakeholders in the future. The frequency of the survey’s distribution is still undetermined.
It’s important that you and your customers are aware of loss control information that could help them improve their safety protocols or prepare for new regulations. Below are links to recent Risk Connections that your customers may have interest in:
Starting this quarter, the UH Pulse will include information and tips on cyber security in an effort to keep your business safe – and ours! In this edition, we want to share a few scams to be aware of.
First, whether on a personal device or a work-provided one, it’s important to be mindful of the kinds of apps you’re downloading. One recent example is the popular Pokémon Go app. Researchers have discovered that many “online tutorials” for the app are linked to malicious software, which is known to target both Android and iOS devices. Learn more here.
Next, there are several social media scams to be aware of, including fake accounts, comments, discounts, surveys and more. Read about the top five social media-related scams here.
Lastly, and perhaps most disturbing, many online scammers are preying on the public’s empathy for tragedies, such as the recent Orlando club shooting and Louisiana flooding, by running fake charity scams. Click here for a few tips to keep in mind when helping out.
When in doubt, Google the latest cyber scams before clicking on an unfamiliar link. We hope these tips will help keep your agency digitally safe. For more useful information, click here for the Department of Homeland Security’s “Stop.Think.Connect.” toolkit.
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 National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has produced a second draft of the Insurance Data Security Model Law, which would set standards for insurance companies, agencies and brokers about how and when to notify consumers when a security or data breach occurs. AF Group Government Affairs, in coordination with our Information Security team, remains engaged in the national cyber debate as an active participant in the American Insurance Association’s (AIA) Cyber Task Force. On a weekly basis, the task force of industry representatives and technology subject matter experts convenes to hear current events and developments taking place in the cyber arena.
At this time, the industry continues to highlight the priority concern of uniformity to NAIC. AF Group’s primary concern with NAIC’s model law pertains to uniformity and that NAIC should not make the current landscape more complicated for insurers by creating an additional layer of potentially conflicting security and breach requirements. We recognize a need to establish security standards for the industry, but we need a well-drafted law that gives insurers a clear path to compliance without imposing burdens that do not help consumers. We believe it is essential that any model adopted by the NAIC and enacted in the states reflects reasonable and practical breach response protocols, protect consumers, and be adopted uniformly throughout the country. AF Group will continue to remain engaged nationally as cyber rules and regulations are developed.
Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation alternative, the “Oklahoma Option”, which was established in the 2013 overhaul of the state’s workers’ comp system, has been ruled unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The court ruled it was an unconstitutional “special law” that gave employers the ability to provide inequitable treatment for their injured workers. The law had allowed employers to “opt-out” of the state’s workers’ compensation system by offering an alternative private plan. This decision ultimately leaves Texas as the only state that allows employers to not carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Although the industries opposition efforts of legislative opt-out proposals have been successful to date, we anticipate renewed challenges in 2017 from proponents in Tennessee, South Carolina and potentially Wisconsin. AF Group will continue to keep you informed as opt-out initiatives gain attention and momentum throughout the 2017 legislative cycle.
The 2016 legislative session has brought a modification to the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law. Under current Missouri law, an employer has the option to pay the entire medical cost associated with a medical-only claim (no lost-time benefits) that does not exceed $1,000. If the employer exercises this option, then the claim will not impact the calculation of the experience modification (though the employer maintains an obligation to report the injury). Under enacted law SB 700, as of Aug. 28, 2016, the maximum amount for a claim to be eligible for this option would be increased from $1,000 to 20% of the experience rating split point, or $3,200 based on the currently approved split point of $16,000 in Missouri. Since the split point may change annually due to inflation adjustments, the maximum amount for a claim to be eligible for this option would be expected to increase over time.
Click here to view the enacted legislation. The new language of significance is on pages four and five.
Sources: NCCI, AIA, MIRS, WorkCompCentral