There’s an exciting change happening at Relation Insurance Services, today. After 11 years, Parthenon Capital Partners and Century Equity Partners will be transferring ownership of Relation to Aquiline Capital Partners, effective March 31, 2019.
You can access the press release here.
For some time now, we’ve been evaluating a host of strategic options for our company. This will be a great partnership because the Aquiline team is a fantastic group of folks with tremendous insurance knowledge who believe in the vision and values that the Relation leadership team has put in place. It will allow Relation to keep doing what we’ve been doing, and also make more investments to drive additional growth through organic growth and acquisitions. Our shared vision with Aquiline is that Relation will continue to be one of the nation’s leading independent insurance brokerages.
Other than a change in asset ownership, you can expect business as usual. Our name, our people, our locations, our practices, and our services will remain intact. I will continue to run the business, along with our President and COO, Ed Page. Relation as a whole continues as is. Our goal is, and always will be, to connect the dots to provide the very best insurance solutions and legendary service for our clients.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients and partners for your ongoing support over the past 11 years. I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the entire Relation team. Last but not least, a big thank you to the teams at Parthenon Capital and Century Equity Partners for their continued support. We would not be where we are today, without their backing, guidance, and encouragement. I look forward to a bright future as we continue to grow together.
An annual review of your insurance coverage may be the time to make changes in coverage, endorsements, or carriers.
Any time you make changes in the way your business runs, you can also change your exposure to risks. As your organizational needs evolve over time, it’s a good business practice to consider whether there are other carriers that can offer reduced premiums or expanded coverage better suited to your requirements as you grow, move, or expand your offerings.
Fortunately, the insurance marketplace is responsive to changing risks that buyers face. In some cases, it may make more sense to remain with your current carrier but update the terms of your program agreements to reflect your current operations. In other cases, a new carrier may be able to provide coverage more tailored to the new risks your company is encountering. Transitioning to a new insurer could have unintended consequences, however. The experience of your insurance advisor can be invaluable.
Should you choose to make a change, a strong relationship between you, your insurance broker, and the carriers will make the transition as smooth as possible.
Here are four ways your insurance broker can keep you informed about your choice of carrier to help you avoid any surprises.
1. Stay Ahead of New Market Conditions/New Insurers/New Coverages
Your broker can keep you apprised of factors impacting the overall market to prepare you for possible premium increases or decreases with your existing carrier well in advance of renewal. The broker should also be aware of insurers that are offering new lines of coverage and should approach the carriers for quotes on your behalf.
In addition, brokers can help you stay ahead of emerging coverages and potential exposures that may affect your business, which is critical to avoiding losses that may not be covered under your current policies. Understanding the differences among your policies, knowing what they do and do not cover, and advising you on what endorsements you should obtain for your standard policies can help ensure that your company isn’t exposed to unnecessary or avoidable risks.
Recently we worked with a new client to provide coverage for social engineering fraud (SEF), which occurs when a hacker imitating a senior executive, sends a phishing email to an employee telling the employee to wire company funds to a bank account on an emergency basis. The business owner mistakenly believed that either the cyber policy or the crime policy covered the loss. But neither of the policies had been endorsed to provide SEF coverage, and the business was left with a gap in coverage that the risk manager hadn’t realized until we brought it to the manager’s attention.
2. Update the Fine Print of Your Program Agreements
Most carrier agreements stipulate that in the event you transition to a different insurer, the collateral amount can be reset at the carrier’s discretion. If your policy is on a large deductible or other type of loss-sensitive program, you might experience substantial cost implications. Your broker can thoroughly review your program agreements with your insurers and, if possible, amend this wording by setting specific parameters around how the collateral will be calculated. For example, the calculation might include predetermined loss-development factors or consideration of the insured’s outside actuary calculations.
3. Review Outstanding Claims
When you change carriers, there will inevitably be outstanding claims to process, but standard agreements typically nullify any special claims-handling procedures that were put in place while you had your coverage with the insurer. As a result, you will still be dealing with claims, but you might lose the ability to have any or all of the following:
- Free claims reviews
- Use of a pre-selected defense counsel
- Notification of reserve changes
- Ability to have input on settlement amounts
- Continuity of adjusters because the insurer will most likely move any open claims to a different unit
Your broker should review the agreement around what happens if you move from the insurer and, when appropriate, modify the agreement to create as much certainty as possible around the way outstanding claims will be handled.
4. Adjust for Changes in Insured Operations
Many insurance policies limit coverage to events that occur in a certain geographic area. The insured area is often referred to as the “coverage territory.” If your company expands its operations outside the United States, your broker will need to review the coverage territory in all policies to ensure there are no exposures in your new areas of operation that aren’t covered in the existing policy. Similarly, if your company begins offering new products or expands on the scope of existing services, an in-depth review of your existing coverages is necessary to make certain no new coverage is needed.
Here are two examples of changes in insured operations that we’ve helped our clients with recently:
- An insured established a new 401(k) plan and began providing health coverage to employees. They now needed fiduciary liability coverage because these plans are subject to ERISA and present possible personal liability to plan administrator.
- An Insured decided to hire a sales force who will be driving on company business. After reviewing their options, they elected to increase the limits carried on their automobile liability coverage and added to their umbrella coverage limits.
Anticipating and planning for change is part of business. Don’t be lulled into a sense of complacency and simply renew with the same insurer year after year. You have options. Your broker is a trusted business partner who can help you actively avoid any of the potential insurance minefields that come with change, as well as choose the right path forward for your continued business success.
About the Author
Joe Tatum is the CEO of Relation Insurance Services, a premier insurance brokerage that offers risk-management and benefits-consulting services through its family of brands across the United States.
This article originally appeared on the PropertyCasualty360 website here and in a printed edition of National Underwriter.
With Hurricane Florence gaining in strength and intensity and due to hit the East Coast in a matter of hours, we urge all of you to make sure you have a plan in place and are prepared for the worst-case scenario, even if you or your business are in an inland county. Your safety and wellbeing are important to us and we want to let you know that we care and we are here for you during this storm.
To be available to YOU when you need us most, our Relation Storm Team will be working remotely with extended hours from 7am-7pm throughout the storm, starting Thursday, 9/13, and continuing every day through Monday, 9/17 (including Saturday and Sunday).
We will be available to take your calls and respond to emails and file any necessary claims as needed. We have also included direct claims reporting and payment information for our major insurance carriers below for your convenience to report your claim directly on a 24-hour basis.
If you are unsure of your carrier or policy information, you can call our main number at 704-688-1228 or 800-456-1696 or email us at [email protected] during our extended hours to assist you in getting your claim filed. During normal business hours, you may continue to reach out to your account manager as you do currently.
Florence is expected to be the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on the Carolinas in decades. Experts are expecting wide and significant impact to our area, no matter where it ultimately comes ashore. At the very least, we can expect Florence to bring heavy rain and wind which can easily cause flooding and power outages. There is additional concern due to the large expected area of impact and the extended time that it may stay in our area. Many of our client families and businesses are already under a mandatory evacuation with more on the way. If you are in an evacuation zone, please heed that warning and DO NOT attempt to stay in your home. If you are not under an evacuation order, there is still time to prepare. We have attached some storm tips as well as a blank emergency plan that might be helpful to your household in this process.
Our Coast is expected to feel the blast early tomorrow with damaging and life-threatening storm surge, wind and rain. In central areas, we expect to feel the impact due to sustained rainfall and significant wind. In western areas of our states, we should still be prepared for heavy and sustained rain that might trigger flooding and mudslides. Please stay alert and take this storm seriously no matter where you live in our Carolinas and East Coast states. If you are under an evacuation order, please heed that order. If you aren’t under an evacuation order, take this time to gather your supplies: food, water, flashlights, extra batteries, medications and important documents. Remember to make plans for your pets. Clear your yard of debris that can cause damage in high winds.
Both North Carolina and South Carolina have some great resources and mobile applications for your use in preparation for and during the storm:
The ReadyNC mobile app gives information on real-time traffic and weather conditions, river levels, evacuations, and power outages and is an all-in-one FREE tool for emergency preparedness. The SC mobile app can help you build your emergency plan, keep track of supplies and stay connected to loved ones. In addition, coastal residents can now “Know Your Zone” instantly using the maps feature as well as locate the nearest emergency shelters when they are open. The tools section features a flashlight, locator whistle and the ability to report damage to emergency officials.
Federal sites are also helpful, or download the FEMA mobile app for resources on how to plan and prepare for a hurricane event as well as steps to take afterward to minimize damage and to get back in business or back in your residence as soon as possible. You can also text PREPARE to 4FEMA (43362) to receive useful tips about how to prepare for disasters.
Please be safe during this storm and reach out to us at any time with questions and concerns.
Other Helpful Resources
Personal Lines Claims Reporting Phone List
Personal Lines Direct Bill Payment Phone List
Commercial Lines Claims Reporting Phone List
Commercial Lines Direct Bill Payment Phone List
Relation Storm Tips
Household Emergency Plan
What to Take to a Shelter
19 Post-Florence Tips: What to Do After the Hurricane
Written by Michael Weintraub
I was the Chair of the Life Happens® board back when the nonprofit was called the LIFE Foundation. (My wife loved to introduce me to others as the Chair of LIFE!) Last year, the board asked me to return as a member of its executive committee and take the position as Treasurer for its general board. I accepted the roles, as I can say I genuinely love and appreciate this organization for what they do. While many insurance companies and salespeople often make the simple complex by using complicated jargon and confusing spreadsheets, Life Happens® is all about presenting life insurance in a framework everyone can understand. They help consumers (and advisors) understand that people buy life insurance because of their love for someone else.
Check out one of their videos below on the long-lasting effects of life insurance. It’s short, only 90 seconds, but it’s truly powerful. The premiums for life insurance are at historical lows, so if this video helps motivate others to review their life-insurance policies, we want to help by sharing it.
About Life Happens
Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Americans take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products, including disability and long-term care insurance. They were formed in 1994 by seven leading insurance producer organizations, which recognized the need to better educate the public about important insurance planning topics.
Life Happens consistently creates impactful and award-winning content that consumers see and the industry uses. They’ve garnered awards and nominations from the Webby Awards, Best in Biz Awards, Web Awards, The Telly Awards, and others.
By Joe Dunn, Angel Mendez, and Scott W. Dunn
Agribusiness clients are acutely aware of the high premiums they pay for workers’ compensation, premises liability, health insurance and the steps they can take to mitigate those costs. On the other hand, automobile liability has historically been a low-cost, low-visibility afterthought. Not anymore.
The risk associated with catastrophic vehicle-related losses is on the radar of underwriters who insure agricultural operations.
Many have seen loss ratios spike to 90 percent or higher on their auto liability book of business and are alarmed by the skyrocketing frequency and severity trends. In an informal poll, agricultural insurers expressed concerns that the market for auto coverage is seriously underpriced, and some are considering rate increases as high as 30 percent. Said one underwriter, “If you can’t get enough rate, you just have to walk away from some accounts.”
Consider the following scenarios:
- As he does every day, a California farm labor contractor transports employees to and from job sites. One evening, while driving six workers home, the contractor drifts off the highway. He overcorrects, causing the van to flip several times. All six passengers, including two underage girls, are ejected from the vehicle. Three men are pronounced dead at the scene and one of the underage girls later dies from her injuries.
- After inspect-ing a field to be harvested, a farm labor contractor employee stops at a bar and consumes five shots of whiskey and two 22-ounce beers in a three-hour period. He subsequently climbs into his truck and, while texting, rear-ends a car stopped at a red light. A four-year-old boy in the rear-ended car is killed instantly, while his mother and sister are injured.
Catastrophic vehicle losses have a significant impact on the agribusiness industry and create turmoil for both insureds and insurers. The emotional and financial toll in the case of a death or severe disability resulting from a vehicular accident can affect victims and their families forever. Employers dealing with vehicle-related claims involving their employees also face the devastating financial consequences of insured and uninsured costs increasing exponentially.
The insured costs most likely to be impacted arise from automobile liability, umbrella/excess liability, workers’ compensation and employers’ liability policies. Insureds typically have deductibles, or self-insured retentions and claim costs will need to be paid. In the longer run, a poor motor-vehicle or employee-injury-loss history can result in premium increases, mid-term cancellations, or worse yet — the unwillingness of any carrier to quote the account. Uninsured costs, including the following, are frequently overlooked but can be even more costly:
- Lost production time;
- Damage to crops/other products;
- Increased overtime for existing employees;
- Loss of experienced staff;
- Need to hire and train new/temporary labor;
- Damaged employee morale;
- Investigation and legal expenses;
- Governmental agency audits/fines;
- Loss of management’s time; and
- Negative publicity.
The risk associated with catastrophic vehicle-related losses is on the radar of underwriters who insure agricultural operations.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2016 was a deadly year on the roads with 37,461 deaths — a 5.6 percent increase over the number of deaths in 2015. In addition, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths, accounting for 24 percent of all occupational fatalities, according to the National Safety Council.
The silver lining in the NHTSA study is that more than 94 percent of accidents are caused by human error and are thus preventable with proper training.
For employers, the best preventative tools are careful driver recruitment and comprehensive driver and fleet safety education. The “gold standard” of driver training is the National Safety Council’s Certified Defensive Driver Courses, which are available in either a classroom setting or online. For employers that are unable to commit their workforce to the time and expense of an intensive certificate program, insurers and broker loss control and claims consultants can tailor short “tailgate talk” training sessions that focus on, amongst other things, the following topics:
- Driver-selection tips;
- Drug-and-alcohol testing protocols;
- MVR-review policies;
- Defensive-driving techniques;
- Cell-phone usage;
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance;
- Accident response and investigation procedures;
- Post-loss claim-mitigation strategies;
- Driver-incentive and discipline programs; and
- Mock DOT and OSHA audits.
Employers’ negotiating positions on auto liability, umbrella/excess and workers’ compensation program renewals are strengthened when they can demonstrate to underwriters the tangible steps they have taken to become a better-than-average risk. The potential return on investment? Objectively, a well-designed safety program that has achieved meaningful reductions in auto and employee injury claims can yield the following financial benefits:
- Increased competition for the account as underwriters vie for quality risks.
- The ability to effectively counter upward premium pressures.
- The confidence to increase deductibles or retentions, thus lowering premiums.
Subjectively, employers will have a safer workplace and more contented workforce.
The farm labor contractor from the first scenario did not have a driver’s license and ended up being sued by multiple parties. He filed for bankruptcy and ultimately went out of business. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor sued the grower that hired him for violating worker safety and transportation laws.
The alcohol-impaired driver from the second scenario was sentenced to a mandatory 16-year prison term for gross vehicular homicide. His employer’s auto and umbrella liability coverage ended up paying out a multi-million-dollar settlement.
This whitepaper was featured in Insurance Journal’s Workers’ Compensation Newsletter on March 1, 2018 and published as an eMagazine on February 19, 2018.
Joe Dunn is the claim services manager, Mendez is a senior loss-control consultant, and Scott W. Dunn is vice president/risk advisor specializing in agribusiness, all of Pan American Insurance Services, a Relation company.
Written by Kelly Tonsing
Traditionally, personal umbrella insurance policies have been reserved for the rich and famous. Today, however, “personal umbrellas” are becoming a standard purchase for many middle-class insurance buyers who understand their risk in a litigious economy. Adding significant personal coverage at an insignificant cost, umbrella policies offer an extra layer of liability protection on top of one’s home or auto policy. Just as the name suggests, personal umbrella policies are designed to shield you from a very rainy day.
Are You at Risk?
Here are a few hypothetical—but realistic—scenarios that might prompt you to consider the value of an umbrella policy:
- Scenario 1:
You hire a professional painter to paint the trim around the top of your house. He falls off his ladder and is killed on impact. Even though the painter is found partially responsible for his fall, the case results in a $1.5 million settlement to his survivors. In this instance, would your current homeowner insurance policy provide you the necessary protection?
- Scenario 2:
Your daughter is turning 16 and wants to celebrate by having her friends over for a pool party in the backyard. One of the teens, showing off, decides to do a backflip into the shallow end of the pool. His face collides with the bottom of the pool, causing major damage to his jaw, teeth, and eye socket. You learn from his parents and the doctor that the boy will require months of reconstructive surgeries to repair the damage. Would you be prepared to write a check to cover his medical expenses?
- Scenario 3:
While driving to work, you accidentally bump your thermos from your cup holder. As you reach for the thermos to prevent hot coffee from spilling all over your lap, you strike a bicyclist in a crosswalk. The bicyclist, who also happens to be a doctor, incurs injuries including a concussion and a broken pelvis. As a result, he must undergo extensive physical therapy and is not able to work for four months. His annual income is $350,000, which means, as a direct result of the accident, he loses $120,000 in wages and accrues more than $500,000 in medical expenses. What level of liability does your auto policy include? Do you have enough equity in your house to cover this? How about in your retirement account?
These situations are commonplace and can happen to anyone. Just one lawsuit from an injury or accidental death could cost you millions of dollars—enough to wipe out your savings and retirement accounts. Because you are liable for a court-ordered settlement, even your future wages are at risk.
If you have assets (e.g., homes, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, and/or cars), you are at risk to lose everything, as basic policies only cover a small portion of these possessions. Ask your agent to fill out an asset worksheet to determine whether or not you could benefit from a personal-umbrella policy. Because when the clouds roll in, you’ll want to stay dry.
If you are considering making a career move to Ascension Insurance, Inc. (and I hope you are!), allow me to offer you the insider’s perspective from someone who has six months under her belt.
First, a little bit about me. Like most millennials, I want to be part of an innovative, cutting-edge organization. When the opportunity to join the Ascension Human Resources team came up, I initially felt as though I’d be taking a huge leap. I wasn’t actively looking for a new opportunity, and I was happily working from home, at a job I was good at and enjoyed. And to be honest, when thinking on the insurance industry, “innovative” and “cutting edge” weren’t the first words to come to mind. Besides, I knew it would take a lot to make me feel like driving into work, every day, again.
But after spending some time in the Ascension world, my perspective shifted. Ascension seeks out people who complement its company culture, so the interview process is thorough—mine comprised two phone interviews followed by two in-person meetings. One thing I noticed, which is what ultimately led me to accept the job offer, was present throughout the interviewing process: the employees’ caring attitude, at every level of the company.
A few weeks into my new role, I attended a sales-leadership meeting at our corporate headquarters in Walnut Creek, CA. Upon arriving, I was given a tour. Every person we ran into stopped and greeted me as they would a longtime friend. The President & COO, Ed Page, and the CEO, Joe Tatum, waved us into Ed’s office as we passed by. I introduced myself, but they already knew who I was, and asked me about my March Madness brackets. Later, at the sales meeting, Joe asked me, with sincerity and a genuine curiosity, what my thoughts were on key initiatives, pain points, room for improvement, and various other topics. Does that kind of welcome and soliciting of input happen everywhere?
Here are a few other things that have stood out to me in the last six months:
- People here really care about one another. They’re dedicated to each other’s success, and they work hard to help one another.
- We celebrate small victories on a day-to-day basis, which keeps morale high.
- Birthdays, work anniversaries, and/or retirements don’t go unnoticed by colleagues, who quickly become friends.
- If you’re lucky enough to work in the Overland Park, KS office as I do, you’ll never go hungry!
- Ascension IS cutting edge and innovative.
- Everything you do and every initiative you see through, results in a measurable, meaningful value-add that gets traced back to you.
- Even with 450+ employees, the executive team is accessible and transparent. I can pick up the phone and call any one of them. They know who I am, and they take the time to listen and help if necessary.
Many of my coworkers have been here for thirty, forty years, and that makes this a special place. We aren’t looking for warm bodies to fill roles here. We want “A” players, the best of the best. And once you’re in the Ascension family, you’re in. To me, that’s worth jumping in my car every day. To fully understand what it means to be a part of the Ascension family, you’ll have to join us and find out for yourself!
Click here to visit our Careers center and learn more about how you can join us!
Nut theft is no joking matter—it’s a significant and growing threat to California’s $9 billion+ nut-tree business. With more than 30 nut-theft events in 2015 compared to just one in 2009 and four in 2014, what once warranted only local agricultural area media coverage now garners national mainstream attention. The 2015 price tag? $4.6 million.
That’s enough of a hit to a vital California industry to make the state’s legislature sit up and take notice. Last year, both houses passed a bill—in record time—to establish a statewide, cross-jurisdictional “Agricultural Cargo Theft Working Group.” This funding mechanism would have activated and aligned numerous law-enforcement agencies in helping target these crimes, but Governor Brown unexpectedly vetoed the legislation on September 21, 2016. Additional legislation is in the works to increase criminal penalties for thieves from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Tailoring Insurance Coverage
In the event they are the victim of nut theft, growers should have a strong post-loss solution. As such, it’s important they work with an agent or broker with specialized expertise to ensure they have properly structured insurance placements. The analysis starts with contract review: Who bears the risk, and are there “handoffs” along the path from tree to processor to final end-user? Only when these terms are understood can insurance coverage be negotiated and implemented.
Why Steal Nuts?
- They’re valuable: A truckload of nuts, especially almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, can range from $100-500K.
- They’re in demand: Touted health benefits and drought have strained supply.
- They’re not easily traced: Unlike electronics, nuts don’t have serial numbers!
- They vanish quickly: By the time a theft is discovered, the nuts are often already on a ship or broken into smaller loads and dispersed to out-of-state destinations.
The following approaches are available to growers and distributors:
- Commercial-Package Policy
There may be some coverage for Business Personal Property Stock in Transit under the basic policy form. However, this transit coverage tends to cover only a limited number of perils, so relying on this extension could lead to an uncovered loss.
- Cargo/Transit Policy
Once the shipment is in the correct trucking carrier’s control, ensure the trucking carriers’ cargo policies do not exclude theft for any reason other than employee dishonesty, which is excluded by most cargo policies (this can be easily covered with a separate crime policy). Many trucking cargo policies will exclude or limit theft coverage if the vehicle is unattended or if a trailer is dropped. Additionally, consider requiring a crime policy to cover theft by employees of the trucking carrier (including theft by the dispatcher and/or the driver).
- Stock-Throughput Policy (STP)
An STP offers growers and distributors the most comprehensive protection: Goods are covered at all times whether they’re being moved, processed, or stored. An STP can be an “all risk” type of insurance policy that provides seamless coverage from end to end and protects against perils including earthquakes, floods, and contamination.
Pre-Loss Risk Control
Growers and distributors should do everything possible on their end to prevent a theft situation, but orchard premises security (i.e., fencing, cameras, a guard service, etc.), is not an end-all-be-all solution. Nut theft is more commonly an act of fraud rather than an act of force.
Perpetrators are often part of organized crime groups, using sophisticated technologies to hack into trucking firms and utilize Department of Transportation databases. “Drivers” show up with high-quality, legitimate-looking paperwork. These forged documents incorporate burner phone numbers and enable thieves to steal shipping information and to quickly move the product to the black market stream of commerce. The thieves, and their loot, become immediately untraceable.
Growers/distributors can take any of the following precautions to prevent theft:
- Develop a relationship with a few select trucking carriers with whom a consistent protocol can be established to confirm the correct drivers are picking up the loads.
- Ensure your computer systems’ security is state-of-the-art, and ask carriers about their data integrity.
- Call the carrier on the phone number provided during the originally contracted shipment and not the phone number given on any shipping documents (given their potential fraudulent nature). Require those firms to advise detailed information at least 24 hours in advance of pick up.
- Get each driver’s license number and thumbprint.
- Photograph both the driver and his/her truck.
- Consider using radio-frequency trackers to ensure the loads end up where intended.
Because of the potential high profits and low risk, nut theft continues to be alluring for thieves and a challenge for growers/distributors. Taking a 360° risk-management approach—contract review, insurance program design, and pre-loss prevention can go a long way towards minimizing or, at best, avoiding exposure to loss.
About the Authors
Greg Merrill is Senior Vice President and Director of Crop Insurance Services of our Pan American business unit. Greg has been helping agribusiness clients manage a wide range of operating risks for more than 13 years.
Andy Sharpe is Regional Transportation Leader for Ascension’s Transure business unit. For more than 15 years, Andy has focused on transportation risk management and insurance, and is a renowned industry specialist.
For the first time since 2010, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) is changing the formula for calculating experience modifications, effective January 1, 2017. This could impact your Workers’ Compensation premiums.
What is an Experience Modification?
Experience rating is a method that compares an employer to other companies in its industry class based on their historical claims experience. It is expressed as a percentage—called an experience modification factor, or “Ex Mod”—and utilizes past loss experience to help predict future losses. The Ex Mod is applied against premium and either penalizes a company (if its loss experience is worse than the industry average) or rewards it (if its loss experience is better than the industry average). Experience modifications create a powerful incentive for employers to prevent claims and control claims costs.
How is it Currently Calculated?
The experience modification rating process uses what is known as a split point of $7,000. An insured’s actual losses below $7,000 are considered primary and go into the formula at full value. Losses above the split point (to a maximum of $175,000) are considered excess losses and have less weight in the formula. Dividing losses into primary and excess components gives greater weight to loss frequency, which is typically more controllable by the employer, than to loss severity, which is typically caused by less predictable catastrophic claims. The current formula, in effect since 2010, is a one-size-fits-all approach for all employers regardless of company size.
How will it be Calculated Starting January 1, 2017?
WCIRB found that the pattern of claim frequency and severity in California has changed over time, and the single $7,000 fixed split point was “no longer producing optimal results.” On January 1, 2017 it will be implementing a variable split point methodology where, depending on the size of the employer, there will be 94 different primary loss split points between $7,000 and $75,000. Losses above an insured’s split point will no longer be used in the experience modification calculation. The overall effect of the change will be to give greater weight to claims frequency while claims severity, although still a factor, will be limited at no more than $75,000.
What is the Potential Impact?
The WCIRB states: “While the variable split point plan represents a fundamental change in the values used to calculate experience modifications, there is no expectation that experience modifications for California employers as a whole (emphasis added) will change.” However, each individual insured’s experience modification will be dependent not only on its losses, but also on its size. Under the new formula, insureds whose split points increase above the current $7,000 level will have a greater amount of their losses designated as primary and will be more negatively affected by frequency than severity. This in turn could lead to an increase in their Ex Mod. On the positive side, the $75,000 excess cut off limits the impact of catastrophic losses which should especially benefit smaller employers.