Congratulations to Amtrust!

We are excited to report that Mr. Zyskind and company have successfully executed their effort to privatize Amtrust.  We appreciate their ongoing support of the PEO industry and wish them the very best of luck in this new chapter of their history….

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AmTrust completes transaction to become a private company  

Dear Agent Partner,

We are pleased to announce the completion today of AmTrust Financial’s go private transaction as anticipated following all necessary regulatory approvals. The transaction, approved by a majority of AmTrust’s shareholders in June 2018, values the fully diluted equity of the Company at approximately $2.95 billion, excluding the Company’s outstanding preferred stock.*

Thanks to the initiatives we undertook over the last two years, AmTrust has established the strongest capital base in our 20-year history, with total assets of $25.76 billion and $3.6 billion in equity. Our A.M. Best “A-” (Excellent) rating with a Stable outlook and strong capital base have AmTrust well positioned to provide you and your policyholders support now, and in the future. AmTrust as a private company will continue to focus on the principles that have guided our growth over the past 20 years – servicing and supporting our agent partners and providing optimal value to our insureds.

AmTrust is here to service your clients and help you grow your business for the long term.  

We greatly value your partnership and we look forward to continuing to provide outstanding service to you and your clients moving forward as a private company.

Sincerely,
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Barry D. Zyskind
Chairman, President and CEO
AmTrust Financial Services, Inc.


*The merger transaction involved Evergreen Parent, L.P., an entity formed by private equity funds managed by Stone Point Capital LLC (“Stone Point”), together with Barry Zyskind, Chairman and CEO of AmTrust, George Karfunkel and Leah Karfunkel (collectively, the “Karfunkel-Zyskind Family”), has acquired the approximately 45% of the Company’s issued and outstanding common shares that the Karfunkel-Zyskind Family and certain of its affiliates and related parties did not already own or control.

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New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Rates to Go Down 5.3% on 1/1

From our friends at the workcompcentral.com…

Insurance Commission Approves Rate Decrease of 5.3%

The New Jersey commissioner of banking and insurance has approved an overall 5.3% decrease in workers’ compensation rates, effective Jan. 1.

The reduction is the third straight annual decrease, and will likely be seen as good news by employers. New Jersey has consistently ranked as one of the most expensive for workers’ compensation insurance, according to the 2018 Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services’ premium ranking report, which came out in October.

The New Jersey Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau said in a circular this week that the 2019 decrease is based on experience and the trend toward fewer claims, although an increase in maximum weekly benefits will increase costs slightly.

The manufacturing sector will see the biggest decline, with an average rate decrease of 8%, the bureau said. Office and clerical will see a 7.5% drop, followed by maritime and rail workers, at 5.5%

There will be no change to catastrophe provisions, but the minimum premium multiplier will increase, from 170 to 180.

“The change to premium resulting from the new minimum premium multiplier is minimal and does not impact the overall rate level,” the circular noted.

The E-merging Risk that Keeps on E-volving: Cyber

As providers of service and insurance to PEO’s, small and medium-sized businesses are the “bread and butter” of clients targeted.

“According to an ISO analysis, 80 percent of cyber breach victims in 2017 were small and medium-sized businesses.” — Neil Spector, president, ISO, a Verisk business

Great article on the current state of cyber from our friends at insurancejournal.com

The E-merging Risk that Keeps on E-volving: Cyber

    6 Reasons Cyber Remains Top Emerging Risk

    Property/casualty insurance experts may not agree on everything but there is a consensus that the most important emerging risk for the industry remains the five-letter word: CYBER. It is not new, of course, but it stays atop emerging risk lists because of its dynamic and pervasive nature.

    Insurance Journal defines emerging risks as those that are new and not yet widely recognized, or perhaps recognized but not well understood. A number of industry leaders explain why cyber remains such an important risk to watch.

    Not Slowing Down

    The number of data breaches and the average costs of cyber-crime are rising every year. These trends show no signs of slowing down. In fact, cyber risk is becoming more concerning as crime-as-a-service gains popularity and artificial intelligence technologies are used more frequently in attacks. Internet of Thing devices are increasing the attack surface and providing more ammo for hackers. One of the more difficult aspects about insuring cyber risk is the dynamic nature of the risk. Just a few years ago, cyber-attacks primarily involved stealing private credit card and health information from large companies. Today, cyber criminals focus on completely different tactics for making money, such as locking out users from computer systems using ransomware, or secretly hijacking computers to mine cryptocurrency. And large corporations aren’t the only targets. According to an ISO analysis, 80 percent of cyber breach victims in 2017 were small and medium-sized businesses. — Neil Spector, president, ISO, a Verisk business

    Keeping Up with IoT

    The biggest risks involve cyber crime. Under “emerging risks,” one of the biggest is the Internet of Things (IoT), and the cybersecurity risks created by billions of interconnected devices. The challenges for agents and brokers multiply in regard to understanding the potential implications, such as IoT devices in homes and businesses — tracking sensors, fire/flooding/intrusion warning devices and more. Agents need to be aware of the questions to ask clients to ensure they are offering complete coverages. They need to be vigilant in keeping up with the IoT devices emerging at an astonishing pace. — Robert Rusbuldt, CEO, Big “I” Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.

    High Severity

    There are many scenarios where cyber risk comes into play, but one example is related to vehicle systems. Luxury automobiles, for example, have up to 150 or more computer programs that impact vehicle performance. Tractor trailer technology is also advancing rapidly, and just one of those systems being hacked could have catastrophic results. WSIA conducts a biennial survey of members regarding emerging issues. Cyber exposure jumped in priority this year, with members agreeing the issue has high severity in terms of current impact industrywide. — Jacqueline Schaendorf, president and CEO, Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association

    Cyber Property Damage

    One definite area of emerging peril is the threat of substantial property destruction caused by intrusions into sensitive computer networks and connected hardware devices. Long gone are the days where the worst aspect of cyber vulnerabilities amounted to stolen credit card information or lost privacy. Instead, a new breed of cyber exposure is unfolding whereby energy infrastructure facilities and other industrial works have been targeted with cyber attacks causing explosions, wreckage and business interruption. Most expect these risks will soon expand to domestic infrastructure and transportation operations with the prospect of major instances of property damage and life-threatening injuries.

    — Joshua Gold, shareholder attorney, Anderson Kill

    Immature Market

    Cyber comes with a bit of a double-edge sword. On one hand, it is a new market that is growing faster than any other for the industry. But being an immature market means more time is needed to flesh out the data to improve underwriting. Where cyber may be a more interesting market — perhaps even one that helps us peer into the future value of insurance — is how risk mitigation tools are being incorporated into the mix. We are seeing many carriers partner with technology companies in order to assess the actual vulnerabilities within the customers. This presents more stability for underwriting. Customers’ value may evolve in the future toward risk mitigation and resilience building. This would be a shift for an industry that — at least for the past several decades — has based its value on price. — Sean Kevelighan, president and CEO, Insurance Information Institute

    Accumulation Risks

    In a study titled “Advancing Accumulation Risk Management in Cyber Insurance,” global insurance think tank The Geneva Association focused on the danger of accumulation risks as a threat to cyber insurance. The report highlights several cyber accumulation risk challenges:

    • Insurers and reinsurers could underestimate non-affirmative cyber exposure leading to an unplanned shock from a major event. Non-affirmative cyber exposure occurs when a cyber attack causes major losses by triggering coverages in other classes.
    • Data are of insufficient quality, are incomplete and/or lack the necessary consistency for more advanced modeling techniques.
    • Governments predominantly fail to provide frameworks for the sharing of large- scale cyber-terrorism-losses.

    – Anna Maria D’Hulster, secretary general, The Geneva Association

    MMC Poised to Become Reinsurance Goliath

    In the move to buy Jardines Lloyds Thompson Group (JLT), MMC (Marsh) is poised to be the biggest global reinsurance intermediary by 40% over Aon.  Both groups have been active in PEO placements and it will be interesting to see the new combined vision.

    MMC (re)insurance business to be 40 percent bigger than rival Aon

    By

    MMC’s $5.6bn acquisition of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) will cement the group’s position as the industry’s largest global broker based on (re)insurance revenues and will also create a 40 percent top line differential based on 2017 results.

    Last year, MMC’s risk and insurance services division posted revenues of $7630mn vs Aon’s total (re)insurance revenues of $6378mn.

    However, JLT’s risk and insurance division posted revenues of £1065.8mn in 2017, the equivalent of $1396mn at today’s exchange rate of £1:$1.31.

    MMC-JLT-top-line-40%-higher

    On pro-forma terms, this would make the combined group’s top line based on 2017 (re)insurance revenues as high as $9026mn; a significant milestone from Aon’s $6378mn, or 40 percent higher.

    Earlier today, re-Insurance revealed that a combined Guy Carp-JLT Re will become the largest reinsurance intermediary, overtaking Aon’s reinsurance arm, Aon Reinsurance Solutions Business.

    Aon’s reinsurance arm posted revenues of $1.43bn while a combined Guy Carp-JLT Re will have marginally higher revenues of $1.47bn based on 2017 reported numbers.

    While there will inevitably be some fall-out from such a significant M&A, the gap will be the largest between the two firms for over thirty years when they both led a major consolidation drive in the 1990s (see table).

    It is also the largest ever acquisition undertaken among (re)insurance intermediaries trumping the $2bn Marsh paid to acquire another UK broking heavyweight, Sedgewick, in 1998 and the $2.1bn that Willis paid in 2008 for US retailer Hilb, Rogal & Hobbs.

    Marsh’s focus on building out its US mid-market business in recent years has seen the group regain its number one position after a few years of revenue pre-eminence by Aon followings its 2008 £844mn acquisition of reinsurance intermediary Benfield and also the particular privations endured by MMC at the hands of the near-obsessed former NY attorney-general Eliot Spitzer in 2004-05.

    Below is a history of major broking M&A between US and UK broking firms. The big, once again, are set to get bigger.

    RiskMD is Granted a Patent

    A System and Method for Valuation, Acquisition and Management of Insurance Policies

    ORLANDO, September 12, 2018 / — RiskMD is granted a patent for “System and Method for Valuation, Acquisition and Management of Insurance Policies”. The patent focuses on acquiring, valuing and managing workers’ compensation client company exposures regardless of the insurance policy structure. This is the first Professional Employer Organization (“PEO”) specific patent ever issued.Since its inception in 2005, RiskMD has been focused on understanding the diagnostics of the prospective or current coemployed client companies of a Professional Employer Organization (“PEO”) within the overall portfolio of client companies of that PEO.  In order to understand what client companies fit the given portfolio and at what price, we partnered with Appulate to efficiently acquire client data to then apply a proprietary predictive model called “The Barnstable Vintage” to value and thereby price the client company in question.  The vision was “Geico meets workers’ compensation”; acquisition, underwriting, valuation and pricing of a client company based on a pure computer feed with underwriter input only on an exception basis as is shown in exhibit 1 of the patent:

    While there will always be a place for underwriters and underwriting, the consistency of process in acquiring and valuing business is intended to focus the underwriter on the “art” versus “science” of underwriting.  How long in business?  Good neighborhood?  Does the owner throw birthday parties for their staff? This is the art and the mathematical formulas behind the predictive models built provide the science.

    In an effort to properly manage client companies of a PEO regardless of policy structure, the last piece was to understand and then to build a process revolving around a key identifier; the client company Federal Employer Identification Number (“FEIN”).  Cathy Doss, the first Chief Data Officer for Capital One and current Data Officer for Fannie Mae, architected a similar process at Capital One with the Social Security Number as the key identifier and created a similar process for RiskMD.  The combination of these processes are what provides the foundation for this patent and the vision of RiskMD.  The end result is the ability to spin data amongst the three main data pools of a PEO; policy/application data, claims data and payroll/premium data.  Using Tableau as a visualization tool behind the SQL built mathematical formulas, the end presentations look like the below.

    Unlocking PEO client data to make more informed decisions is foremost in understanding how to acquire, value and properly manage insurance policies and the client companies that they insure.  We are passionate about proving out the value and performance of the PEO industry and know that this now patented process will help immensely to that end.  We appreciate all of our clients and carriers support on this effort over the last five years and look forward to further deployment of this tool to the betterment of each party and the industry as a whole.

    “The vision of RiskMD was to make data-driven decisions in pricing and managing PEO client companies regardless of policy structure”, said Mr. Hughes.  “Too much time was being spent diagnosing issues and not enough in treating them.  While our now patented process has been in place for years, it is very satisfying to be recognized by the United States Patent Office for the invention”.

    PEO Super Bowl 2018 – NAPEO

    The industry Super Bowl has started in Phoenix, NAPEO 2018!

    Right off an awesome WCI 360 in Orlando wci360.com, where the PEO industry was once again given a full day of programming in the largest insurance industry conference countrywide, Phoenix Is now the destination for all things PEO’s from today until Friday.  I am sure Mr. Cleary and team have their game faces on and will throw an awesome event as always.  Beautiful facility to start for sure.

    Personally, I am celebrating my 18’th NAPEO and look forward to seeing all of my old friends that also have dedicated their respective careers to PEO.  Can’t wait to rock it out again with you, starting for some of us at the NAPEO Political Action Committee dinner this evening.

    Florida Workers’ Compensation Rates Plummet Again

    From our friends at workcompcentral.com…

    NCCI Recommends 13.4% Rate Reduction

    Two years after insurers and business groups warned of dire consequences from landmark Florida Supreme Court decisions on attorneys’ fees and benefit levels, workers’ compensation rates could soon drop to their lowest level in years.

    Bill Herrle

    The National Council on Compensation Insurance announced Monday afternoon that it is recommending a 13.4% decrease in rates for Florida, the second straight year that the rating organization has recommended a reduction in the state.

    The cut comes two years after a 14.5% rate increase on the heels of Castellanos v. Next Door Co., which struck down statutory limits on attorneys’ fees, and Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, which held that a 104-week cap on temporary disability benefits was unconstitutional.

    If approved by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, the latest reduction will mean that workers’ compensation rates for next year will be about 10% lower than they were before the Castellanos and Westphal decisions. That’s roughly what the rates were before the 2003 reform package passed by the Florida Legislature that limited legal fees and benefits duration.

    A small-business group predicted that Monday’s filing will spark economic growth.

    “The small-business economy in Florida is hot, and it’s going to get a lot hotter as a result of today’s great news from NCCI,” said Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida. “Lower workers’ comp rates equal a direct reduction in small-business owners’ expenses, which means big things for growth.”

    A claimants’ attorney said the filing simply puts rates back to their correct level, and that the court rulings have had a much smaller impact that insurers had feared.

    “Attorneys’ fees are a product of how well an insurance adjuster handles claims,” said Mark Zientz, a Miami attorney who filed an amicus brief in the Castellanos case. “If they’re handled correctly, there’s no need for high attorney fees.”

    The rate reduction shows that insurance carriers since Castellanos have been more careful with claims, which helps them avoid expensive litigation, he said.

    The size of the recommended rate reduction was not surprising, Zientz said, because “from 2003 to 2015, rates were inflated for no good reason.”

    An explanation of the filing from the NCCI notes that the rate reflects fewer losses by insurers, which is largely the result of a long-term and nationwide decline in the number of claims filed by injured workers.

    Some claimants’ attorneys have said the drop in claims reflects a greater emphasis on workplace safety; shows that because of reduced benefit levels in some states, some workers don’t bother with filing claim; and shows that a growing number of U.S. workers are now considered independent contractors, not employees who receive benefits.

    The NCCI did not dismiss the court rulings altogether but said that full impact of the two cases will not be known for years to come. So far, though, “the favorable loss experience in policy years 2015 and 2016 has more than offset the combined cost increases that have emerged from those court decisions.”

    The NCCI obtained data from the state’s largest workers’ compensation carriers, and the data is consistent with NCCI’s initial assessment of how Castellanos would impact the Florida marketplace, the organization said. Most carriers reported some amount of claim cost increases, but many insurers were not materially affected.

    The ratio of claimant attorney fees to benefit settlement amounts has climbed, from 13% in 2014 to 22% through June of this year, the NCCI filing said, quoting data from the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.

    Indeed, last week at the Workers’ Compensation Institute’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida’s Deputy Chief Compensation Judge David Langham presented data that showed the impact of Castellanos may be felt for a number of years.

    Although the number of petitions filed in compensation claims has remained relatively flat for the past decade, claimants’ attorneys’ fees climbed 36% in fiscal 2016-2017, the year after the court ruling, Langham said at the conference. In 2017-2018, claimants’ attorneys’ fees increased another 7%.

    Despite that, paid loss ratios have dropped significantly since 2010, most sharply since 2015, the NCCI filing data shows.

    “The primary driver behind the recommended rate decrease is the long-term decline in claim frequency offsetting increases in claim severity, and cost increases from the Castellanos and Westphal court cases,” the filing’s explanatory memo reads. “Policy year 2017 will be the first full policy year post-Castellanos, but the full effects of that court decision will not materialize for several years to come.”

    Also at the WCI conference last week, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier predicted that the expected NCCI rate recommendation would be the determining factor on whether legislation would be introduced next spring to address attorneys’ fees. On Monday, Altmaier’s office did not comment on the filing before the close of business.

    If recent history is a guide, the lower rates may mean that a further attempt to cap attorneys’ fees will be all but forgotten in the 2019 legislative session. A 9.5% rate reduction earlier this year surprised many and took some steam out of employers’ demands for new limits on fees.

    Herrle’s statement Monday did not mention the cost of lawyers.

    “Small-business owners are reporting record high levels of optimism, according to NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index, and news like lower workers’ comp rates fuels their confidence,” Herrle said. “Small-business owners are in the driver’s seat, and Florida’s economy can look forward to the results — increased job growth, increased wages, and unprecedented expansion overall for the small-business sector.”

    The 2018 Workers’ Compensation Institute 360

    #wci360

    The 2018 WCI 360 is up and running in Orlando!  Every year Co-Chairmen Mr. Rissman and Mr. McConnaughhay bring this annual event to another level.  The educational programming, entertainment and ability to catch up with a multitude of people all in one place make this a can’t miss event.

    The Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI) is a nonprofit educational organization that serves as a comprehensive resource to all workers’ compensation stakeholders. The WCI is an outgrowth of the long-established Florida Workers’ Compensation Institute. FWCI remains in existence under the WCI umbrella and continues its Florida focus, while the national organization provides a broader outreach across all states.

    I am honored to be able to moderate a session during the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (“FAIA”) this coming Tuesday the 21’st.

    Integrating Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) And The Independent Agency System

    Tuesday, August 21’st, 2018
    10:15 – 11:15 am

    Crystal Ballroom J1
    Convention Level

    Integrating Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) and The Independent Agency System

    Our panel is comprised of friends and  industry stalwarts Phil Urso (CoAdvantage), Robert Rodriguez (Engage), Troy Reynolds (Stonehenge) and Andy Olwert (NextLevel).

    The scope of our programming is as follows:

    Historically, licensed insurance agents and Professional Employer Organizations have had some success in developing partnerships together and there have been more than a few PEO’s born out of the independent agency model. The agency brings the PEO insurance sophistication and deal flow and the PEO brings the independent agency value-added services such as payroll, human resources and regulatory compliance. It seems like the perfect integration of professional services, potentially in a one-stop arrangement in an integrated manner. There have also been misunderstandings and mistrust of the PEO model. Our panelists will explore the following subjects in detail to include but not limited to:

    – Historic issues with the distribution relationship between independent agents and PEOs
    – Changes in the national regulatory landscape for PEOs and independent agents when transacting co-employment
    – Current definition of a PEO and value propositions
    – Health insurance as a PEO driver and its impact on PEOs
    – What does the future bring for PEOs and how do independent agents fit in?

    Hope to see you at the convention!