NAPEO19 Annual Conference & Marketplace

September 16-18, 2019

The conference planning committee continually strives to improve the content of the conference and this year will be better than ever!

From an educational point of view, there will be three tracks:

  • PEO Operations: This is new for 2019. Thanks to NAPEO’s Conference Chair Norman Paul, we have designed a new and ongoing focus to help PEOs improve operationally with instructional guidance in the areas of payroll, workflows, and overall efficiency.
  • Compliance: This topic is not only important to PEO customers, but to the liability of PEOs. The landscape and requirements are ever-changing and NAPEO’s staff and committees are staying on top of this to make your lives easier and reduce liability. This track will keep you abreast of the latest changes in the law and how best to navigate them.
  • Growth: Now is a great time to be in the PEO industry. The industry is growing and the market is embracing PEOs and outsourcing HR functions. NAPEO has been hard at work creating tools for our members to increase awareness and drive home the value of PEOs. In addition, your industry colleagues will be sharing their best practices about what works for them to grow their PEO’s.

Look forward to seeing everyone there! Check out the below link for more details on this years Conference.

https://www.napeo.org/annual-conference-2019

Applied Underwriters Fined $3 Million Over EquityComp Program

 

The State regulators continue to clamp down on insurers that use side agreements (aka Program Agreements) for large deductible/loss sensitive programs that are not properly filed with the various Offices of Insurance Regulation. Florida, New York and California have been particularly active in this realm, with Illinois specifically writing a white paper on the overall large deductible topic and PEO that I spoke on a few years ago … https://peocompass.com/role-large-deductible-policies-peos-failures-small-workers-compensation-insurers/ .

Additionally, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”) has been very active in the enforcement of side agreements… “One significant forms-related issue is that there are sometimes agreements outside of the insurance contract–that is, they are not specifically referenced within or attached to the insurance contract— established between the insurer, the employer and perhaps a TPA or another party. This is an issue because insurance laws typically require the filing of the policy forms and accompanying endorsements used to write workers’ compensation insurance.” This definition from their white paper “Workers’ Compensation Large Deductible Study”, first published in 2006. https://www.naic.org/prod_serv/WCD-OP-06.pdf

Bottom line is that there is a marked increase of enforcement on the state level of non-approved side agreements and I would anticipate more carriers being called out for their lack of proper filings and having approval to use the side agreements applicable to their large deductible/loss sensitive offering(s).

From our friends at workcompcentral.com …

The New York State Department of Financial Services has fined Applied Underwriters $3 million for offering workers’ compensation insurance bundled with side agreements that weren’t filed with or approved by the department.

In announcing the fine on Thursday, DFS said the bundled programs were sold under names including EquityComp and SolutionOne. The products, sold in New York from 2010 through 2016, included guaranteed-cost workers’ comp policies issued by Continental Indemnity Co., an Applied subsidiary, along with a “reinsurance participation agreement” that employers were required to enter into as part of the program, according to the department.

DFS said the RPAs involved complex cost calculations that were presented to employers in a misleading way. 

“Under the formula, policy fees could rise rapidly with the first few claims to levels substantially higher than what would have been paid under a typical linear retrospective model,” DFS said.

In fact, the non-linear model was unique enough that Applied received a patent for it in 2011, according to DFS.

Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell said Applied Underwriters had been “illegally operating outside of the department’s oversight to sell a complex product to hundreds of New York small and medium-sized businesses.”

Applied Underwriters on Thursday said it was pleased to have reached a settlement with DFS after the matter had been under review for three years.

But Jeffrey Silver, general counsel for Applied Underwriters, denied any wrongdoing by the company.

“There was no wrongdoing on our part whatsoever, but there were filings that the department thought should have been made,” Silver said in a statement provided to WorkCompCentral. “The nature and structure of the program was disclosed to participants who were large employers, and the participants were advised by their insurance brokers and other professionals.”

In the statement, Silver described Applied’s loss-sensitive program as a captive insurance program, which he said is covered in New York by a separate captive insurer law. The program gave businesses an incentive to improve their safety, he said, and a “significant number” of EquityComp participants did expand their safety programs, leading to lower workers’ comp costs.

The New York DFS launched its investigation of Applied Underwriters in December 2015. The company voluntarily stopped offering the side-agreement program in New York after the probe started. Under a DFS consent order, Applied won’t offer any equivalent side agreements and will file any future products with the department for approval. In addition, Applied won’t enforce any arbitration provisions in contracts with New York employers.

The fine comes as a sale of Applied Underwriters, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, is pending. The agreement with DFS removes a possible obstacle to approval of the sale by the state of New York, Applied said through a spokesman.

The New York Post reported last month that the Applied Underwriters buyer was Bahamas-based United Insurance Co., which planned to acquire Berkshire’s 81% stake in the company, along with shares of the company owned by two executives. The Post cited a filing with the California Department of Insurance as the source of its information.

The Applied Underwriters spokesman said on Thursday that the Post’s report was inaccurate and incomplete, but he declined to provide information on the buyer.

A quarterly filing provided by CDI stated that Berkshire Hathaway entered into a stock purchase agreement this year with United Insurance Co. to sell its 81% interest in AU Holding Co., the parent company of Applied Underwriters, and that United had also agreed to acquire Sidney Ferenc’s 7.5% interest in AUH. The stock purchase agreements were assigned to Steven Menzies, who owns 11.5% of the company, according to the filing.

Berkshire Hathaway confirmed in February that it was selling Applied Underwriters, saying at the time that part of the reason for the sale is that AU competes with other workers’ comp insurance companies that Berkshire Hathaway fully owns. A spokesman wouldn’t comment at the time on whether controversy over Applied’s EquityComp program contributed to the decision.

Regulators in New Jersey have also been investigating Applied Underwriters, the New York Business Journal reported. Regulators allege that the company “marketed and sold an unapproved workers’ compensation program with impermissible retrospective rating,” according to a New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance filing.

Applied Underwriters declined to comment Thursday on whether states other than New York were investigating its EquityComp program, or to say in which states the company still offers the program.

The Applied Underwriters website continues to list EquityComp as one of its programs, “designed for companies with premiums in excess of $250,000 that seek flexible risk financing.”

The 72’nd Annual Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference – Orlando

Another year and another convergence of the who’s who in the field of workers’ compensation at the Marriott World Center in Orlando this week.  Known as the largest insurance conference in the country, the Workers’ Compensation Institute brings together “centers of influence” in law, medicine, claims adjusting, underwriting, brokerage, risk-bearing, managed care, regulation, legislation, staffing and of course coemployment.

Dating back over a decade, the Workers’ Compensation Institute and specifically Jim McConnaughhay and Steve Rissman have granted the PEO community a one day educational track.  Shortly thereafter, FAPEO and NAPEO threw their influence and sponsorship behind it.  Special thanks to the WCI, FAPEO and NAPEO for making this a success and bringing positive exposure to the PEO industry.

I am proud to participate on a panel Tuesday morning at 9:00 am with Andy Olwert (Next Level), Deb Hetzer (PEMCO), Phil Herron (Continuum HR) and Robert Barrett (Rissman, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue, McLain & Manganese’s, PA) titled “Accountability in the PEO Industry – Posting Wins for PEO’s and Their Claims Teams”.  More information on this data-driven session can be found on the WCI 360 site here:

http://www.wci360.com/conference/professional-employer-organization-breakout

Hope to see you Thursday morning and look forward to catching up with lots of old friends!

2016 Workers’ Compensation Combined Ratio is a 94 per NCCI

It has been a busy month of conventions… NAPEO Legal and Legislative, RIMS and last week the NCCI.  On the ground at the PACE conference in New Orleans, a look back at the NCCI AIS.

The National Council of Compensation Insurance (“NCCI”) Annual Issues Symposium is the preeminent conference for understanding all things workers’ compensation.  Industry experts in the carrier, reinsurance and brokerage communities converge in Orlando every year in May to better understand the meaningful trends in the workers’ compensation line of insurance. The most meaningful number of this year’s event was 94… the lowest combined ratio of any other year since 1990 with the exception of 2006 (93).  It should also be noted that this is a 6 point drop from the 100 of last year and represents one of few years <100.

Based on typical patterns, this is now where capital enters the market… which was illuminated when the NCCI literally sold out of tickets.

With NAPEO’s Legal and Legislative Conference two weeks ago, the NCCI conference last week and PACE in New Orleans this week… it has been a high school reunion of sort – seeing good friends, telling old stories and commiserating on how to make the PEO industry the optimal platform for American business.  Health insurance maybe in the news every day but workers’ compensation is the line of business that PEO’s must have.

The origination of the PEO Compass was to provide an executive summary of all things workers’ compensation and how they impact all things PEO.  The NCCI is a huge driver of this nationwide and sets rates and rules in 37 states.  The document attached is a must read for those like me that are workers’ compensation and data geeks.

https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Documents/II_AIS2017-SOL-Guide.pdf

For those that are not (or would prefer not going through 57 slides), the highlights below:

  • The total P/C industry’s 2016 combined ratio (101%) represents a three-point increase versus that for 2015.
  • Combined ratios increased in all lines of business except workers compensation (slide 4)
  • Premium for the NCCI-serviced Residual Market Pools has remained stable over the last four policy years, at approximately $1.1 billion. (slide 12)
  • Between 2015 and 2016, countrywide private carrier direct written premium grew +2.4% (slide 15)
  • The percentage change in payroll (+4.5%) is approximately equal to the percentage change in the average wage (+2.5%) plus the percentage change in employment (+1.9%).  Employment grew at an above-average rate for the Professional and Business Services; Education and Health Services; Construction; and Leisure and Hospitality sectors.  Employment in the Manufacturing sector was flat, while the All Other sector posted a decrease primarily due to declines in Natural Resources and Mining employment (slide 17)
  • NCCI workers’ compensation filings with effective dates in 2017 averaged –6.7%… California and New York are already seeking approval for rate decreases which are not even part of this data set (slide 18)
  • In 2013, more than 70% of respondents saw an increase in premium at renewal, but by the fourth quarter of 2016, 62% reported seeing a decrease in premium at renewal (slide 23)
  • The workers compensation 2016 calendar year combined ratio for private carriers was 94%. This is the second consecutive year that the industry has posted a six-point underwriting gain. Consecutive combined ratios at this level have not been seen in at least the last 30 years (slide 24)

What this means is that workers’ compensation has become a very sexy line of insurance risk-bearers.  With favorable improvements in operating and investment performance, the median expected rate of return is +20%.  Again, it is therefore no surprise that this years NCCI AIS conference was sold out months prior to the event.

For those that happen to be in New Orleans this week for the annual PACE conference, let’s meet up and strategize in person about the great opportunities ahead for the industry.

– Paul R. Hughes

c: 321.217.7477

e. phughes@libertateins.com

 

 

New York Workers’ Compensation Rates Expected to Fall 4.5%

Mr. Cuomo has committed to a workers’ compensation “business process reengineering” aimed at increased efficiencies in the overall system.  This from the Insurance Journal today.

At the same time, improvements in medical delivery is also part of the budget in areas such as:

  • Expanding the safety net for seriously injured workers, so more are eligible to apply for reconsideration for lifetime benefits when their benefit caps are set to expire.
  • Ensuring injured workers who are out-of-work and not receiving benefits will get a hearing within 45 days.
  • Providing relief for first responders exposed to extraordinary stress in emergency situations.
  • Strengthening the administrative tools available to the Board in its efforts to provide swift and appropriate delivery of benefits to injured workers.

If the recommendation from the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board is approved (which is likely), the new rates will take effect on 10.1.17.

  • Paul R. Hughes

New York Board Proposes 4.5% Workers’ Compensation Rate Decrease

New York businesses could soon see some slight relief in workers’ compensation premiums, according to an announcement from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The governor’s office released a statement Monday saying that the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board, a non-governmental rate service organization, has submitted an overall workers’ compensation rate decrease of approximately 4.5 percent for rates beginning Oct. 1, 2017. If approved, the premium decrease equates to a savings New York employers about $400 million this year in workers’ compensation premiums.

In its rate filing, CIRB attributed the reduction in premium rates to certain cost savings measures passed as part of the 2018 budget and general system savings spearheaded by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, according to the governor’s statement.

“The reforms to the Workers’ Compensation system in this year’s budget will help New York businesses cut costs – enabling them to further reinvest, grow and create more jobs across the state,” Cuomo said. “With this rate decrease, New York is providing real savings to businesses helping to make them more competitive while strengthening protections for injured workers at companies across the state.”

The rate submission must still be reviewed and approved by the Department of Financial Services. If approved it would become effective October 1, 2017.

New York Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said workers’ compensation reforms were part of the budget negotiations earlier this year.

Workers’ compensation premium rates are determined on an annual basis and take into account recent claims experience as well as implementation of any new policies and procedures. The 2018 New York Budget specifically addresses cost by applying limits to temporary disability payments prior to a permanency award, while providing an exemption process for the most seriously injured.

“Governor Cuomo and the Legislature have successfully managed to rebalance the workers’ compensation system to provide better protections for injured workers and provide much needed relief to New York’s businesses,” said Kenneth J. Munnelly, chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

The budget also includes better protections for injured workers by:

  • Expanding the safety net for seriously injured workers, so more are eligible to apply for reconsideration for lifetime benefits when their benefit caps are set to expire.
  • Ensuring injured workers who are out-of-work and not receiving benefits will get a hearing within 45 days.
  • Providing relief for first responders exposed to extraordinary stress in emergency situations.
  • Strengthening the administrative tools available to the Board in its efforts to provide swift and appropriate delivery of benefits to injured workers.

The budget requires the Workers’ Compensation Board to publicize new permanent impairment guidelines to reflect advances in modern medicine that result in better outcomes. Additionally, to ensure that injured workers receive high quality, cost effective medications, the board will establish a prescription drug formulary.

According to the governor’s office, the reforms build on his continued commitment to improve New York’s workers’ compensation system to more effectively serve the needs of injured workers and employers.

Signed by the Cuomo as part of the 2013-14 budget, the Business Relief Act provided hundreds of millions in savings for New York businesses by fundamentally restructuring the way that workers’ compensation assessments were made.

Cuomo also launched a comprehensive “business process re-engineering” to re-imagine the workers’ compensation system. As part of that effort, the Workers’ Compensation Board is close to launching virtual hearings, which will modernize and virtualize the Board’s present hearing environment and allow injured workers to participate in a hearing at a location that is most convenient for them, even their home, the statement said.

In addition, the Workers’ Compensation Board has developed new processes to ensure benefits are delivered more timely by utilizing alternative means to resolve disputes. This allows the board to preserve hearing time for more complex cases with legal disputes. The board has also generated a dramatic decline in inventory of pending workers’ compensation appeals and the length of time it takes for those appeals to be resolved. The prompt processing of appealed claims aids both workers and employers, by making benefits and treatments available more quickly and lowers litigation costs.

Source: New York Office of the Governor

Florida Workers’ Compensation Rates Get No Legislative Relief

There will be a certain increase in Florida workers’ compensation rates this coming year as the Florida legislature failed to pass anything to address the Castellanos and Westphal cases that lead to a 14.5% rate increase on 12.1.16.  The 14.5% was at the low end of the range that NCCI used in recommending n increase.

  •  Paul R. Hughes

Florida Fails to Pass Workers’ Compensation Reform

Florida businesses shouldn’t expect relief for workers’ compensation rates, this year at least. The Florida Legislature failed to pass legislation this session addressing 2016 decisions by the Florida Supreme Court that sent the state’s workers’ comp system into disarray and led to a rate increase of 14.5 percent.

After much back and forth between the House and Senate over their respective bills, it came down to attorney fees, which the industry says are to blame for the majority of the rate increase.

Lawmakers sought to reform the state’s workers’ comp system through two bills – House Bill 7085 and Senate Bill 1582 – in response to decisions by the Florida Supreme Court that found aspects of the Florida Workers’ Comp Act unconstitutional.

[Lawmakers also failed to pass other closely-watched insurance reforms addressing insurance claims (assignment of benefits) abuse. Read more on the failed AOB legislation.]

Debate over the Senate and House bill went on throughout the final legislative day on Friday with the House, in an attempt to lure the Senate to its side, passing an amendment capping attorney fees at $180 an hour on approval by a judge of compensation claims. The Senate version of the bill capped attorney fees at $250 an hour versus the House’s previous $150 an hour cap. On Friday, the Senate voted not to lower the cap in its bill to $200 an hour, but the House still tried later to compromise with the $180 cap.

Another key difference in the Senate version was a provision moving Florida to a loss-cost system. Rep. Danny Burgess, who sponsored the House bill, told House members “the jury’s still out” on whether a loss cost system leads to a premium reduction, based on data from states that had switched to this model.

Burgess said he hoped the Senate would agree to the attorney fee compromise so lawmakers could get “something across the finish line.”

“The bill, as it stands today is on the end of the rope,” he told House members Friday. “[We are] trying to provide substantial reform to address rising rates from recent court decisions…We have to solve this problem before us. Every small business in the state of Florida is watching us now.”

The Florida Supreme Court’s decisions that caused the upheaval came in two cases – Castellanos v. Next Door Company and Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg. The biggest cost driver behind the 14.5 percent rate increase, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), was Castellanos. That decision found the state’s mandatory attorneys’ fee schedule for workers’ compensation cases eliminated the right of a claimant to get a reasonable attorney’s fee — a “critical feature” of the workers’ compensation law. The impact of the Castellanos decision equaled 10.1 percent of the 14.5 rate increase, while Westphal accounted for 2.2 percent.

Burgess said the House version could offer up to a 5 percent reduction in rates and the Senate’s version would offer only about a 1 percent reduction.

The insurance industry supported the House version, agreeing that attorney fees are the main cost driver behind rate increases. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) said the bill would have addressed “decisions by the Florida Supreme Court rulings that could cause workers compensation rates to increase by 14.5 percent in the state, costing Florida job creators more than $1.5 billion.”

But ultimately, the two branches couldn’t reach an agreement before time ran out for lawmakers on Friday night.

Florida businesses now have the rate increase to contend with and the possibility of additional rate increases next year. An actuary from NCCI told the Florida House at a hearing last month that it is reasonable to expect that there would be continued pressure on rates without legislative reform.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce called lawmakers’ failure to enact reform a “failed fix to Florida’s broken workers’ comp system” and said it was a missed opportunity by lawmakers to make Florida more competitive.

California Workers’ Compensation Rates About to Drop in July

Last Thursday, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (“WCIRB”) testified before the California Department of Insurance that a 16.5% rate reduction was appropriate for the businesses of California effective 7/1/17.  California is a state where rates do not follow anniversary rating dates (“ARD’s) and therefore the impact of this reduction will be immediate for those that shop.

“WCIRB Executive Vice President and Chief Actuary Dave Bellusci and with President and CEO Bill Mudge presented the actuarial basis for the WCIRB’s average proposed July 1 advisory pure premium rate of $2.02, which is 16.5 percent lower than the corresponding industry average filed pure premium rate of $2.42 as of Jan. 1 2017 and 7.8 percent less than the insurance commissioner’s approved average Jan. 1 advisory pure premium rate of $2.19.”

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2017/05/04/450074.htm

A fertile market for aggressive carriers.

The California Department still has to approve, but that is anticipated in the next 30 days with the effective date of the proposed reduction less than 60 days from today.

While this is a sharp reduction, California still has and will have the highest workers’ compensation rates in the country by far and the State represents approximately 1/3 ‘rd of all workers’ compensation insurance premiums countrywide.  A fertile market for aggressive carriers.  For more info on national State rates and how they compare before credits/dividends and deductibles, review the following link…

http://www.cbs.state.or.us/external/dir/wc_cost/files/report_summary.pdf

-Paul R. Hughes