A PEO Owner s and Insurance Agent s Workers Compensation Buyers Guide

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1 A PEO Owner s and Insurance Agent s Workers Compensation Buyers Guide 2011 Artex Risk Solutions. All rights reserved.

2 Table of contents About This Guide...2 A PEO and its client: Differentiation that s so simple...3 Carrier ratings matter, don t they?...4 Gauging a carrier s commitment to the PEO Industry...5 Carrier relationships you can grow with...6 How can Artex Risk Solution s PEO program help you?...7 Commonly asked questions...8 Contact Us...9 1

3 About This Guide As a co-employer, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) takes on a statutory role as an employer, and that means workers compensation administration and management becomes one of the single most critical components in the suite of products and services a PEO provides its customers. For nearly 15 years Artex Risk Solutions has been serving the needs of the PEO industry as a Program Administrator for Zurich in North America, one of the largest insurance companies in the world. PEO owners and their insurance agents are altogether too aware of the importance of workers compensation in the co-employment relationship, yet many PEOs and their agents are confounded by the ever-present complexity of PEO workers compensation. Not only does PEO workers compensation bring unique policy issuance and management issues separate from a traditional employer s workers compensation policy, the issue of stable reliable coverage has tested even the best PEOs. To exemplify this point, it bears noting that between 2008 and 2010 at least 3 unrated or under-rated workers compensation carriers supposedly catering to the needs of PEOs were shut down by insurance regulators and deemed insolvent. Additionally, a leading national workers compensation carrier announced they were pulling back from writing new workers compensation policies for Professional Employer Organization and staffing companies. We believe there are answers to these challenges, and as a long term, stable presence in the PEO industry we ll share thoughts in this buyers guide as to how you, the PEO and/or agent, can manage your PEO workers compensation program more effectively. 2

4 A PEO and its client: Differentiation that s so simple with small steps and big results. At the 2010 National Association of Professional Employer Organization (NAPEO) conference, keynote speaker, Peter Sheehan, noted that he found many PEO s websites to be homogeneous in message that too many used the same verbiage about HR solutions and outsourcing, and thus, weren t differentiated from each other. He implored PEO owners to break the cultural paradigm of sameness and me too-ism, to be different, and to truly articulate their value proposition. Ironically, workers compensation submissions put together by well-meaning PEOs and insurance agents often follow a similar pattern of homogeneity, and frankly, don t sell the PEO to the underwriter! Incomplete data, limited qualitative and quantitative information tends to sell short the PEO versus its peer group. Conversely, we find that those PEOs that work with their insurance agent to tell their story, describe their internal risk management acumen, and detail their client operations categorically can end up with the best outcome and the most productive workers compensation programs. We think of it as the PEO triangle. PEO At the pinnacle of triangle is the PEO, its management team, business plan, and its financial wherewithal. These assets should be well described, yet are often neglected. Is the PEO an active member of NAPEO? Perhaps they are on related industry leadership committees, or have achieved ESAC or Workers Compensation Certification accreditation. The middle of the triangle represents how the PEO delivers its services to its client-company customers. This is where the insurance agent and PEO can and should focus on its client selection criteria, its own internal underwriting and risk management processes. These functions can and do set PEOs apart from one and other. Naturally, at the base of the triangle is the foundation of any PEO s business and its workers compensation program its client base! It s here where insurance agents can really help their PEO customers, by helping the PEOs describe in detail what their clients do and what their w/c classification and wage estimates are. Just as Sheehan noted, many PEOs don t take the opportunity to differentiate themselves. The PEO and insurance agent that clearly detail what the PEO s clients do separates that PEO from those that cannot harness that information, or, worse yet, don t realistically know what their clients do! 3

5 Carrier ratings matter, don t they? PEOs are savvy insurance buyers. They understand the critical importance of the relationship they forge with their workers compensation carrier. As a Program Administrator of many alternative risk and complex group insurance programs, we only work with those insurance companies with the highest A.M. Best ratings. We have worked with Zurich for 15 years in the PEO industry. Zurich s financial ratings 1 are among the strongest: AM Best A+ (Superior) FSC of Class XV. As noted earlier in this guide, a number of unrated or under-rated insurance companies have failed, leaving PEOs in the lurch. Choosing a qualified and strategic workers compensation carrier can and should include a detailed understanding of the carrier s A.M. Best, Moody s and Standard and Poor s ratings. Financial ratings by these organizations are designed to inform the insurance buyer of the underlying carrier s financial stability and longer-term outlook, and are available on-line and through most insurance agents. Though market conditions have been soft for the past several years, most industry experts suggest we are at the trough of the soft market cycle, and a flight to quality is occurring in the PEO industry. Your carrier s underlying rating is becoming an increasingly important part of the buying decision. 1 As of November 2010; for information about the ratings of Zurich American Insurance Company, access the ratings section on For more complete financial information about the Zurich Financial Services Group and ratings for Zurich Insurance Company, access 4

6 Gauging a carrier s commitment to the PEO industry Unquestionably, workers compensation is among the largest cost-of-goods-sold items on a PEO s income statement. PEOs understand the critical importance of the business relationship they forge with their workers compensation carrier, and changing carriers year-over-year can be problematic. The importance of the PEO workers compensation carrier s underlying ratings is a critical factor in choosing a carrier, yet there s more to the buying decision than just rating. A commitment to the PEO industry and staying power is also of paramount importance. As PEOs and their agents examine a carrier s commitment to the industry, key questions emerge: 1. Can the carrier provide a list of long term client references? 2. Do you, the agent, or PEO, see yourself aligned with that carrier? 3. Would you consider the other PEOs written by that carrier peer group PEOs, or inferior? 4. How does the carrier s marketing brand awareness connect with the PEO s brand image? Does it exemplify a blue-chip relationship, or otherwise? 5. PEOs have extremely complex workers compensation policy issuance and proof of coverage requirements, and the regulatory climate is increasingly moving in the direction of individual policies at the client level. In part, the administrative burden of handling PEOs has led to many carriers either backing out of the PEO industry and/or completely excluding PEOs. The key questions to ask are twofold: 1) Can the carrier meet the PEO and client company s regulatory needs in the near future? and 2) Does the carrier have a scalable platform to meet the longer-term needs of the PEO? 6. Understanding a carrier s commitment and stability within the PEO space is often rooted in its internal corporate structure. Ask and understand: a. Does top management support the carrier s presence in the PEO space? b. Does the carrier rely on reinsurance to support its PEO underwriting activity, or does the carrier assume the risk net, or - put another way - absorb the risk itself. When a carrier relies (heavily or not) on reinsurance to be in the PEO industry, their long-term presence/commitment may well be at odds with the position taken by the reinsurer. In harder market cycles, we find reinsurers have traditionally pulled back from providing support to PEO workers compensation, thus leaving a dearth of coverage for the unsuspecting PEO. It s worth asking the question! 7. What do the carrier and/or underwriter do to support a legislative/regulatory framework on behalf of PEOs? It s a critical question to ask not only will it suggest how in tune the carrier is with vital workers compensation issues impacting PEOs, but also will indicate their commitment and knowledge of your industry. 5

7 Carrier relationships you can grow with throughout the PEO s lifecycle As PEOs and agents perform due diligence on buying workers compensation, it s important for both parties to think of the transaction as both static in the here-and-now, and dynamic over the longer term. Aligning with a carrier that can provide a variety of policy structures to the PEO through its lifecycle is critical to its success. In conjunction with Zurich, Artex Risk Solutions provides its agents and PEOs a wide spectrum of risk management alternatives from guaranteed cost to various loss sensitive structures, including retrospectively rated plans, large deductibles and captives. The graphic below provides PEOs and their agents a general guidepost of policy structures and strategies one might apply. Again, from a buyer s standpoint, it s important to understand that a carrier can help meet the PEO s needs throughout its evolution. Premium Volume $5,000,000 Introduction of Captive Arrangements $2,500,000 Deductible Buyback and Other Risk Financing $1,000,000 Guaranteed Cost Loss Sensitive Plans (> $250,000 Deductible/Retro) $750,000 $500,000 $250,000 Intermediate Deductibles ($10,000-$75,000) Retrospective Rated Plans Small Deductible Plans ($1,000-$5,000) $100,000 Guaranteed Cost Plans Guaranteed Cost - Full Transfer of Risk $0 Lifecycle Stages Early Stage PEOs Middle Stage PEOs Larger / Institutional PEOs 6

8 How can Artex Risk Solutions PEO program help you? As the leader in PEO workers compensation, Artex has more than 15 years experience in the business supporting insurance agencies and PEOs of all sizes. Our underwriting team has more than 100 years combined experience in the PEO market. We know the business and will share our expertise with you. In 2010, we project issuance of nearly 10,000 multiple coordinated policies, and in 2009 we retained 98 percent of our customers! Our proprietary on-line client management system expedites the underwriting process for the PEO s new clients, shortening approval time by as much as one week, and PEOs have the ability to issue certificates on-line, with an almost immediate turn-around time. Our PEOs love this market responsiveness, and our agents appreciate the scalable leverage our platform provides to meeting the exacting needs of their clients, without the addition of staff on their side of the equation, thereby keeping costs in check. 3 simple benefits of working with Artex on your PEO workers compensation: 1. With a 15-year track record, Artex s PEO program provides our agent and PEO insured the stability, strength and commitment they demand. 2. We provide underwriting and program management services to PEOs of all sizes, ranging from smaller regional PEOs to some of the nation s largest. Within our PEO customer base, we manage nearly 30,000 client companies and locations coast-to-coast for our PEOs. Our PEO-centric, on-line client management platform allows PEOs to transact its workers compensation business with ease, allowing them to meet their client needs in a highly-responsive manner. 3. We know economics counts! Our surveys of long-term PEO clients and their insurance agents consistently show that the Artex program meets their needs from an economic viability standpoint, and exceeds their needs from a day-to-day servicing standpoint. 7

9 Commonly asked questions Q: How long does the typical underwriting of a PEO take? A: With a complete submission, our systems allow us to move through the underwriting process in as little as one week for a typical middle market PEO. Most commonly, we recommend planning on approximately 30 days to go through the underwriting process. Q: Can I just send you the states, codes and payroll for my PEO customer? A: While the wage specifications at the code and state level are commonly used for workers compensation underwriting of single businesses, a PEO is really the amalgamation of many small to medium sized businesses. In many states an individual policy may be required at the client-company level; thus, we absolutely need to have wages broken down by client by state and by code. Finally, from time-to-time a PEO may have a given code or two that are in excluded classes of business. If we are only provided class codes and states and it is not broken down to the client level, then that might lead to an unnecessary declination. On the other hand, if we have the data at the client level we can more readily identify where the challenging classification exists and manage the process from there. Q: What about financial statements what do you require? A: Artex seeks to work with PEOs that will be in the business a long, long time. Therefore, we do require financial statements. The following provides an overview for each of our programs: Middle Market PEO Program Requirements: Artex understands not all companies have audited statements, and many have an accounting firm review and compile their year-end statements. Reviewed and compiled statements will suffice in our middle market program. To the extent neither of the foregoing is available, Artex Cedar Hill requests current year-to-date and preceding 2 year s end income statements, balance sheets, and if available, a statement of cash flows. Large Risk PEO Program Requirements: Qualifying PEOs should have three years of audited financial statements showing strong performance. Q: Is Artex competitively priced in the PEO market? A: Artex has successfully underwritten PEOs for nearly 15 years. We understand the importance of economically viable insurance programs for our PEO customers, and our longevity in the market suggests we are providing competitively-priced coverage along with a highly-responsive PEO-centric on-line service platform. Q: What if my PEO has class codes that are on your excluded list? Does that mean we cannot do business together? A: As noted above, we take a deep look at each PEO to understand not only their risk management capabilities, but also to understand what their client companies operations comprise. In certain cases we make exceptions for best in class risks. In other cases we may recommend that we can do business together; however, certain clients might not fit in the program and should be covered in a state fund or assigned risk market, thereby striking a balance so that the PEO can leverage a full A rated interstate platform through Artex and maintain a relationship with the customer in an excluded class. 8

10 Contact Us Artex Risk Solutions The PEO specialists There is much for a PEO and its insurance agent to consider when placing its workers compensation coverage. We hope this buyer s guide has provided you with useful insights and information that will help you in this ever critical element of a PEO s livelihood. We invite you to call Artex today to speak with a member of our PEO experts team. We appreciate the opportunity to work with you. Contact: Andy Atsaves or , Ext. 223 Monday Friday 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. MST (02/11) Artex Risk Solutions. All rights reserved. Insurance coverages are underwritten by individual member companies of Zurich in North America, including Zurich American Insurance Company. Certain coverages are not available in all states. Some coverages may be written on a nonadmitted basis through licensed surplus lines brokers. 9

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