5-Star Workers’ Comp 2022

Partners in protecting the workforce

The workers’ compensation insurance segment in the United States has performed extremely well in recent years, relative to other lines of business in the hard commercial insurance market. Workers’ comp continues to be a profitable line for most carriers as claim activity and frequency have declined due to remote working arrangements, and rates remain flat. Partly as a result of these tailwinds, the 5-Star Workers’ Compensation award winners in 2022 have delivered outstanding services and support to brokers and their clients. 

Despite the market’s strong performance, there are some possible headwinds on the horizon. A recent survey conducted by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) determined that some of the top concerns for workers’ compensation insurers in 2022 are rate adequacy and COVID-19, as well as shifting workforces and workplaces and rising medical costs.  

“In the coming years, we expect to see rates stabilize before beginning to rise in light of industry accident year results”
Chris LaMantia, Omaha National 

 

 

Regarding rates, Chris LaMantia, chief marketing officer at Omaha National, a 5-Star award winner, says: “In 2021, we saw a steady softening of rates which led to continued increases in industry accident year loss ratios. Omaha National is fortunate in that we consistently generate loss ratios significantly lower than the industry average. In the coming years, we expect to see rates stabilize before beginning to rise in light of industry accident year results.”  

Meanwhile, Jeff Cole, AVP of national accounts for Sentry Insurance, also an award winner, says that the workers’ comp market has continued its historic streak of record results. “Looking ahead, it appears that prior year reserve releases that have been positively impacting the reported results are losing momentum against rising loss ratios in more recent years. We expect rates to be flat to slightly positive in the next year.” 

Another winner, Sandy Cyr, vice president of workers’ compensation at Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies, says that workers’ comp is a healthy line of insurance and even in 2020, the combined ratio came in under 90%. “In general, workplaces are safer, but there are concerns about what lies ahead for rate adequacy as we watch pricing decline year-over-year and wait for a post-COVID work environment to reveal itself,” she says. 

Regarding COVID, she adds: “While the pandemic impacted the insurance industry at large, workers’ compensation was hit especially hard. An abrupt change in the workforce in 2020, driven largely by lockdowns and layoffs, stifled premium growth for the line — down 10% according to NCCI. Last year, we saw an uptick in volume, but experts seem to agree that we might not be back to pre-pandemic levels until early 2023.” 

“We want to help our customers save lives, time and money by helping them prevent losses from happening in the first place”
Jeff Cole, Sentry Insurance 

 

 

What makes a winner? 

This year’s winners fall under 13 categories: claims processing, customer service, competitive premiums, most flexible, loss sensitive programs, construction, hospitality, manufacturing, loss control services, high-risk workers’ comp situations, low-risk workers’ comp situations, tech companies and communication. 

Omaha National won in claims processing, which it considers its defining strength. “We perform all claims management functions in-house at the highest levels of quality and service,” says LaMantia. The company also won in customer service, attributing its achievement to maintaining a human touch and speedy service, and he says that an automated service will never be used to answer the phone. Regarding competitive premiums, LaMantia notes that Omaha National provides high-rate business that others may shy away from. 

Meanwhile, Cyr says Berkshire Hathaway GUARD delivers extra savings to insureds who maintain programs designed to lessen risks for certain exposures, such as safety committees, and encourages smaller businesses to pool their workers’ comp experiences to possibly earn a dividend. “If giving our customers a price break based on certain loss mitigation techniques makes sense, we’ll do it,” says Cyr. Berkshire Hathaway GUARD also won in customer service, also citing their human touch and ability to match human resources and technology with their clients’ needs as key factors in the achievement.

Regarding competitive premiums, LaMantia noted that Omaha National provides high-rate business that others may shy away from. Meanwhile, Cyr says Berkshire Hathaway GUARD delivers extra savings to insureds who maintain programs designed to lessen risks for certain exposures, such as safety committees, and encourages smaller businesses to pool their workers’ comp experiences to possibly earn a dividend. “If giving our customers a price break based on certain loss mitigation techniques makes sense, we’ll do it,” says Cyr.  

Meanwhile, Sentry Insurance won in loss sensitive programs, and the company attributes its success to excellent customer service and delivering high-quality products and services that enable clients to focus on their business. 

For construction, LaMantia repeats a popular company saying: “Omaha National serves the companies that build America and keeps them running.” The company supports workers getting back on their feet and earning full wages, and strives to prevent fraud and abuse, he says.  

Then there’s hospitality, which has been a successful niche for Berkshire Hathaway GUARD . “Food handlers, hotel-motel owners, restaurateurs – it’s a low-hazard segment with clear-cut needs,” says Cyr. She adds that safety awareness goes a long way toward reducing work-related injuries such as slips, falls and cuts.  

Both Omaha National and Berkshire Hathaway GUARD have won for loss control services. The former cites safety materials for helping enable best practices, and the latter provides everything from online resources to onsite inspections to OSHA recommendations – whatever is needed for all sizes of businesses.  

Regarding the high-risk workers’ comp situations award, LaMantia says: “We have a broad appetite, but high risk, high-rate business is an area in which we excel. It’s a great match for our focus on superior claims management. Claims don’t scare us.”  

About the company’s achievement in low-risk workers’ comp situations, he says that although Omaha National mostly writes high-rate business, the company is happy to quote classes with lower rates in combination with high-rate classes. 

“Our approach to managing workers’ compensation claims has set us apart from the industry with lower-than-average loss ratios for many years”
Sandy Cyr, Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies

 

What survey participants want

As part of the survey, Insurance Business also asked participants to rank the following categories in terms of importance. From highest to lowest, they were competitive rates, claims handling, underwriting expertise, risk mitigation, available technology and range of products.  

Regarding competitive rates, Omaha National underwrites each risk based on its own merits and helps manage claims to help save clients’ money over time. Meanwhile, Sentry Insurance has powerful cost-control tools, such as a national pharmacy program – with savings around 30% below retail fees – and PPO discounts as well as litigation, subrogation and investigative resources to help control costs.  

“Our approach to managing workers’ comp claims has set us apart from the industry with lower-than-average loss ratios for many years,” says Cyr of Berkshire Hathaway GUARD’s claims handling. “Numerous factors contribute to our success, including early intervention, cost-effective medical management, and return-to-work activities.” 

As for underwriting expertise, LaMantia says that Omaha National doesn’t just rely on algorithms but digs into the data and does the research, enabling the insurer to quote some risks others would decline.  

Regarding Sentry Insurance’s underwriting process, Cole describes it as being “built around understanding our customers’ business and the industry they’re in. We create individualized insurance products that best suit each customer’s specific circumstances.”  

He says that to mitigate risk, “Sentry Insurance offers certified safety consultants and fleet service specialists who help guide our customers through risk scenarios, regulatory demands, training, and program gaps. We want to help our customers save lives, time, and money by helping them prevent losses from happening in the first place. We also have certified industrial hygienists experienced in assessing environmental and occupational health hazards.” 

Both Omaha National and Sentry Insurance have their own systems for available technology. The former’s, called Oncore, is a proprietary and comprehensive enterprise app, and the latter’s technology, a powerful risk management system, empowers brokers, agents and customers to manage online claims, monitor activity and generate loss reports – all in real time.  

And regarding product range, LaMantia describes Omaha National as a monoline workers’ compensation company that performs all key functions in-house and offers three ways to pay, including the popular pay-premium-as-you-go payroll service. 

Meanwhile, Sentry Insurance’s products include a traditional monthly paid loss program, monthly incurred loss program, prefunded and hybrid plans, standard incurred retros, loss cost multiplier plans and excess coverage for self-insureds.  
 

5-Star Workers’ Comp

  • AIG
  • Chubb
  • CNA
  • EMPLOYERS
  • Everest Insurance
  • Hanover
  • ICW Group
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Markel Insurance
  • Method Insurance Services
  • NYSIF Safety Groups
  • PIE Insurance
  • QBE
  • Sentry
  • The Hartford
  • Travelers
  • Zenith Insurance
  • Zurich Insurance Group

 

Claims processing 

  • Everest Insurance
  • ICW Group
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Travelers
  • Zenith Insurance

 

Customer service

  • Chubb
  • Everest Insurance
  • ICW Group
  • The Hartford

 

Competitive premiums

  • Everest Insurance
  • ICW Group
  • Method Insurance Services
  • PIE
  • The Hartford
  • QBE

 

Most flexible

  • Everest Insurance
  • ICW Group
  • The Hartford
  • Travelers

 

Loss sensitive programs

  • Everest Insurance
  • ICW Group
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Sentry
  • Zenith Insurance
  • Zurich Insurance

 

Construction

  • CNA
  • Everest Insurance
  • ICW Group
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • NYSIF Safety Groups
  • Travelers

 

Hospitality

  • Chubb
  • Everest Insurance
  • The Hartford
  • Travelers

 

Manufacturing

  • CNA
  • Everest Insurance
  • ICW Group
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • The Hartford
  • Travelers

 

Loss control services

  • ICW Group
  • Everest Insurance
  • Travelers
  • Zenith Insurance

 

High-risk workers’ comp situations

  • AIG
  • ICW Group
  • Everest Insurance
  • QBE
  • Zenith Insurance

 

Low-risk workers’ comp situations

  • Employers Insurance
  • Everest Insurance
  • Markel Insurance
  • The Hartford
  • Travelers

 

Tech companies

  • Chubb
  • CNA
  • Hanover
  • The Hartford
  • Travelers

 

Communication

  • Everest Insurance
  • ICW Group
  • The Hartford

Methodology

To select the best workers’ compensation insurers for 2022, Insurance Business America enlisted some of the industry’s top experts. During a 15-week process, IBA’s research team conducted one-on-one interviews with specialist brokers and surveyed thousands more within the magazine’s network to gain a keen understanding of what insurance professionals think of current market offerings. Brokers were first quizzed on what features they thought were most important in workers’ compensation insurance policies and then asked to nominate the carriers and policies across 13 key areas, including claims processing capabilities, customer service, competitive premiums, flexibility, communication and more. 

At the end of the research period, 23 insurance providers that offer the best overall service to brokers were named 5-Star Award winners.