CompWest Quarterly Q2 2020
Second Quarter 2020
Recognizing the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, AF Group has announced a new People First Relief Program designed to ensure the health and safety of our workforce while offering more than $20 million in immediate financial and operational assistance to our valued agents, policyholders and injured workers. Elements of the multi-tiered program are offering support to vulnerable businesses and providing resources to support community service organizations across the country.
“Our partnership with agents, policyholders, injured workers and our communities has led to remarkable and shared success for more than a century,” said Lisa Corless, president and CEO of AF Group. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges to so many, and this important relief program reflects our commitment toward supporting our customer base and our communities. All of this is predicated on the efforts of our amazing workforce, which is why we’re also working hard to protect the health and safety of more than 1,500 teammates nationwide. Their dedication to our collective success is allowing us to make a lasting impact.”
The People First Relief Program is supporting AF Group’s agents by offering options to accelerate agency commissions and profit sharing for those who qualify, providing opportunities to partner with food service policyholders to deliver food to essential workers, and adding new online resources to help agents to stay connected with their customers.
For policyholders, flexibility is being offered to extend payment due dates and to ensure policies are not cancelled for non-payment, as well as expedited processing of payroll changes to adjust premiums to provide more immediate financial relief. For injured workers, the benefit of electronic fund transfer (EFT) is allowing quicker access to claim payments and new telehealth services featuring virtual medical and physical therapy services are available.
In local communities, AF Group has continued to support charitable organizations in Michigan and these donations will increase nationwide over the next several months in the communities where employees work and live.
“Through the years, our collective success has been the direct result of the tireless commitment of our teammates and our remarkable partnerships with agents and policyholders,” said Corless. “We consider it an honor and a privilege to protect our teammates while exploring every opportunity to help sustain these partnerships for a shared, successful future.”
For more information, including a short video, visit the People First Relief Program page at AFGroup.com.
As you begin to reopen and maintain operations in pandemic times, it is more important than ever to enable a safe and healthy workforce. To assist you during this challenging period, we have created a set of safety resources, found on our Preventing Virus Spread landing page.
As a leader in specialty insurance, we are constantly creating new tools and services to make it easy to do business with us. That’s why we’re excited to announce the upcoming launch of our new public websites and our new secure customer portals! AF Group and each of its brands will deploy new sites and portals next month that will offer improved tools and navigation.
Website updates include:
- Enhanced, searchable resource library of marketing materials, tip sheets, posters and more
- Audience self-select feature to quickly direct visitors to the information most pertinent to them
- Simplified and organized content
Secure customer portal enhancements (does not include eLink/Diamond):
- Mobile responsive design for tablets and phones
- Easy-to-use resource library
- Enhanced search capabilities
- Customized quick links to other applications
- Refreshed and clean look/feel
- New portal for injured workers to help service their claims
To make portal access intuitive and simple, we’ve kept the ‘Login’ dropdown in the same location as our current sites — and have also added it in several easy-to-locate spots, such as within our audience-specific content boxes and on landing pages. Another way we’ve simplified the process is by eliminating the need to self-select by audience when logging in — you will simply click ‘login’ to be taken directly to the digital customer portal login page. Note that log-in credentials will not change – and dually-appointed agents will still have two log-ins that can be accessed through the brand-specific websites.
To learn more about the new portal, click here for a short eLearning: https://rise.articulate.com/share/Szzi-6qgtGKi8HxuukqxkjFRydCuEgOE
Agent Portal Landing Page
We look forward to sharing these new tools with you soon and hope you enjoy the features and enhanced functionality. Look for more information about our go-live via email.
AF Group has introduced a new platform that offers a digital solution to small business customers who prefer to research and begin their shopping experience online, but also want the support and service of a trusted independent agent.
The Digital Acquisition program offers Accident Fund and CompWest agent partners access to the digital consumer, providing an opportunity to compete in this rapidly evolving market.
“The emergence of AF Group in the digital marketplace is a game-changer and a long-term investment in the success of both the company and our valued independent agents,” said Abel Travis, vice president of Fundamental Underwriters. “Enabling our agents through the Digital Distribution platform will allow us to provide coverage for customers we wouldn’t necessarily have reached. Business originating digitally continues to grow and AF Group is now better positioned than ever to help our agents navigate this segment and capitalize on these opportunities, which are reflective of changing customer expectations.”
Digital acquisition is available to Accident Fund and CompWest agents, with more than 70 agencies currently committed to the program and new agencies added every week.
The AF Group/agent agreement offers these agencies a digital marketing playbook to cost-effectively drive digital traffic and a branded point-of-sale platform with automated quoting capabilities and marketing tools to effectively drive digital business.
Governor and public policy presumption activity – AF Group’s position is that state-created “presumptions” are unnecessary and an illegal violation of well-established principles of workers’ compensation law. AF Group’s willingness to engage in public policy discussions and to consider the potential business implications of such “presumptions” is not, in any way, to be construed or otherwise interpreted as any sort of deviation from that position.
We anticipate our industry is moving into the next phase of COVID-19 public policy – with virtually all priority AF Group markets having either enacted a “presumption” or opted not to. This will involve guarding against the risk of reauthorization or permanent enactment of state-created “presumptions” in our priority markets by activist legislators or other policy makers seeking to drive anti-industry action. As media coverage and attention will play a key role in this phase, we’re working to establish messaging tools to provide our industry/advocacy partners to use in engaging the media and educating policy makers.
Political advocacy strategy – given workers’ comp has been an effective mechanism to protect workers for over 100 years, our strategy to promote the continued effectiveness of the system during COVID-19 is predicated on creating fair solutions that are established through core guiding principles. These core principles should:
- Ensure there is a positive test or a diagnosis from a doctor.
- Make it a rebuttable presumption.
- Narrow the presumption to those employees coming into routine contact or proximity to COVID-19.
States of significance – the following has been the advocacy focus of AF Group Government Relations for the last eight weeks:
- Legislation has been introduced that would effectively make permanent the current Whitmer Emergency Rule – creating a rebuttable presumption of coverage for COVID-19 contracted during a declared emergency.
- Government Affairs continues to work with our advocacy partners to strengthen policymakers‘ understanding of the workers’ comp system and all we do for our employees, agent partners, injured workers, employers and communities.
- Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order (EO) creating a rebuttable workers’ compensation presumption. Although not perfect, the outcome of this EO could have been much worse. Key elements of the EO are:
- The order is limited in duration and only applies from March 16-July 5, 2020.
- Unlike every other state that has acted in this space, a compensable claim MUST produce a positive COVID test. This has been AF Group’s number one priority advocacy principal.
- The order requires COVID-19 sick benefits be exhausted before TD benefits are paid.
- The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) repealed negative emergency rule, meaning there is no COVID-19 “presumption” law in Illinois at this time.
- This week, one of the Governor’s key advisors reportedly tested positive for COVID and in order to minimize risk for his staff and self, Governor Pritzker will now self-quarantine for 14 days.
- AF Group remains extremely engaged in the political process and with those intimately involved in the Illinois political environment.
- Under the circumstances, legislation has been enacted requiring the claimant be COVID positive (doctor’s diagnosis or positive test), applying to a small segment of employees coming into routine contact or proximity to COVID within the scope of work, and the presumption is rebuttable.
- Presumption of Occupational Disease for First Responders Emergency Rule issued for first responders, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, but excluding medical professionals.
Florida, South Carolina and Indiana
- No concern – departments or political leaders simply attempting to reinforce the fact that existing workers’ comp coverage will protect those who in fact acquire COVID at work.
- House Bill 1057 would create a “rebuttable presumption” that first responders, health care workers and other essential workers with COVID got it at work, qualifying them for compensation unless the employer could prove otherwise. The bill has nearly 58 sponsors, almost enough to pass the House.
- This week, business groups came out against the measure, sending lawmakers a white paper that labeled the proposal “a fundamental threat to the continued viability of the workers’ compensation system in our state.” AF Group’s primary concern is some of our customary allies are not reacting as they traditionally do and have signed on as co-sponsors. We remain extremely engaged and will continue to do all we can to protect the integrity of the industry.