The Iowa President’s Advisory Council for SECURA Insurance met on Oct. 7, 2021

Agent Representatives

Scott DeSousa, Friedman Insurance; Jared Vincent, Insurance Station of Iowa, Inc.; Joe Meyers, INSPRO-Marsh/McLennan; Scott Enyard, Relion Insurance Solutions; Doug Follman, Town & County.

SECURA Representatives 

Dave Gross, President & CEO; Tim Heyroth, SVP and Chief Sales Officer; Steve Miller, VP Commercial Lines Underwriting; Larry Wright, VP and Chief Claims Officer; Tamara Bates, Regional Vice President - Sales

Click the links below to navigate to the comment/response section for each topic.

SECURA Overview | Personal Lines | Commercial Lines | Farm-Ag Lines | Specialty Lines | Risk Management | Claims | Miscellaneous

SECURA Overview

Comments from Dave Gross

SECURA is up 11.0% – we are having a great year. We expect to end the year at approximately $900 million and end exceeding $1 billion at year-end 2023. Effective 1/1/21, Mutual Holding company was formed. All policyholders will now have mutuality rights – which is staggered as policies renew. This gives us the ability look at acquisitions and investments differently. Our combined is around 95% through September. We are working on reinsurance negotiation now, which should go well with not one catastrophe yet. We own first $10 million.

With 900+ associates, we had approximately 150 working remote before the pandemic and approximately 250 working remote now (we’ve had over 130 hires since the start of COVID). The week of July 4th, we started a transition for all Home Office Associates to return to the office at least three days a week with no travel restrictions, as we are better together and our culture and work ethic is best when we can work together in our new building. In our recent workplace strength survey, we had a 98.5% positive response rate from associates.

Personnel Updates – a new CFO has been hired, Christine Cousineau, who started Oct. 18. Diana Buechel, VP Personal Lines, has announced her retirement, and the interview process has begun.

Tamara Bates:

The state is up 14.3% and we expect to finish with over $61 million in written premium. Iowa has written $7.9 million of new business; 90.4% policy retention; 96% premium retention; 49.8% loss ratio, and a 10-year combined of 104% – driven by 2019 and 2020 weather. 2022 will have similar goals. We need to keep up the current momentum. We are working on new appointments in underserved areas/rural/spread of risk; diversify product lines and where we write in the state; more effective onboarding process; building relationships; high level service; hit with turnover over the past years due to promotions, etc. Thank you for your patience. 

Tim Heyroth

Year-to-date companywide growth is up 11.0%, which is exceptional; (new/retention/rate – all three are solid) Retention outperforms plan (premium in low 90s, policy retention around 90). Our rate plan was 2.8% and we are at 3.3% and planning for less than 3% next year. Over $100 million new business this year.  All lines of business are doing well in all states – all are exceeding plan except Personal Lines, which has seen positive growth, but not at plan. 

SECURA BizLink: 75% of eligible business is received through BizLink, with an 89% satisfaction rate; BizLink continues to evolve and will develop more customer experience (straight through processing as well as other enhancements). $8 million booked with 200+ classes. We are looking into agency integration pilot (API’s)/pilot Tarmika. 

Top initiatives: Modernization initiative on back end. SL300 (Specialty Lines 300) – how to grow this segment. We may hit $100 million this year. We plan to take Specialty Lines to $300 million (current states and state expansion). We went live with Specialty Lines in PA 10/1 (our first new state since 2006). Commercial Lines will follow in PA in 2022. We are building out an additional state expansion plan – more to come; no time frame at this point, and it may be segmented by product lines offered by state. 

Steve Miller 

We will end 2021 at $420 million in Commercial Lines; Personal Lines at $187 million; Farm/Ag at $170 million; and Specialty Lines at $101-102 million.

All four business units are in good shape and profitable; three of four business units are growing in the double digits. All four are planned to grow next year; all profitable. By size (premium volume) – Commercial; Personal/Farm-Ag/Specialty Lines.

Staffing: We are onboarding more underwriters so we can get to all good opportunities, and we are expanding the Risk Management team as well. We have 27 underwriting hires for the Associate Underwriting program starting 1/1/22. Service will be in good shape for Q4.

Service Center: No firm date yet, but we have a centralized service team created. It will be live some time in 2022 with $10,000 and under premium to start. It will not be mandatory.

We have a cyber upgrade live on 11/1/21 for new business and 2/1/22 for renewals. Renewal accounts will receive PLI’s; SL/Ag/CL. We are working on manufacturing E&O.

Larry Wright

Iowa had $5.7 million weather losses; $50.2 million companywide. The 7/9 storm resulted in $3.1 million in Iowa. The 6/17 had 350k in Iowa.

Tony Suriano is the Field Supervisor (promoted January 2020); Field Reps are Brian Hance from Cedar Rapids and Adam Stamper who lives in Ankenny.

Jean Timm, Manager – Claims Customer Service, retired at the end of 2020 and Heidi Christensen has replaced her (she is also responsible for Roadside Rescuer). Tony Brecunier – VP of Workers Compensation, will be retiring at the end of 2021 and John Oehler has been selected as his replacement. We will try to schedule travel for John.

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Personal Lines

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Pricing is tough. You typically fall into the 3-5 spot.

Response: Iowa’s next rate change is April 1, 2022; we review our competitive position as part of our rate review work. We understand once we’re out of the top 1, 2, or 3 carriers, it’s unlikely the quote will be completed in MILE-STONE Link and become a potential sale.

2. Comment: Tricia is great to work with.

Response: Tricia enjoys working with the Iowa agents, and we appreciate hearing this feedback.

3. Comment: We feel your coverages are good.

Response: We invest in several product upgrades annually with the most recent being the cosmetic hail loss to metal roof buy back coverage.

4. Comment: Credits are not all “loading’ in the rater.

Response: We are aware of this issue, and we are working with the real-time rating vendors to add several custom questions in order to have more discounts automatically flood into MILE-STONE Link. 

5. Comment: You are not flexible (no monoline home due to business autos and several other examples).

Response: We currently have a pilot project underway testing monoline home when insureds’ do not personally own any vehicles. More to follow as we determine next steps. 

6. Comment: Most carriers are offering equipment breakdown.

Response: Thus far, most agents do not feel this is a necessary endorsement and therefore is not a highly ranked project. If this is costing us new and/or renewal business, please communicate this to your Sales Manager or the Personal Lines Underwriting Supervisor for IA: Kathy Oudenhoven. 

7. Comment: Most carriers are offering cyber liability.

Response: We are considering various options on how best to offer Personal Lines cyber. For example, add additional cyber coverage into the MILE-STONE Gold Identity Theft coverage with additional limits available via endorsement. We understand this is a growing concern.

8. Comment: Why don’t you run reports until the end? It changes the quote and then we have to rework (time commitment).

Response: Good news – we’re automating the MVR at quote to have MILE-STONE Link automatically interpret MVR information and flood into the appropriate rating fields. This project will roll out sometime late 2021 or early 2022.

9. Comment: PL rater – doesn’t flood back into link. Some information gets flooded back, but not all goes back.

Response: See above answer to question #4. If there are inconsistencies in what floods, please contact Gina Neubert in our Agency Tech Support team to report this issue. Example – sometimes protective device credits flood and sometimes not.

10. Comment: Your pricing is not #1; it’s difficult to use.

Response: Our strategy is not to compete solely on price or to be a low cost provider.

11. Comment: Not writing motorcycles is an issue (only write package and motorcycles are becoming more popular). Also, the inability to “bind” is an issue.

Response: Motorcycle coverage is not available at this time, but we do put the MILE-STONE umbrella coverage over other carrier’s underlying motorcycle coverage if underlying liability limits are adequate. Building a motorcycle policy is a large project and currently not scheduled.

12. Comment: It is difficult to add toys (motorcycles). We want to write all together, so we write elsewhere.

Response: SECURA easily writes boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, RVs, golf carts, and jet skis within the package policy. Per the earlier question, motorcycles are the only toy not written on a primary basis by SECURA. 

13. Comment: Inability to buy back replacement cost other structures (fences, solar panels, swimming pools).

Response: There is no need for an endorsement. Replacement cost coverage applies automatically to non-building structures.

14. Comment: We would like to see a buy back option for roofs older than 15 years (AO has ability).

Response: In Iowa, homes with asphalt shingle roofs are eligible for replacement cost coverage if the roof is no more than 20 years old. Tricia has override capability if replacement cost coverage is needed for older roofs.

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Commercial Lines

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: We have no issues with your current tiered approach to the Communicable Disease exclusion for GL/Auto/Umbrella. We tell our insureds that disease was never covered and the exclusion reinforces what the policy states.

Response: We appreciate the feedback. We will continue to monitor and adjust our products as needed, though we feel we’ve created a fair approach for handling the exclusion based on those classes with the highest risk to reflect the uninsurable nature of pandemics. 

2. Comment: Manufacturing is a very crowded market. You need to differentiate yourself. Property is the driver. What are your reinsurers saying? We really just don’t think of you on these types of risks – as the risks you want all carriers want.

Response: We realize there are many markets willing to write manufacturers. With that said, we have a great product and coverages available at a competitive price for your insureds. We’ve also recently made enhancements to our Product Recall coverage to help us be more competitive and have capacity up to about $50 million per location on the property.

3. Comment: What are you looking for in manufacturing? 

Response: We are looking for wood, plastic, food, machine shops, and paper goods (not targeting anything E&S market based).

We’ve seen a lot of success with classes like beverage manufacturing, metal fabrication, food products, wood products, and plastics. We would not be a market for any critical or component parts for products, such as aircraft, ammunition or explosives, motorized vehicles or mobile equipment, or invasive medical products. If you have any questions on a specific risk, please discuss with your underwriter or sales manager.

4. Comment: You need quick quote – the general email sometimes takes 1-2 days to get to an underwriter Marketing people struggle with BizLink and feel it is slow. We have to input too much info and then receive a decline or get to the end and it tells you to submit an app.

Response: We appreciate the feedback. We continue working to improve BizLink so we can continue providing agents with quick quotes for their small business clients. We now have dedicated underwriters on our team handling all of the Commercial BizLink submissions to help provide a quick and consistent turnaround. When needing a quick turnaround and not utilizing BizLink, please discuss with your underwriter or sales manager and we will do everything we can to turn around a quick quote for you.

5. Comment: We would like composite rated auto.

Response: We are continuing to monitor the need for composite rating as our resources free up from other projects. Every year we prioritize potential enhancements, and while it is not currently in our top priorities, we will continue to evaluate for future development.

6. Comment: Have you considered pay as you go Work Comp?

Response: As with composite rating, we will continue to monitor the need for pay as you go and prioritize against other potential enhancements.

7. Comment: We love that you answer the phone or quickly call back.

Response: Great! We really value our agency partners and we recognize that even the little things like being responsive can go a long way.

8. Comment: We like your can do attitude.

Response: Thank you! We like to work with our agency partners to find mutually beneficial solutions. It’s always helpful having a conversation about a risk and hearing the entire story.

9. Comment: What are your service center plans? 

Response: We’ve approved the concept of a Commercial Lines Service Center and are in the early development stages. We plan on rolling out in a crawl, walk, run method starting with about four staff members and a very small group of agencies. The addition of Specialty Lines in that model is under consideration. Our main objective is to have flexible, thorough, knowledgeable staff members who can provide our policyholders with excellent customer service and maintain open communication with our agents.

10. Comment: Struggle with where the relationship should be. Feel these haven’t gained much traction. Staffing may be where an agency realizes benefit.

Response: On the relationship piece, we have heard this can be a challenge, both from making the insured aware to call the Service Center, and in some cases, gaining the agency CSR’s trust so that they feel comfortable forwarding their client to the Service Center. Because of this, we want to focus on two things; creating communication and marketing materials for the insured, making it clear which phone number or email they should contact, and hiring and training the best Service Center reps to ensure excellent customer service and a smooth transition. Ultimately, we want the service center to feel like an extension of your agency and deliver the top-notch service that your clients’ expect.

11. Comment: Is there flexibility with Work Comp underwriting for small contractors (3+ employees – would be bigger in a few years)?

Response: We always want to remain flexible, and we are willing to stretch outside our guidelines when the opportunity makes sense. While we may initially decline the Work Comp in these scenarios, if you feel there is a case to be made to reconsider, we’d love to hear the story. While we may not always accommodate these requests, we are always open to these discussions.

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Farm-Ag Lines

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Corey and Jeff are great to work with. 

Response: Thank you for that feedback, as we are thrilled to have them on the Farm-Ag team!

2. Comment: We would like to see you offer wider array of products (coop, feed mill, applicators, etc.).

Response: Agribusiness has enjoyed 11 years of double-digit growth with profitability. We want to continue that excellent momentum into the future. We will continue to look for ways to expand appetite and coverage options. We do not have plans to adopt the Commercial Output Policy and/or pursue Grain Elevators or Cooperatives. We do have some feed mills on the books as well as seed merchants and chemical dealers. When in doubt, call our underwriting team to explore our options in more detail. 

3. Comment: Have you looked into Custom Harvesters?

Response: Custom Farming is our largest class in policies and second largest in premium. This will continue to be a part of our future success.    

4. Comment: Property valuation – capacity.

Response: This is something we haven’t heard before. Without additional context, it’s difficult to determine the exact concern being raised as we write some fairly large risks with rather large TIV’s. We purchase FAC coverage when values exceed $20 million in any one location. Please feel free to contact the Farm-Ag management team if you wish to discuss in more detail.

5. Comment: We would like to see Farm download into management system. 

Response: Thanks for this feedback! This is important to us as well, and will be a priority as we make enhancements and changes to our policy administration system.

6. Comment: We would like the ability to quote Farm Umbrella within BizLink. 

Response: The farm umbrella system is in a different system, which makes it difficult to integrate into BizLink. We are researching enhancements to provide agents the ability to quote umbrellas within our FarmLink software.

7. Comment: We would like to see you open up Farm in Missouri.

Response: Captive insurers dominate Missouri, and the historical results in that state have been poor in most years. We have no immediate plans to enter that state for Farm.

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Specialty Lines

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Would you consider writing pollution on custom applicators? We currently have to go somewhere else (UCPM).

Response: We are able to offer some limited pollution coverage today on our “package” business. We are not able to offer this on a “monoline” basis, however. Please contact your underwriter to see what we are able to offer. However, we will take this feedback and add it to our list of ideas for potential product expansion.

2. Comment: What do you write? We need a refresher.

Response: Fortunately, we have a very balanced book of business, which is largely made up of Human Service Risks, Specialty Contractors, and Sports/Recreation operations. If you look at pure premium, our Human Service and Specialty Contracting are our largest segments. From a hit ratio perspective, our Sports/Recreation segment has the highest hit ratio. We definitely appreciate any opportunity you can provide us in these segments. If you want a more detailed refresher, please contact your sales manager and we can set something up!

SECURA Academy can assist you and your office with training on our Specialty Lines appetite. Please view our upcoming webinars by clicking this link:

3. Comment: Sports & Rec facilities are expanding (adding restaurants and alcohol). Alcohol limits have been an issue – you need to expand (20% of entire operation – more if just a percentage is food/drink).

Response: This is very good feedback. We want to be a market for these operations in Iowa, however we just need to make sure that we are not insuring a risk where the liquor is the main reason they are going to the establishment. Please forward any specific examples of this regard to your sales manager so we can look into this issue further.

4. Comment: We would like you to write wedding insurance (liability). It would include cancellation.

Response: We currently do insure weddings on a special event policy. However, at this time we do not include any sort of cancellation as a covered peril.

5. Comment: We would like to rate and issue online.

Response: Currently, we give our agency force the ability to quote several specialty classes via BizLink. In the near future, we are going to be adding more Specialty Lines classes, as well as straight through processing online.

6. Comment: It’s all about the ease.

Response: We agree! We pride ourselves on being easy to do business with. We are constantly looking for ways to make improvements to our model to make sure we are providing world-class service to our outstanding agency force.

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Risk Management

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Blake is great with Farm-Ag and just in general – one of the best.

Response: Thanks very much for the kind words; we feel the same about Blake!

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(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Can you supply data on SECURA’s experience with pandemic related losses.


Workers Compensation: We have had 128 work comp COVID claims submitted thus far. 100 are from one insured.  We have only paid on one claim thus far and we have one claim in litigation.

Property: We have had about 800 property COVID claims submitted thus far. These are all fully investigated by the rep and we have not found coverage on any of them, so they have all been denied. There is currently one claim in litigation.

2. Comment: What do you foresee the claims impact with electric vehicles? Fewer parts or cheaper to repair?

Response: We are not really seeing a substantial uptick in collisions with electric/hybrid vehicles. The biggest cost difference is around a battery or wiring that needs to be replaced if it is hit hard. The outer shell of these vehicles is pretty much the same as fueled autos. Industry articles around this subject show around a 3% increase in these vehicle types, which is something we are monitoring, but not something that we will see a drastic swing with.

Concerning Tesla Vehicles, there are not a lot of Tesla-certified dealerships so often times it’s a little bit more work to find a place that will do a repair for an insured’s vehicle. If it’s a non-drive often times the cost of the tow is greatly increased (and we do pay to get to the closest shop). The AST Reps have discussions with the shop first to really make sure they can do the repairs before we ship the vehicle far away and find out it’s a larger or more specialized job they can handle. We also know that Tesla requires a shop be Tesla-certified and that comes with a lot of extra hoops and in turn the shops rates are higher. 

3. Comment: Adam and all have done a nice job.

Response: Thank you for the compliment. We appreciate it very much. We will pass along your thanks to both Addam Stamper and Brian Hance.

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(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: What are your state expansion plans? We would like to see Nebraska, South Dakota, and Ohio.

Response: It is our desire to enter more states in the very near future. We just launched Pennsylvania with Specialty Lines, and we will be following with Commercial Lines in 2022. We are working on identifying our next state as we research the best opportunities and fit for SECURA and our agency partners.

2. Comment: SECURA marketing materials are great.

Response: Thank you! We strive to provide a variety of materials that are easy for you to download, order, and use with your clients. You can access them via the Sales Resource Center in AgentLink.

3. Comment: We would like ability to select sell sheets within BizLink and have it within a proposal.  End of proposal, can select all forms, proposal, etc. that want – would be a capability that would be great. (BizLink request)

Response: We have links to several sell sheets currently in BizLink, within help text. However, we will be looking into auto attaching the sell sheets to quotes in the near future, as well as creating a quote proposal. 

4. Comment: Agency training is great. 

Response: Thank you. We love bringing training to our agents. We will be in Iowa in 2022, and we hope to see you there!

5. Comment: We wish Work Comp commissions were more competitive. Monoline carriers are aggressive in pricing, dividends, and commissions.

Response: We continue to monitor our commission structure. If there is a particular account we can help you on, please reach out to your sales manager.

6. Comment: We are having an issue getting late fees waived with the billing department. With late/delayed processing then late fees with a reasonable explanation – saying one-time exception.

Response: Late fees are assessed at the time of issuing a PCN (20 days after invoicing). Payment history is reviewed for approval of waiving a late fee, typically one in 12 months will be waived depending on each situation.

7. Comment: Your Sales Managers are the best. Engaged, driver of business – they do a great job.

Response: Thank you for your comments. Rick and Scott are a great team and work hard on behalf of our agents and our company. This has definitely helped in our success in Iowa.

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