The Illinois President’s Advisory Council for SECURA Insurance met on Oct. 20, 2021

Agent Representatives

Paul Tack, McLallen Enterprises; Ned Cooke, J Wiedemann & Sons, Inc.; Chad Beth, Beth & Rudnicki Insurance; Troy Alexander, Thorn Creek Insurance Services; Mike Aiello, Troxell

SECURA Representatives 

Tim Heyroth, SVP and Chief Sales Officer; Marty Arnold, SVP and Chief Underwriting Officer; Jennifer Nelson, VP Property Claims; Kristin Heiges, Director Marketing and Customer Experience; Shane Roh, 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

Tim Heyroth:

SECURA is up 11.3% compared to a plan of 7% – we are having a great year (new/retention/rate – all three are solid). We expect to end the year at approximately $900 million and exceed $1 billion year-end 2023. Retention outperforms plan (premium in low 90s and policy retention around 90). Our rate plan was 3% and we are at 3.2/3.3% and planning for less than 3% next year. We’ve had over $100 million new business this year. All lines of business are doing well in all states – all exceeding plan except Personal Lines – positive growth but not at plan.

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 95-96 through September.

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 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. We feel our culture and work ethic is best when we are together and can work together in our new building.

Top Initiatives: Modernization initiative on back end. SL300 (Specialty Lines 300) – how to grow this segment. We may hit $100 million in Specialty Lines this year. We plan to take Specialty Lines to $300 million (current states and state expansion). We went live in PA with Specialty Lines on 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 segment specific by state. Grow Minnesota – a 5-year plan to double premium writings and we are in year four.

SECURA BizLinkSM: 75% of eligible business is received through BizLink, with a 90% satisfaction rate; BizLink continues to evolve and will develop more customer experience enhancements (straight through processing as well as other enhancements). $8 million booked with 150+ classes. We are looking into an agency integration pilot (API’s)/pilot, Tarmika.

As many of you know, Illinois is very active with a comprehensive market conduct exam. Thanks to those of you who have assisted in providing the examiners with underwriting information retained by the agency. We will find opportunities for improvement and will react to get better. As these changes impact you and your clients, we will communicate them to you. Thank you for your understanding, cooperation, and support.

Marty Arnold:

All four business units are in good shape and profitable; 3 of 4 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. Specialty Lines may hit $100 million by year-end.

Investment in staffing: We are onboarding more underwriters so we can get to all good opportunities, and we are expanding the Risk Management team as well. Commercial Lines accounts for 48% of our premium, and we are hoping for a Service Center sometime in Q4 of 2022; Farm/Ag is 19% of our writings; and Specialty Lines is the smallest unit, but growing the fastest, and we hope to be at $100 million by year-end.

Commercial Lines property is more firm than anticipated. Farm – we are getting rate and need to continue; we’ve lost money the past four years; Commercial Lines Auto – trucking plenty of rate to be taken, however, severity continues to accelerate.

Diana Buechel, Vice President – Personal Lines, has announced her retirement. We are just starting the interview process. A new CFO has been hired. Christine Cousineau started Oct. 18.

Jennifer Nelson

Illinois had $2.3 million in weather losses; $50.2 million companywide with five major storms, but none that have reached Cat limits. It’s been an excellent year. Eric Vohs is the Claims Manager for the area with Dena Ogden as a resident adjuster in Cuba, IL (hired 3/15/21). We are currently looking for a replacement for Scott Danielewicz who has left to pursue other opportunities – we appreciate any referrals you may have for this open position.

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, Vice President – Workers’ Comp, 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.

Shane Roh

The great state of Illinois is up 14.2% vs. a plan of 9.3%. By 2024/2025, I expect the state to be $100 million. Commercial Lines is up 17% vs. a plan of 9.7%; Farm-Ag is up 15.5% vs. a plan of 15%; Specialty Lines is up 20% vs. a plan of 8%. We are struggling somewhat in Personal Lines with a plan of 3.2% and we are down 5%. We continue to look for new appointments where it makes sense. Continue to use BizLink, and remember there is a $50 gift card for accounts written through BizLink through the end of the year.

With growth and the future plan, we will possibly add a third sales resource in the near future.

Kristin Heiges

Our Marketing team is focused on creating content to support you. We’ve added two new roles in customer experience and user experience. One major project for us in 2022 is working on the refresh of mySECURA to improve user experience for our policyholders; the long-term goal is to expand functionality for additional lines of business.

Personal Lines

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Your rates are not competitive.

Response: Ilinois’ rate change is effective April 1, 2022, and we’ll begin work shortly. Our analysis includes understanding our relative competitive position for both home and auto rates.

2. Comment: We would like you to write motorcycles.

Response: This is a large project currently not scheduled. SECURA writes umbrella coverage over other carriers’ primary motorcycle policies.

3. Comment: We would like the ability to separate limits from Auto to Home (CSL to match). Other carriers will split.

Response: We have no plans to alter the liability limits structures within the MILE-STONE. product.

4. Comment: Have you thought about adding Equipment Breakdown?

Response: Yes, but Equipment Breakdown coverage is not currently a highly ranked product feature based on agent feedback. We’ll continue to monitor.

5. Comment: Cyber coverage would be nice.

Response: We have framework for Personal Lines cyber, and we will begin work on this important product endorsement in 2022.

6. Comment: Would like you to write in Florida (for second homes).

Response: We have no plans to write homeowners coverage in Florida.

7. Comment: There is an issue with adding a second home to a MILE-STONE policy (monoline – in another state).

Response: Based on system limitations, if an Illinois insured owns a home in another SECURA state, a separate MILE-STONE (home only) policy needs to be written. We do ‘marry’ the policies behind the scenes in order to properly activate various rating and discount factors.

8. Comment: You are tight on roof (converting to ACV). How many years?

Response: This was recently broadened. We no longer change roof coverage to ACV on renewal when the roof is more than 20 years old.

9. Comment: You need to write wood/shake roofs.

Response: This was also recently broadened. SECURA writes homes with wood shake roofs subject to a small surcharge.

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Commercial Lines

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: We were not aware of your tiered approach to the Communicable Disease exclusion for GL/Auto/Umbrella. How does it compare with other carriers?

Response: Our intent was to develop a common sense solution that works for you and your clients, but also provides us with protection for the most susceptible risks. We feel that our approach is in line with or even less restrictive than what we’re seeing in the marketplace. Our approach has been well received overall.

2. Comment: We feel like you run into property/reinsurance limit issues (close to $25-$30 million at a single location).

Response: We do have TIV guidelines around a limited number of property-driven classes such as condominium associations and bowling alleys. However, these are only guidelines and we’re always willing to review and discuss high quality accounts where the TIV may exceed our guidelines. Reinsurance is generally not an issue as we can obtain coverage that exceeds $50 million in a single location for most classes of business.

3. Comment: Manufacturing – you seem to have concerns when the end user of product is unknown.

Response: We understand that manufacturing operations can present challenging exposures and unique coverage needs. We’re continually working to deepen our expertise through training programs, the development of subject matter experts, and leveraging our reinsurance relationships. We’ve also made product improvements, such as our enhanced product recall form, to make sure we offer the coverages necessary to compete in this segment. We’ve challenged ourselves to broaden our manufacturing appetite and while progress has been made, we know there’s more work to be done. Your feedback is an important part of this process.

4. Comment: Business Income on larger risks becomes an issue.

Response: Overall, we feel that our Business Income offerings are in step with the market. However, if there’s a specific scenario that’s driving this feedback, we’d love to hear it. Your feedback is important as we strive to provide competitive products that meet the needs of your clients. Feel free to reach out to your sales manager or underwriter to discuss further.

5. Comment: You have good communication.

Response: Thank you! We place a great emphasis on how we communicate to our agency partners. We ask our underwriters to assess the situation and then determine the best means of communication.

6. Comment: We love your old school underwriting technique.

Response: Thank you! We take great pride in being a relationship-driven company that is easy to do business with.

7. Comment: How does your property form compare to national carriers? We feel they have a more robust product.

Response: Overall, we feel that our property coverages are in step with the market. Our trade specific “WRAPs” (coverage extensions) are convenient options that provide many of the specific coverages that your clients need. However, if there’s a specific scenario that’s driving this feedback, we’d love to hear it. Your feedback is important as we strive to provide competitive products that meet the needs of your clients. Feel free to reach out to your sales manager or underwriter to discuss further.

8. Comment: Work Comp rates for contracting classes – deviated 20% higher than market – limits flexibility

    1. Trend?
    2. We sometimes carve out Work Comp and put it elsewhere.

Response: We evaluate our rates on an annual basis to ensure that we’re balancing the needs of being both competitive and profitable. This has been especially important, as we’ve seen rates trend down in recent years. Our growth and profitability trends indicate that we’re in good balance. In particular, we’ve seen steady growth among contracting classes. We do have tools available to help should this become an issue on high quality contracting account. If you have a particular account where this has become an issue, please contact your Commercial Lines underwriter.

9. Comment: When you have a service center, good monthly reports are necessary.

Response: Thank you for the feedback. We have heard from others as well that this is an important part of the Service Center. We have gathered examples of reporting best practices that we will use to build our reporting functionality.

10. Comment: Communication between the carrier and agency on service center business is crucial (i.e., if a risk no longer fits, would be cancelled, etc.).

Response: As we design our standard operating procedures, we’ve been very cognizant of situations where the Service Center Specialist needs to get the agency involved. Ultimately, we want the service center to feel like an extension of your agency, so open communication will be crucial.

11. Comment: BizLink:

a. Your BOP isn’t as broad as other carriers.

Response: Our approach to adding BOP to Bizlink was to add those classes that we commonly write and that require little underwriting. We will continue to consider adding additional classes in the future.

b. We would like a better proposal.

Response: This is something we have plans on looking into in the very near future, and we hope to have implemented in 2022.

c. What size contractors can you write?

Response: BizLink will allow contractors with up to $1 million in payroll and $10 million in receipts.

d. The system is fine/good. It is easy to navigate.

Response: Thanks for this comment. Our usage continues to improve and satisfaction rates are near 90%! 

e. We would like to enter EFT info when issuing.

Response: We will be starting to work on automating the issuance process, which will include allowing payment to be made upon issuance. This will include being able to enter EFT info immediately.

f. We would like the ability to print auto ID cards (like MILE-STONE).

Response: With the work to automate the issuance process, this will include being able to immediately obtain auto ID cards.

g. Are any of these products auditable?

Response: Yes, the BOP and TC both are auditable. All TC policies are subject to audit, as well as BOP quotes with over $5 million in receipts. For the Specialty Lines CP policies, the GL is auditable for anything with a sales or payroll exposure basis AND GL premiums exceeding $2,500.

h. We would like marketing pieces with quotes.

Response: We do have links to the marketing pieces in most of the help text within BizLink, but we are looking into attaching those pieces automatically.

12. Comment: Cyber Lite doesn’t do a lot. Limits? Usage?

Response: As technology continues to evolve and cyberattacks become more frequent, we are continuously evaluating our cyber coverage offerings to ensure that we can protect your customers from potential exposures. Upon examining the current cyber market and the different types of cyber claims, we have come to the decision to discontinue our current Cyber Lite option and focus solely on offering our Cyber Suite option. Offering our updated Cyber Security coverage will provide a comprehensive insurance solution to your customers to help them respond to a full range of cyber incidents. The change will take effect on new business first quoted in our system on or after 11/1/2021 and on renewals effective 2/2/2022. If you have any questions, please contact your sales manager or underwriter.

13. Comment: Employment practices – you need a more robust product (we seek coverage elsewhere). Limits? Details?

Response: We offer a comprehensive Employment-Related Practices Liability Insurance policy for small to large employers. This provides your client coverage for wrongful termination, failure to promote, sexual harassment, discrimination, and other actions related to employment activities.

Several approaches are available to address your unique client needs.

  1. Small Business Coverage for risks with up to 30 employees
    • $100,000 & $250,000 limit offerings
  2. Mid-Market Coverage for risks with more than 30 employees
    • Limits up to $1,000,000 available
    • Third Party Coverage & Wage and Hour available

Full details of our EPLI product offerings can be found on AgentLink, or you can ask your sales manager or underwriter for more details.

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Farm-Ag Lines

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Our underwriter is great.

Response: Thank you for that feedback! We are glad to have Brian on our team!

2. Comment: We would like quicker responses.

Response: If you are not receiving the service you have come to expect from SECURA, please reach out to your sales manager or a member of the Farm-Ag underwriting management team with specific information and we will address it accordingly.

3. Comment: We would like underground utility line coverage.

Response: This is on our list of future enhancements, but we do not have a specific date to share at this time.

4. Comment: We would like you to offer cyber availability.

Response: We have prioritized cyber as a coverage we would like to offer on our Farm Protector policy, and it is certainly on our radar. We do have the means to access cyber coverage today by writing a monoline commercial property policy. We realize this is less than ideal, but is a way for you to access the coverage currently with us.

5. Comment: Have you thought about building EPLI limits (i.e., $100k)?

Response: This coverage is available today, but requires and additional policy in order to obtain coverage. We are very interested in providing coverage on the Farm Protector policy. This is something we are exploring but do not have a definitive date at this time.

6. Comment: Product liability would be nice (i.e., selling honey/tomatoes, etc.).

Response: Depending on the nature and scope of the operations, we do offer coverage for products liability for “farming” operations (which may include the selling of crops at roadside stands or farmer’s markets). Larger operations selling directly to consumers, operations that don’t fit the definition of “farming,” or those operations which are otherwise excluded under our Special Farmowners Protector Policy would likely be best served by a Commercial Agribusiness Policy. If you would like to discuss a specific situation, please talk to your underwriter or sales manager.

7. Comment: There needs to be tweaking on coverages.

Response: We regularly review coverage and make adjustments as the market changes. Absent specific feedback, we aren’t exactly sure what tweaks are being recommended.

8. Comment: We would like you to be in Kentucky and Missouri for Farm.

Response: SECURA is excited about state expansion and is putting together a team. This group will determine resources, state order, and lines of business. We will share information with our agency partners as the process progresses.

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Specialty Lines

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: You are competitive in Fire Suppression.

Response: Thank you! This is a class of business we have really focused on over the last few years, as we feel that our product is very competitive in the marketplace.

2. Comment: Security – unsure what jobs they may take (Philadelphia is good to place). For this reason, we don’t place with you (strict guidelines).

Response: The marketplace for security firms is hardening no doubt, us included. We are still a marketplace for detectives and some security guards, but our results on security guards that are responsible for large events has not been good, therefore we had to revise our guidelines to make sure we remain profitable in this class.

3. Comment: Schools & municipalities – alarm & locksmith – you won’t write once?

Response: Correct, for the most part we feel these are on the higher hazard end of the Alarm/Lock contractor class. However, if the insured is doing only the install of items such as CCTV, etc., we may be a market for some of these entities.

4. Comment: You just aren’t on our radar.

Response: It is unfortunate to hear that. Please feel free to contact the VP of Specialty Lines directly at to discuss where you think we are missing and why we are not on your radar. We want to make sure we are a viable market for all of our agency partners.

5. Comment: We would like you to consider gun and ammo sales at shooting ranges.

Response: We will consider some incidental sales of these items at the shooting ranges we insure. However, when the guns and ammo become the main source of revenue and are taken off premises that is where our appetite changes given some of the larger unfavorable court cases for these risks in recent years.

6. Comment: Your not-for-profit appetite is so small.

Response: Our NFP appetite continues to grow. We realize that all of these risks are so unique, so we know we need to be aware of the marketplace. We will continue to expand our appetite for this segment in the near future, so please look for an announcement on that.

7. Comment: What is your appetite for animal shelter type risks?

Response: We are not a market for animal shelter or humane society type risks. We did a study in the recent past which looked at how much premium we take in for the risk assumed. Given the fact that most of these risks have very low premium it did not outweigh the risks of animal behavior claims we would be brought into based on their operations.

8. Comment: What are you writing?

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, Human Services and Specialty Contracting are our largest segments. From a hit ratio perspective, our Sports and 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.

9. Comment: Can we get an update on food truck writing, appetite, unique coverages, etc.?

Response: Our Food Truck business is relatively new, in that we first started to write these only a few years ago. We are currently growing at a 30% clip this year. Probably the most “unique” coverage we offer on this class is the Business Income on the auto. If a food truck is down based on a covered loss for commercial auto it can be very costly.

10. Comment: Do you offer BI on Auto?

Response: We do offer this coverage, however we do not do it on a stand-alone basis.

11. Comment: No complaints.

Response: Thank you. We try to make it easy for our agents to place business with us. Can we write EVERYTHING? Of course not, but we are willing to listen to our great agency partners if they have risks they think we should consider.

12. Comment: Is Work Comp tightening on certain classes?

Response: We do not have a specific plan in place to minimize writing workers’ compensation. We feel that by offering this coverage on certain types of specialty risks, it gives our agents the upper hand on writing and retaining more business. We realize however, our workers compensation appetite is more limited by design. We are looking for ways to expand our appetite into the future.

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Risk Management

(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Tracy and Sara both do a nice job.

Response: Thank you very much for the nice words! We appreciate that you recognize their hard work for you and your insureds!

2. Comment: As growth continues, is there potential for new hires? It is important to do sooner vs. later. Keep that in mind as you have growth plans for the state.

Response: Thanks for your question. Yes, we do have plans to hire for Illinois near the mid-2022 time frame.

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(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Scott was awesome – even on denials.

Response: We agree. Scott did a great job for us, and we were sad to see him move on to another opportunity. If you know of anyone who would be a good replacement for Scott, please let your sales manager know and we will reach out to them.

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(Agent comments with SECURA responses)

1. Comment: Your Work Comp commissions are low.

Response: While our Work Comp commissions may be lower than some competitors, we like to believe that our total agency compensation – which includes profit sharing – is top in the marketplace.

2. Comment: We love that you have Field Sales Managers – not all carriers do.

Response: Randy Cesich and Matthew Biniak are incredible resources for our Illinois agents. Please continue to build that ever important relationship with them to help future growth.

3. Comment: When coming out with a customer portal/app, making a payment, auto ID cards, filing a claim, and requesting certificates are crucial.

Response: These features are on our list for mySECURA, our policyholder website. We are starting with functionality for Personal Lines policyholders, with long-term goals to expand this for other lines of business.

4. Comment: We like your Nurse Hotline sell sheet.

Response: Thank you! We have this and many other marketing materials available to you via the Sales Resource Center in AgentLink.

5. Comment: We would like proposals.

Response: This is something we are looking at.

6. Comment: The Why SECURA marketing piece seems to be outdated.

Response: Thank you for letting us know. We will make sure this piece is up to date.

7. Comment: Your communication was and continues to be great.

Response: Thanks for this comment. Illinois is an incredibly important state for us. Sales and all underwriting units have great relationships and communication. This carries forward to our relationships and communications with our agents. 

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