A.I.M. Mutual: Affinity Market Groups: What We Bring to the Workers’ Comp Table
Welcome to the A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Companies' podcast. I'm Mark Millett, the Senior Manager of Human Resources here at A.I.M. Mutual and I want to welcome all of our listeners and thank you for taking the time to check out our podcast that's dedicated to emerging issues in workers' compensation. So our discussion today is about a market approach that has real traction in the workers' comp space. We're talking about affinity market groups. So whether it's restaurants, golf courses, breweries hospitals, or any other industry for that matter, there are clear benefits to placing coverage with A.I.M. Mutual in an affinity market group. So I'm excited today to have with us, our Director of Sales and Marketing, Kevin Snyder and also our Director of Injury Prevention Worksite Wellness and Business Relations, Dan Ilnicky. But we're going to talk about what drives this concept of affinity market groups at A.I.M. Mutual, and frankly, why we're so good at it. Right. So Kevin and Dan, thanks for joining us. Great to have you with us.
Thanks for having us, Mark.
Yeah, thank you very much.
Awesome. So looking forward to this conversation, so let's go behind the scenes for a minute and talk about why this approach works so well for broker partners and their clients. We do have some experience here already, right?
So yeah, we have several groups that we've already worked with brokers on putting together and so far so good. These group marketing programs tend to have benefits for the brokers' clients so obviously there's benefits to the brokers as well. So like you just mentioned all those different types of groups, whether it's, you know, breweries or golf courses or hospitals or restaurants, or any other innumerable numbers of different types of groups, there’s power in banding together. So whether that's for services that are tailored to you--whether there's potential pricing benefit--those are all things that are beneficial to the policyholder or insured. And then of course, if an agent or a broker can bring those things to their client, it's an opportunity for them really, for two things, one --to bring something specific to that client that's a need for them or a want for them, but also it's, number two-- it's an opportunity for them to bring in new business, with more volume. So rather than, you know, new business on some sort of a onesy-twosie type situation, it's an opportunity for them to potentially pick up multiple new clients in one stroke
One of the things that I've heard already from some of the group activities that we've had is just the simple fact of it breaks down some of the barriers and allows for some natural networking to occur, right? You think of similar operations and in some regard as competitors, but it doesn't always result that way. Oftentimes what happens is, you know, maybe they work at a geographic advantage so you've got one company in this area and they don't have a lot of competition, but there's some natural networking opportunities that come up and say, well, how are you dealing with that? How are you able to address in the labor market? How are you, you know, working the supply chain issue right now? Can I help? Can you help? And, you know, sometimes you have some of that collaboration that goes on as well to say, let's break that down a little bit. And by nature, what happens is just because of the connection that resulted now, they're getting a business advantage from that as well.
Yeah. Always good to find out that there's other people or companies that are similar to yours and they're having the similar issues and, and you've got resources out there to help you. So that that's great stuff.
So there's some differences among the New England states that we do business in, right? So in Massachusetts, our home state, how do we go about establishing an affinity market group? And what do we offer?
One of the things that as a workers' compensation insurance company is--one of the challenges we have-- is that yes, all the states have different rates and are regulated in different ways. And so, we do have to keep that in mind, whenever we're putting something together, like a new program or a new group or helping a broker do so. So for example, in Massachusetts, Massachusetts is a deviation state, which means that we can deviate from the state rates on the workers' compensation side, but we only have limited options to do so. So there's a limited ability to compete and to offer pricing differentials or credits on a policy. So, that's different than the other five new England states where things like safety programming or injury prevention programming, you know, having a safety committee, loss history, you know, all these things, can potentially be used.
And again, it's different for each state, but can potentially be used to offer credits on a policy. But in Massachusetts, that's a little bit different. So, you know, what we tend to focus on in the group spaces is, again, some of the things we were just talking about, some of the benefits of being in a group outside of just price, you know, we want to focus on value and what you'd be getting, you know, as a part of this specific affinity group, the question about, you know, how do we go about establishing groups? And that the fact is that most groups are already established. There's already a Brewer's association, there's already a golf association, there's already, you know, a restaurant association. So, you know, so what we tend to do is kind of a two track approach.
One is to approach agents and say, you know, are there any groups that you already represent? So if you're a broker, you might already have a relationship with x group, and already place insurance business for the members of that group. So let's have a conversation, you know, where do you place the workers' comp? Is there an opportunity for A.I.M. Mutual in there? Is there not, you know, whatever the opportunity may or may not be, let's just talk about it. And then we can kind of show you what the benefits of the group are. But one of the benefits that we bring to the table that maybe some other carriers or that no other carrier does is we also bring the services of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts. So AIM can bring into that group, a number of services, HR services, they create what's called communities.
So they can create a community of like businesses where a lot of what Dan was just talking about occurs, right? Sharing of information, specified seminars and education, all of those types of things that, that AIM brings in a general sense, they can bring specific to the members of a group. Okay. So in Massachusetts, that's something that is unique to what A.I.M. Mutual can offer. And then in the other states, we do have the ability to do things like credits on a policy, you know, but it has to be related to something that positively affects the potential losses of the group, so that, you know, we're following the regulations of the state and not offering credits, you know, without providing proper justification.
And, and also a little bit of what Kevin's mentioning, obviously, what do we have to do? We have to identify that if someone wants to become part of that community, part of that group, there needs to be value for that. So rather than just as Kevin had mentioned talking price, which is limited in some aspects, right. So what else do we do? Right. And so that goes into some of the services that, that we're able to provide not just from an underwriting standpoint, but also from claims, audit, IPWW services, all the things that we bring that are individual departments, but also the individual people, the folks that we have, our colleagues are very knowledgeable about the market industries that we are involved in. But the reality is that we have expertise in this area so that when you're talking about a particular type of machinery or a process or an environment that they're in, our folks, our colleagues know what that is all about, and they can have an appropriate conversation around that as we move forward.
Okay. Yeah. So I appreciate that. That's great. Because it leads kind of right into the next thing that I wanted to talk about. Right. All carriers claim that they provide great service, but we know for those of us that work here, that's kind of what we hang our hat on. Right. Our good service is demanded and delivered every day across the board. So, I want get a little bit more specific, right. And talk about our service package known as A.I.M. Vantage and how it can be customized for each one of those affinity groups. Dan, you want to give us a go with that.
Yeah. You know what, let me kind of give the highlights of that.
So what we do with A.I.M. Vantage is I would break it down into what I'll refer to as buckets. It's our suite of services that involve medical management. So as claims occur, as I was referring to before, the folks that we have in the claims area are knowledgeable about what businesses are doing. So when, when you're talking about return to work, when you're talking about the medical needs of the individuals, you know, they know who the physicians are, they know who the surgeons are. They know what the tasks are that are associated with particular jobs and functions so that when you're talking about work capacities and the return to work program, they're aware and they're knowledgeable about that. We've got patient advocates, we've got a pharmacy management system, job fit analysis. There there's just a number of services in that medical management bucket that are advantageous to be a part of as a member, as a policyholder for the various businesses that are out there. We also have our injury prevention worksite wellness department. I'd like to break that up into really two buckets because although it's one department within our organization, the functions of what happens within that area are very different. The injury prevention involves, you know, a variety of consultative services, ongoing evaluations, productivity around metrics and monitoring performance; there's vendors, there's mobile apps, there's industrial hygiene services that we help connect policyholders with. So all of that fits into that kind of safety bucket. And then the wellness bucket really is around how do you make people healthier? How do you create an individual that's better at performing that job because they're physically and mentally more capable of doing that than just showing up at work and fogging up the mirror because they're breathing today, right?
You want more out of that. You want that person to become better, even going outside of an organization and connecting them with AIM, the Associated Industries Massachusetts which is an organization that talks about public policy and advocacy around that, employer services, HR resources, the networking opportunities, all of those things really fit into our A.I.M. Vantage bucket. And being a part of A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Companies is where that advantage comes in. Because again, not just the services, but the colleagues that are delivering those services.
Yeah. So this has all been like a common theme since, you know, as long as I've been with the company is we need to differentiate ourselves from other carriers. Right. And these are the ways that we, that we really do it. Kevin, you talked a little bit earlier about how there's already affinity groups out there. Right. So we encourage brokers to get in touch if they have an affiliation with a particular market sector or a group; we've identified some market groups ourselves, like you said. What's going on for 2022. Can you kind of elaborate on what we're doing looking forward?
So yeah, I'm not going to give up the trade secrets, right. I'm not going to tell you what groups we're looking at.
I saw you said dairy farms we going to be looking at ?
Yes. Right. <laugh> oh, so many different ones, fireworks manufacturers! There you go. So, I am, you know, sort of kidding around about that, but we do have a strategy for identifying potential new groups. One is to approach brokers and let them know that we're interested in this type of business. You know, we talked about the advantages to brokers and to their clients, to the insureds, but obviously there's an advantage to us well. One, you know, it helps us provide targeted services to those particular groups. It does help reduce claims, in our experience. And also it is the opportunity for us to also bring in business, not in a sort of onesy-twosy way, but to bring in multiple new policyholders, at one time, which helps us on the revenue side.
So, you know, the groups that we have identified through agents, agents have contacted us and said, we have groups that we'd like you to look at. But also, really any group that already fits within our underwriting appetite is a group we're interested in. So if you go through our list of what our underwriting appetite is--you can go through any, all of those groups and find industry groups within those categories. So, you know, I would say it's fair to say that anything that fits our appetite is a group that we're interested in looking at and perhaps using the power of that group to benefit all the parties.
Well, and with that, Kevin, I think it's also important to point out that some of the groups that we have are throughout New England. I mean, we're looking at these groups regardless of where they're geographically located, right. We've got Vermont, we've got Massachusetts, we've got New Hampshire. So, you know, to get groups up in Maine, down in Connecticut, you know, wherever they may be, we're willing to go because we've got, we've got personnel, we've got colleagues that are based around New England now. And from a service standpoint, we're capable of going there. So I think that's an important thing that can, again, differentiate ourselves from some other carriers to have the personnel where we need to be. And, you know, if we've got time in the field and if we've got face time with individuals, rather than just the virtual Zoom world that everyone is used to and see what the business looks like, then again, I feel that's an advantage that we, that we can present.
It's a great point. Right. We talked a lot about Massachusetts, but it's not just Massachusetts.
Yeah. So, yeah. I mean, just to give you some context. Yes. About three quarters of our business right now is in Massachusetts. About, I would say five years ago that was as much as say 90%. So, you know, we definitely are targeting other states for growth; we love Massachusetts, don't get me wrong. You know, that's where the bread is buttered. But it's also good to diversify and get into some of these other states and see if there's opportunities there. And, these affinity groups are one way of potentially doing that.
Awesome. Well, Kevin, Dan, thanks very much. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today about this topic. It's been great, very informative. I also want to thank our listeners for tuning in and remind them that you can reach out any time with thoughts or questions you might have. We can keep this conversation going and you can check out all of our A.I.M. Mutual podcasts on our website or Apple Podcasts or Spotify. So Kevin, Dan, thanks again. Really appreciate it,
Mark. Thank you.
Mark. You nailed it. <laugh>
<laugh> Way to butter up the host, way to go, guys. We'll talk soon. All right.