Thursday, December 16, 2021
By Mark Lawrence
2021 was a great year for HM Insurance Group (HM).Despite the continued effects of the pandemic, our team has continued to thrive and work to provide great service to our broker partners and TPAs as well as our shared clients.
A year ago today, in the US, we were averaging about 210,000 new COVID cases per day (and that number was increasing significantly). With no vaccines available, the economy was largely locked down. Today, we are averaging about 120,000 new COVID cases per day (which is, unfortunately, rising again).And although there have been two new variants of the COVID-19 virus over the past 12 months, on the plus side, more than 99 percent of Americans aged 65 and older and 71 percent of all Americans have at least one dose of the vaccine. In December 2020, those numbers were 0 percent and 0 percent. The economy is not fully open, but it is functioning much better than it was a year ago.
During 2021, we were able to resume some, though not all, of our “normal” business travel. After more than 12 months of not seeing our employees and clients (other than by Zoom or Teams), I started coming into the office to see a few of my colleagues and was able to travel to see some of our business partners and broker clients. I have to admit, before the pandemic, I thought business travel was a bit of pain and not all that fun (I’d been traveling regularly for about 25 years in a row at that point). I didn’t realize, until it was taken away, that traveling freely is a great privilege, and I do enjoy spending time face-to-face with our clients.
Our business performed very well during 2021. We will end up paying about $600,000,000 in Stop Loss claims during 2021. More than 99 percent of these are paid within five business days. Our Claims team has been very responsive to the needs of our clients. While this has been a difficult period for business, we have stepped up and done our part. HM helps American businesses finance their health care claims, and while the economy has been challenging for many companies, we have helped by paying claims quickly and accurately.
As we look at the impact of the pandemic, in 2021 we paid $39,000,000 in claims where COVID-19 was the primary driver of the claim. If you had asked me last year at this time what HM was expecting to pay in COVID-19 related claims, my answer would have been much less than $39,000,000. So, while many of you will be stunned to learn that I don’t have a perfect (or even pretty good) ability to predict the future, HM Insurance Group’s excellent financial strength (supported by A ratings from AM Best and a very strong reserve position) has allowed our company to weather these claims well and remain strongly positioned to meet our continued financial obligations across the board.
On the Underwriting and Sales side, we’ve provided a great deal of flexibility to employers who have been making decisions regarding their workforces. In many instances, we waived actively at work and other policy provisions to allow employers to maintain benefits for their employees during a time of economic uncertainty. Our ability to adapt to this unique business environment and see beyond the strict provisions of our policies and underwriting guidelines enabled us to help employers maintain health coverage for tens of thousands of employees and their families during the pandemic.
Our Underwriting and Sales teams also have worked well together during this time to help grow our business, despite an array of challenges. In fact, in terms of percentage, HM Insurance Group had our largest growth of overall business volume of any time during the last 10 years. That is a testament to the quality of HM’s Stop Loss product, the hard work of our team and the value our clients see in what we do.Other internal metrics, like policy issuance and underwriting turnaround times have improved over the last 12 months. Our teams have adapted in numerous ways in 2021, enabling us to work harder and smarter for our clients.
Things are not yet back to normal, and I don’t think they will be any time soon. While I believe the threat from the pandemic will lessen during the next 12 months, it seems unlikely it will go to zero. Regardless of what happens with the pandemic, the way we work has changed, and that change will be long-lasting.
Many of our employees have worked from home for the last 21 months and have been equally or even more effective in fulfilling their roles in that non-traditional setting, and they would like to continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. As long as our business continues to perform well – that’s fine. However, there will be times when our teams will need to come together in person, and that also will be a “normal” expectation.
For our people who are client-facing (me included), we need to meet directly with our clients (brokers, TPAs and strategic partners). While we started doing that again in the middle of 2021, I am hopeful that we will be able to do more of that in 2022 if it is safe to do so.
Toward the end of March 2022, we are planning to resume our HM National Sales Conference, which will be held at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua in Maui. Our team is working hard to make sure that we have a safe and fun event for those who have qualified. I am looking forward to seeing many of our clients and business partners in what is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth.
HM’s performance during 2021 speaks to the hard work, ingenuity and resilience of our people, and, I think, more broadly, many of those same characteristics apply to the American economy. We have taken a number of shots over the past 21 months, but we are recovering, getting better and moving forward. To each of our broker clients, business partners and group customers, we are thankful for our relationship throughout 2021. I wish you and your families a joyful, healthy and prosperous start to 2022. Happy holidays!
A strong, experienced carrier, HM responds to market changes and works with clients to ensure their coverage needs are met through expert risk assessment and exceptional delivery of benefits.