We spent much of the first quarter of 2022 on the road participating in a variety of wood association trade shows and meetings, as well as visiting customers and prospective clients. It was great to be back out and about! The message I heard loud and clear from most of those I spoke with throughout the country is that business is strong and in some cases even “booming.”
PLM enjoyed a successful first quarter, with new business exceeding expectations and renewal retentions soaring. Quite a bit of our new business came from last minute opportunities presented to us when a competitor surprised the client with “terms and conditions” that were simply unacceptable, forcing the client to shop their coverage immediately before the renewal date. There are two points I want to make. First, PLM sends renewal quotes to our brokers fairly early in the renewal process (additionally, if for some reason we need to part company with an insured, we send those notices out early as well). You and your clients have too much on your plate to deal with last minute surprises from PLM or any insurance company. Second, we were able to respond to these last-minute opportunities, and in many cases were successful in securing the business. It was, and is, surprising how many of these new accounts were clients we have insured before and that left us for greener (no pun intended) pastures and are now returning home to PLM.
We are enjoying outstanding renewal retention that we believe is an affirmation of the faith and confidence our customers place in us and our ability to help them manage their risk. Our customer retention is now just under 95%, the highest I’ve seen at PLM or any place I have worked during my long career.
January and February results were profitable and much improved over the first two months of 2021. On the other hand, March was indeed unkind to us with several large fires reported and a significant number of reserve increases on auto and general liability claims. Weather played a much smaller role this year as we escaped the winter season relatively unscathed.
Loss Control and Business Development Representatives worked diligently through the first quarter helping insureds improve their risk management capability. We spent a lot of time working with people on auto fleet safety which has become almost a continuous activity over the last several years.
A drop in new claims activity was indeed a bright spot for us. Unfortunately, particularly in the auto and general liability area, the severity of claims settlements and awards juries are handing out is offsetting the benefit of this trend of lower claim frequency.
Our webinar series has resumed, and we recently featured a webinar for insureds on “Anytime Risk Management,” an online loss control survey that puts our insureds in control of the risk management review process. This program gives them the opportunity, any time they want, to walk their premises and prepare a report via their smart phone or tablet. That report can be uploaded for review by one of our loss control reps. They will later reach out to the insured and provide their professional analysis of the walkthrough. While it is not intended to replace visits to insureds’ premises by PLM, it is intended to supplement their current safety practices by giving them easy access to our risk management expertise.
We congratulate two of our younger colleagues, Chase Luffey (underwriter) and Matt Kienholz (regulatory manager), for concluding their studies and earning CPCU designations during the first quarter. Their efforts, and those of almost every PLM employee to continue their education guarantees insureds and brokers will have the opportunity to work with world class members of the PLM team when the need arises.
Cyberattacks remain a focus, and we were pleased with the effort by all our employees who have been involved in a continuous training program on this topic. We work closely with an outside cyber security consultant and encourage all our insureds and brokers to gain an understanding of this area and commit to a comprehensive program to guard against cyber-related activities. It is imperative to understand wood businesses are not immune from cyberattacks. We receive a steady flow of claims in this area from our insureds, some covered by insurance, some not.
While we thought COVID had quieted down, as I write this, Philadelphia is reinstituting its mask mandate and we are seeing an increase in cases in the metro New York/Philadelphia areas. We still have not returned to the Philadelphia office. Before COVID, less than 50% of our employees worked in Philadelphia. This number continues to shrink as we try to staff underwriters closer to their assigned geographic territories and broaden our customer service staff geographically. Transactionally we have not had any significant problems in operating remotely. Our Net Promotor Scores seem to indicate we are performing well in the eyes of our stakeholders. We are looking at several different hybrid approaches to returning to the office but have not settled on any one course of action. Meanwhile, we are going to start bringing the leadership team back into the office a couple of times a month starting in late May. We also are bringing the entire team to Philadelphia for a national meeting in May. We are committed to taking our time and making COVID-related decisions that are in the best interest of all our stakeholders — our insureds, brokers, employees, their families, and PLM.
In closing, you might remember that several years ago my wife and I shaved our heads in support of St. Baldricks, the leading non-governmental supporter of childhood cancer research in the United States. Today, many organizations are coming to understand that employees are looking for them to be socially involved. We at PLM have a deep commitment to United Way and volunteering at different local organizations. Our matching gift program allows employees to give to many different charities with additional support from PLM. Every employee is given a day each year to use for community volunteering and of course we still support St. Baldricks. In fact, we have plans to reach out to our insureds, their associations, and affiliated organizations to further explore their involvement with the charity.
I look forward to the next time our paths may cross. In the meantime, we wish you much success. Should you have any questions, thoughts, or comments please reach out to me at email@example.com or 267-825-9246.
Producer Update: Issue 2 – 2022
IN THIS ISSUE:
- President’s Commentary
- Cyber Corner: Don’t Become a Victim, Know the Tactics
- The True Cost of Success
- Plumb Safety: Preparing Your Business for Hurricane Season
- The Dovetail: Good News: You’re Busy. Bad News: You’re Vulnerable
- Spotlight On: Kristin Wilson Promotion
- Spotlight On: Upcoming Events List
- Recent Wins