Hierl Insurance Introduces Private Exchange Marketplace for Small and Large Group Employers

United Benefit Advisors® (UBA), the nation’s leading independent employee benefits advisory organization, has announced the launch of two new platforms for private insurance exchange marketplace available exclusively through Hierl Insurance Inc.  With rising costs, employers everywhere are seeking a more efficient way to provide benefits to their employees.  Until now, employers had two options – provide a traditional group medical plan or no coverage at all.  Now there is a better option for many employers.

Based on a defined contribution model, Benefits Passport, powered by Hanna Global Solutions (HGS), will serve large group employers (more than 50 employees). and provide a full suite of services such as online enrollment, an employee contact center, accounting, payroll deduction reporting and billing. Benefits Passport is an open source program that can support all major insurance carriers as well as any carrier with a standard data feed. Benefits Passport is an affordable insurance option to help employers reduce costs, increase efficiency, simplify administration and provide exceptional value to employees in the face of health care reform.

Benefitbay is an online platform created to give an alternative to group insurance for small businesses and associations (less than 50 employees) by providing higher value medical and ancillary benefits previously unavailable to small employers.  Benefitbay pulls together the best carriers in each market and allows maximum choice, easy administration and cost savings.  By choosing benefitbay, an employer can continue to offer the same benefit contributions; employees are offered a choice of health care plans from different carriers and benefitbay helps them sort their choices.

“The UBA private insurance exchanges offer a streamlined health insurance solution that mitigates the burden of administration and compliance risk for our clients while making it easier for their employees to shop, understand and choose their benefits package,” says Scott Smeaton, Vice President Benefits.

The online exchanges set to be available through Hierl Insurance Inc this spring, will allow employees to buy health care insurance from a choice of carriers, with monthly premiums and employers making defined contributions to pick up part of the tab. For large employers, the monthly premiums may be made with pre-tax dollars.  Benefit offerings include major medical and pharmacy, as well as ancillary (or voluntary) benefits such as dental, vision, life, disability and critical illness. Wellness programs will also be available and customer care support is provided for all participants.

Thom Mangan, UBA CEO states, “Like all things UBA, we decided to create unique and proprietary products exclusive for our UBA Partner Firms to better serve their clients. The self-service platform provides employees an opportunity to compare plans and make more informed decisions based on their health care and financial situation, making them better consumers.”

If you have questions or simply want to learn more about Benefitbay or Benefits Passport, Contact Hierl Insurance Inc.


About United Benefit Advisors
United Benefit Advisors is the nation’s leading independent employee benefits advisory organization with more than 200 offices throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Visit www.UBAbenefits.com.

Vice President of Hierl Attends James K. Ruble Graduate Seminar

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, July 23, 2013 – Cathleen Christensen, Vice President of Hierl Insurance, Inc. of Fond du Lac, has successfully completed the annual continuing education requirement of the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors and Certified Risk Managers International.

To earn these prestigious designations, Christensen attended ten courses covering all phases of the insurance and risk management business and passed all necessary examinations.  Additionally, the National Alliance requires annual attendance in the program to maintain the designations. 

Christensen, a 25 year veteran of the industry, has been a CIC since 2009 and a CRM since 2012.  Christensen believes the insurance and risk management professions are best served by those who acquire and maintain a high standard of professionalism by meeting the continuing education requirements of the Certified Insurance Counselors and Certified Risk Managers Programs.

Certified Risk Managers International is a nonprofit organization founded by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, nationally recognized as the premier source of insurance and risk management education.  To attain the CRM designation, Ms. Christensen completed all five courses in the program and passed extensive examinations in each of the following subject areas: Principles of Risk Management, Analysis of Risk, Control of Risk, Financing of Risk, andPractice of Risk Management.  The CRM Program features practical, “hands-on” course content, designed to be applied immediately to the risk manager’s daily work.

Due to the advanced level of the curricula, the CRM designation has gained national esteem and recognition since its origination in 1995.  “The CRM designation recognizes and confirms the higher level of knowledge and professional distinction that Ms. Christensen has achieved in the field of risk management,” stated William T. Hold, Ph.D., CIC, CPCU, CLU, President of CRM International.

Christensen, is the Vice President/Property & Casualty Division for Hierl Insurance, Inc. She has been with Hierl since 1990 and currently holds the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation.  She specializes in working with businesses to build and retain value and protect their businesses and profits.  

For more information visit:  www.hierl.com or contact Ona Pollom at 920-921-5921

Compliance News

Original article from United Benefit Advisors

May was a busy month for compliance news, and UBA -- specifically, UBA Chief Compliance Officer Linda Rowings -- was up to the task of keeping Partners informed.

PPACA Employee Guide

UBA has created an overview of the employee's responsibility to purchase coverage under PPACA (the individual mandate) and on the basics of the exchanges.  The information in this piece is basic, but should provide a starting place for employers who want to educate their employees on this law.Because PPACA is complicated, and employee eligibility for tax credits through the exchanges is dependent on the employer's decisions about plan design, a "one size fits all" approach to employee education does not seem workable.  To try to address immediate questions that may arise from the basic guide, we have prepared two supplements to address whether the coverage provided by the employer will satisfy the "minimum essential" requirement and to begin to educate on how the plan and the exchange will interact.  Essentially, if the employer expects to offer affordable, minimum value coverage, employees may enroll in the exchange instead, but will not be eligible for tax credits/premium subsidies.  These employers should use Supplement A.  If the employer expects to offer coverage that does not meet affordability or minimum value, eligibility for tax credits/premium subsidies (and reduced cost sharing) becomes an area of interest.  These employers should use Supplement B.  Employers with employees who may be eligible for subsidies or Medicaid likely should plan to send these individuals to the exchanges for assistance rather than trying to provide extensive assistance themselves, as the rules are quite complicated, and would require the employer to access information about household income that it probably does not want.

We recognize that there are many situations that Supplements A and B do not cover - you should be able to mix and match the information in them to address most situations. HHS refers to the exchanges as the "Health Insurance Marketplace" in the model exchange notices, so we have used that term in the employee piece.

Decision GuidesThe Decision Guides have been updated to include recent changes and clarifications with respect to the maximum eligibility waiting period, minimum value requirements, individual mandate rules and SHOP exchange options.  They have also been updated to include the 2014 maximum out-of-pocket figures, to correct typos in the PCORI dates, and to delete the reference to a maximum deductible in the individual exchange.  These changes affect the versions for small, midsize and large employers.  The executive summary had no changes and therefore has not been updated.

2014 HSA LimitsThe 2014 HSA Limits piece has been updated to clarify that the out-of-pocket maximum required under PPACA does not apply to grandfathered plans.  (It will be possible to retain grandfathered status after January 2014 if the plan continues to meet grandfathering requirements.)

Rules on Wellness Programs Under PPACAUBA also released a PPACA Advisor Alert that addresses how wellness programs must operate under PPACA beginning in 2014. In many respects, the final rules carry forward rules that have been in effect for wellness programs since 2006, and most of the updates that were proposed last November have been adopted.

PPACA Summary

Since the last monthly update, the agencies have issued model notices regarding the exchange/ marketplace. On April 26, the IRS re-released the notice that says that employers that issued fewer than 250 W-2s in the prior calendar year or that participate in multiemployer plans do not need to report health care costs until further notice, so it is highly unlikely this information will be required on 2013 W-2s.More information on all these topics can be found on HCR Central.

Branding Campaign Update

Original article from United Benefit Advisors

UBA has gone from being the "hunter" to being the "hunted."

In the past 45 days, media interest in UBA has increase to as many as 7-10 inquiries per week. This is a direct result of the digital strategy to position UBA as thought leaders and knowledge experts. Website traffic has increased dramatically (up 500 percent since the start of the campaign, an average of 17,000 visits per month) and resulted in the media contacting UBA and Partner Firms for interviews opportunities.

Media traction, especially recently, has been very exciting. We have secured more than 250 placements in top publications, reaching nearly 1 million online, print or in-person views. In other publications, we have received, on average, 300,000 views.

In the past five weeks alone, UBA has received five-plus interview opportunities for articles per week, many of those including Partner Firms. A few of these include: the LBL Group, HORAN, Russ Blakely, Cornerstone, Mountain West, Swartz Insurance Group. Mesirow Financial, Borislow Insurance, the Bagnall Company, Connelly, Carlisle, Fields & Nichols, Dwight Andrus and others.Here are a few other facts about our website using Google and HubSpot analytics:

  • The website traffic number for February, March, and April 2013 averaged 17,000 visits respectively. At our one-year milestone we will reach 150,000 visits. UBA's marketing grade ranges from 81-86, catching up to Willis and Mercer and surpassing Lockton, Marsh McClennan, Brown and Brown, NFP, Gallagher, USI  and even AON. Marketing Grade is HubSpot's ranking system for scoring websites based on how a site engages traffic with content, number of inbound links, indexed pages and  traffic: 20,000-plus blog views.
  • 1,250 social media posts
  • More than 2,000 contact forms
  • UBA's Mozilla rank (which is a very difficult-to-move, highly respected website ranking system reflecting link authority and popularity) went from 5.1 to 5.6-5.7, which is on par with or exceeds Willis, Lockton, Brown and Brown, NFP or Gallagher.
  • Gallagher, Willis and Lockton are excelling at Facebook and Twitter, so efforts to leverage Partners to "like" and "retweet" UBA should be prioritized. Similarly, UBA will reciprocate with Partners.
You can view the detailed monthly report on the PR campaign page HERE, and download the PR Campaign results document HERE.

Survey Deadline Extended

Original article from United Benefit Advisors

UBA's Health Plan Survey deadline has been extended, and our Ancillary Survey is nearing completion.

UBA Partners have currently entered nearly 4,000 employers into the survey data collection tool, but we have a long way to go to guarantee that the survey continues to be one of the most valuable assets that differentiates Partners from their competition. To ensure that the 2013 survey meets or exceeds previous results, UBA is extending the survey data entry deadline one week: The original deadline of June 7 is being extended to midnight, June 14, 2013.

With the collective efforts of UBA Partner Firms, the UBA 2013 Health Plan Survey is destined to be the largest survey on record. Please take time to get your health plans entered today so UBA can keep this important tool on schedule!

You may access the survey tool HERE.
Ancillary Survey Nears CompletionUBA's external technology vendor has experienced several data collection and programming complications associated with this new survey. The technology team has identified the issues and solutions are in place to get the survey back on track.

The UBA Ancillary Survey deliverables and marketing packages are scheduled for distribution mid- to late July 2013. UBA will be updating Partners as we near completion so that you can prepare to announce the results of this exclusive survey to your clients and prospects.

2013 Spring Meeting Recap

Original article from United Benefit Advisors

Changes in today's benefits industry are zipping by in a blur, and Hierl Insurance must keep their eyes on emerging trends and be ready to alter their business strategies in a blink of an eye. With that in mind, UBA's annual Spring Meeting at the O'Hare Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago saw new ideas and best practices shared, to help Partner Firms succeed in a rapidly moving benefits landscape.

Highlights included a keynote address by Joel Wood of CIAB, and very well-attended discussions on PPACA, headlined by Linda Rowings, UBA's Chief Compliance Officer. In addition, Partners took advantage of information on stop loss coverage, exchanges, recruiting and selling techniques, UBA's new AdEase marketing tool and much more.

The annual presentation of the "Ubbie" Awards was also made. The four awards, as well as a newly-created fifth award for the UBA Staff Member of the Year, recognize outstanding performance during the previous year. Mary Drueke took home the Staff Member of the Year, while Mark Gaunya received the Partner of the Year Award. Mountain West Benefit Solutions was recognized as the Partner Firm of the Year, and Symetra Life Insurance Co. was named the Strategic Partner of the Year.

Linda Rowings, UBA's Chief Compliance Officer, was the recipient of the first-ever UBA Staff Member of the Year award.

Several door prizes also were given away. Winners were: UNUM Lobster for two: Jeffrey Evans (Employee Benefit Resources); HR Service Inc. $50 cash: Krys Reid (Tower Benefits Consultants); Colonial Life 8" Android Tablet: Vicki Getner (Pappas Financial); Mutual of Omaha Kindle Fire: Bob Berk (Reames); Touchpoints & Blueprint Selling HDMI pocket projector: Mark Schwendenan (Schwendenan Agency); Sun Life Kindle Fire: Larry Kitts (Horizon Agency); The Standard Kindle: Dan Berndt (ClearPath Benefit Advisors); Principal iPad Mini: Brad Graffius (Commonwealth Benefit Advisors).

The next UBA meeting will be Sept. 8-10, also at the Intercontinental. For a full meeting recap, including a photo slideshow, videos and PowerPoint presentation downloads, visit this page on the Wisdom Network.

Press Release: Hierl Insurance Gains new Shareholders and Corporate Officers

Mike Hierl, President of Hierl Insurance Inc. is pleased to announce that Cathleen Christensen and Susan Henderson are now company shareholders and corporate officers.

Cathleen Christensen,Vice President, Property & Casualty, with Hierl Insurance Inc. is Corporate Treasurer.  Christensen has been with Hierl since 1990 and holds the Certified Insurance Counselor and Certified Risk Manager designations.  She specializes in working with businesses to build and retain value and protect their businesses and profits.

Susan HendersonVice President, Human Resources & Operations, with Hierl Insurance Inc. and Corporate Secretary,  has been with Hierl since 2007 and has a Master’s degree in business/human resources.  She also has SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) certification and works with client companies on human resource and benefits issues.

Locally owned since 1919, Hierl Insurance has been serving businesses in the area of Property/Casualty as well as the Employee Benefits market. Hierl Insurance is also a member-owner of United Benefit Advisors (UBA), a professional organization of over 140 benefit firms across the United States.  Contact Us

NCCI Changes Primary-Excess Split Point for 2013

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recently announced its plan to make a change in the experience rating formula. The primary-excess split point will be increased over a three-year transition period. The first stage of the transition will take effect with each state’s approved rate and loss cost filing on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

Understanding the Primary-Excess Split 

In the experience rating process, each loss is divided into a primary and excess portion. Currently, the first $5,000 of every loss is allocated as a primary loss, with everything over and above considered an excess loss. For example, a $3,000 loss has no excess value. On the other hand, a loss of $15,000 would have $5,000 in primary losses as well as $10,000 in excess losses. Primary losses are used as an indicator of frequency, and are counted in full as part of the mod calculation. Conversely, excess losses receive partial weight in the mod calculation. This means that primary losses affect the mod more than excess losses do. The rationale behind assessing primary and excess loss amounts is that “severity follows frequency,” or in other words, an organization that displays a continual pattern of loss has an increased chance of a severe loss in the future. Thus, a company with a large number of primary losses will have a higher mod than a company with the same amount of losses split between primary and excess.

Upcoming Changes

NCCI has announced a proposal to raise the split point from $5,000 to $15,000 over a three year period to better correlate with claim inflation, which affects the experience rating plan. Many states have already approved this change to take effect with their annual rate and loss cost filing in 2013; other states are still pending. The split point will also be indexed for claim inflation in the third and subsequent years of this transition. These changes will directly affect the 34 states and the District of Columbia currently using the NCCI’s rating system. The independent rating bureaus of Indiana, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin have also adopted the change, and other independent bureaus (Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas) may re-evaluate their split points as well. The rating methods used by California, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania differ widely from NCCI’s approach, so similar changes in those states are not anticipated.

How Does This Affect My Organization?

Whether your mod increases or decreases will depend on whether you have an above or below average number of losses under the split point. If most of your losses are under $5,000, you are likely to see a decrease in your mod. If many of your losses exceed $5,000, you should prepare for an increase in your mod.

Analysts expect the split point change to result in a wider range of mods across each industry. Debit mods (those over 1.0) will tend to gain points; credit mods (those under 1.0) will more than likely see a decrease in points. Furthermore, many employers will see their minimum mod, or loss-free rating, decrease.

Another minor change which will take effect with the split point change is an adjustment to the maximum debit mod formula which caps debit mods based on state and employer size. NCCI reports that the cap applies to only 2% of employers. As a result of this change, small risks who reach the cap may see their mod increase while larger risks may see their capped mod decrease.

It’s important to remember that NCCI’s goal is to have the industry-wide average modification factor be 1.00. Along with the split point change, NCCI will adjust other factors affecting the formula so that the average mod across all employers does not change.

Preparing for Change

Although no one knows exactly what a future mod will be until all payroll, losses and rates are available, we can work with you to project how your organization’s mod-and premium- may be affected by these rule changes. Preparing for the shift will be especially important for companies that are required to maintain a certain mod in order to bid on jobs or contracts. It is essential to address and control losses and become familiar with your loss profile so your organization will be prepared when the NCCI experience rating change takes effect.

Effective Dates of New Split Point Method

The following states use NCCI or very similar rating methodology and therefore may approve the split point change; if noted, the following states have announced a firm date to enact changes (as of May 8, 2012):

  • Alabama – March 1, 2013
  • Alaska – Jan. 1, 2013 (5)
  • Arizona – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Arkansas – July 1, 2013
  • Colorado  - Jan. 1, 2013
  • Connecticut – Jan. 1, 2013
  • District of Columbia – Nov. 1, 2013
  • Florida
  • Georgia – March 1, 2013 (4)
  • Hawaii – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Idaho - Jan. 1, 2013
  • Illinois – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Indiana (1) – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Iowa - Jan. 1, 2013
  • Kansas – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Kentucky – Oct. 1, 2013
  • Louisiana – May 1, 2013 (4)
  • Maine – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Maryland – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Massachusetts (1)
  • Michigan (2)
  • Minnesota (2) – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Mississippi – March 1, 2013
  • Missouri
  • Montana- July 1, 2013
  • Nebraska – Feb. 1, 2013
  • Nevada – March 1, 2013
  • New Hampshire – Jan.1, 2013
  • New Mexico – Jan. 1, 2013
  • New York (2) – Oct. 1, 2013 (3)
  • North Carolina (1) – Apr. 1, 2013
  • Oklahoma – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Oregon – Jan.1, 2013
  • Rhode Island – June 1, 2013
  • South Carolina – July 1, 2013
  • South Dakota – July 1, 2013
  • Tennessee – March 1, 2013
  • Texas (2)
  • Utah – Dec. 1, 2013
  • Vermont – Apr. 1, 2013
  • Virginia – Apr. 1, 2013
  • West Virginia – Nov. 1, 2013
  • Wisconsin (2) – Oct. 1, 2013


(1) State has independent bureau but interstate-rates under NCCI rules

(2) State has independent bureau

(3) NY has indicated the 2013 split point will be 10,000; subsequent split point changes are anticipated but to be determined

(4) As of March 29, 2012, GA and LA are expected to also implement the ERA (experience rating adjustment) of medical-only losses on their next filing date, although this is not yet officially approved.

(5) As of April 27, 2012, Alaska is expected to implement the ERA (experience rating adjustment) of medical-only losses on their next filing date, although this is not yet officially approved. Alaska will also be removing its former state rule exception to the maximum debit mod formula so that the new national formula will apply.