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Our Local Presence
Manage Every Opportunity Wisely
Tracy L. Stoeckel Senior Vice President, Agribusiness
2023 brought many opportunities and challenges for the Agribusiness (Ag) team.
Carefully leading and managing through the change was critical for success. Thus, the acronym MEOW is featured in our headline. Coined by Ag Underwriting Director, Josh Newell, it became our team motto.
From a growth perspective, 2023 was a record year. The team finished with a record-high direct written premium of $138 million, which exceeded plan by $4 million. In addition, with the support of our agency partners, we also accomplished our goal of writing over $11.7 million in new business.
Our retention was also positive at 90% while we continued our focus on rate-strengthening vulnerable lines of business. Due to elevated claim activity in our property line primarily due to weather-related events, we found it necessary to amend our underwriting strategy in an effort to improve our profitability in the future. Effectively communicating this change to our teammates and agency partners was critical for gaining their support and trust.
Given our commitment to excellence, our pursuit to continue expanding and growing our team was also successful. We added talent at our underwriting and risk control levels in addition to expanding our marketing efforts with a new business development specialist and manager. We embraced the opportunity to host an “Ag Team Week” in October in Sarasota wherein all Ag teammates throughout the country participated collaboratively in teambuilding/training and experienced the “Day in the Life” exercise to spotlight how our processes and roles interact for a common purpose.
Our relationships with our agency partners continued to grow and flourish. Several new Agents' Advisory Council members joined the team. Their expertise and experience are critical for helping us understand the rapidly changing Ag marketplace.
In all, 2023 was a year to celebrate. I am personally proud of our resilient Ag teammates and partners. I am confident that the seeds of change we planted this year will allow us to continue to focus on providing excellent service and products that will support our agency partners and Ag policyholders in the future.
Persistency Leads
to Consistency
Tiffany C. Hawkins Senior Vice President, Gulf Coast Region
Our corporate theme, Commitment to Excellence, paved the way for our region’s personal theme, which was “persistency.” We demonstrated this by having a year of profitable growth while upholding underwriting discipline and staying financially strong. We want to leave no doubt about who we are and what we deliver as a company because we want to be our agent's first choice for commercial insurance coverage. This year, the emphasis was on developing and elevating the skilled individuals that make up the Gulf Coast Region. How did we do that? Lead by example. Our teammates are committed to great service, and we do that by being available, responsive and following through. We want agencies to see the value that we bring as a company. We spent a lot of time on our Agency Partnership Preparation training, sharing with our teammates how to be truly prepared for agency visits and have a sales focus. We reviewed various scenarios and how to have specific conversations that breed success. We also conducted many best-in-class business presentations to ensure our underwriters know what to look for and help them grow. We want to ensure we do our part to enhance agency relationships. This year, we focused on writing more workers’ compensation and shifting to that mindset. Our challenges centered on getting more workers’ compensation written among heavy competition. There are so many carriers that want to write it. We took that challenge, flipped it around and made it an opportunity.
Financially speaking, our year-end direct written premium goal was $147.6 million, and we came in at $159.9 million. Our new business goal was $18.8 million, and we came in at $19.8 million. We are in an industry that only has one thing that’s consistent: change. So, as new challenges and risks emerge, we want to stay focused on forward thinking. I’m so proud of how the team responded to all we asked of them. We want our agency partners to see us as a consistent, steady and stable market they can depend on. Earning our agents’ trust is always a great motivator. One thing I kept sharing with the team is to leave a “no doubt” kind of mentality as we build new relationships and foster existing ones. Leave no doubt as to who we are at FCCI. Looking ahead into 2024, our focus will be consistency, which will be our battle cry. As we move forward, consistency will be our key to continued success.
The Pursuit of Excellence
Michael S. Noble Senior Vice President, Florida-Georgia Region
Our commitment to excellence in the Florida-Georgia Region was demonstrated by our history of continued profitability in 2023. For the fifth consecutive year, our combined ratio was under 100%, which is quite unprecedented for our company. We were the first region to exceed $400 million in direct written premium, achieving that in November and ending 2023 at $442 million. We demonstrated excellence by surpassing our goals financially, maintaining underwriting discipline and developing our future leaders and teammates.
We are a team of 75, and we held several product training courses to reinforce the quality we want to embody. At the root of our success is our ability to provide prompt and effective solutions. We have a very collaborative team with a wealth of knowledge and empathy that we bring to our agents and policyholders in the two states, which helps them succeed.
Florida’s Pursuit of Excellence
We continued to build on Florida’s previous success and the momentum created in the last five years. Profitability has followed because everything we do is disciplined and strategic. That would not be achieved without our teammates. We have a personal 1:1 initiative with all the teammates, and that is part of a professional development movement that resulted in 25 teammates promoted into leadership roles. Everything we do is tailored around the idea of excellence. Florida sets records!
Our direct written renewal premium was $374 million, and our new business was $67 million, which was a record for any state with FCCI. Financial strength is paramount because it forms the bedrock of stability and reliability while also instilling confidence.
In addition to financial strength, engaging with agents has been very important to FCCI. By fostering strong partnerships, we not only amplify our reach but also benefit from their expertise in customer acquisition and retention.
“From a claim perspective, we were able to hit that 100% closing ratio by closing claims and bringing that cost down,” said Monty Henderson, Assistant Vice President, Claims. “Those are claims on which we will not need to continue to incur legal expenses as we move forward.”
“It’s the collaboration among underwriting, claims, audit and risk control teammates – we aren’t siloed. Everybody’s rowing in the same direction, which doesn’t happen everywhere,” said Karen Dedering, Managing Director, Underwriting. Another highlight for 2023 was that we promoted three underwriters to supervisor positions. Developing our teammates for leadership roles is a strategic imperative because it yields long-term benefits and honing the skills they have cultivates a robust leadership pipeline. Volunteering holds a special place at FCCI. Our teammates devoted their time to supporting the Salvation Army Angel Tree program, where we matched each donation and bought toys for children. We also volunteered at the food banks in Sarasota and the surrounding areas. I’m proud to witness our teammates’ dedication to serving our community. This aligns with FCCI’s core values and reflects a deep understanding that giving back is integral to our corporate responsibility.
Georgia’s Pursuit of Excellence
Bryan Bogardus is Vice President of FCCI’s Georgia branch based in Atlanta. Bogardus launched a long-term strategic plan focused on four themes: People, Operational Excellence, Go-to-Market and Partnerships. The branch also set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure success. With the stable leadership of Bogardus, William Cooper, Director of Underwriting, Jennifer Thompson, Director of Business Development, and other teammates, the Georgia branch improved the timeliness and quality of communications and process workflow with agents. As a result, the branch doubled the number of new business quotes. These were shining examples of how Georgia lived up to our corporate theme, Commitment to Excellence.
As market conditions and competition turned in our favor, Georgia’s overall success in 2023 centered around five “Ps” - people, pricing, profitability, partnerships and production.
Solid leadership and a cohesive workforce stabilized operations and strengthened morale. During 2023, we hired a business development specialist, an underwriting manager, promoted one trainee to underwriter and welcomed two individuals into the underwriting trainee program.
In 2023, direct written renewal premium hit $67 million vs. plan of $62 million and new business topped $12 million vs. plan of $11 million. Most of Georgia’s engagements in the first half of the year were introducing new leadership and staff to our agents. In the second half of 2023, we established a Georgia Agent Task Force with eight members from key agencies across the state. These efforts translated to an 18% increase in new business submissions, which exceeded the plan and doubled the direct written premium from 2022. Georgia teammates demonstrated philanthropy and compassion by donating to charities and volunteering at events in their local community. ‘Insure the Cure’ was a signature activity where 16 teammates walked and raised $7,500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. FCCI received the Insure the Cure Impact Award, presented to a team that rallies their company around the cause. The Georgia team also raised $2,500 from employees with proceeds donated to the FCCI Charitable Foundation.
Florida-Georgia’s Focus
One of the challenges our region faced this year was automobile profitability, which is an industry-wide issue. With that, we understand all the challenges that agencies have, and we empathize with what they have to go through. We will always strive to be the best partner to help them win in the marketplace.
Looking ahead, our region is pushing toward the half-billion dollar mark. It will take a couple of years to get there, but with similar growth, I see that happening in 2026. To maintain our competitive edge, our primary focus will always be cultivating long-lasting relationships with our agency partners and policyholders because we’re darn good at it.
Building On Our Commitment to Excellence
Gregory L. Kramer Senior Vice President, Midwest Region
In 2023, we emphasized the importance of not just building a relationship with our agency partners but also creating unique connections that enable us to deepen relationships. This goes together with our focus on building our personal brands with an emphasis on ARF (being Accessible, Responsive and Following Through). This level of service not only helps us build our personal brand but also supports growing FCCI’s identity and reputation in the marketplace.
With six states in the Midwest Region (MWR), we have significant geography to cover with our teammates. We have built our local presence considerably over the years but saw additional opportunities to have an impact. By midyear 2024, we will have increased our business development role to six teammates and a manager of business development. These additional resources will not only help us cover the geography better but will also further our concentration on growing our relationships and the FCCI brand in the region.
FCCI’s culture is special, and it is evidenced by the number of long-tenured teammates we have working in the region. We have several retirements in 2024, and a couple are key leadership roles. Our commitment over the years to succession planning and career development is paying dividends now as we were able to promote from within for those leadership roles.
Our most significant business highlight in 2023 was the successful relocation of the Midwest regional office. Our new office location is a modern build-out with areas to promote collaboration, teammate engagement and camaraderie. The space provides ample training and conference rooms to conduct meetings, seminars and networking events for teammates, agents and policyholders. The facility is also equipped to serve as a key business continuity center for FCCI during catastrophic events. It is a great new space for our current MWR teammates (peeps) to thrive and an attractive home for future teammates. Undertakings of this magnitude take a village, from senior leadership to our local teammates – the support and patience were key in making the move successful.
The Midwest Region strategically grew direct written premium in our key growth states by 6% by focusing on profitability and solid risk selection. After a challenging start to the year, the last quarter of 2023 saw us build positive momentum on new business, and we ultimately exceeded new business writings by over $3 million for the same time in 2022. Another challenge was weather-related events, but they offered great opportunities for our claim and risk control service expertise to keep our promises to policyholders. Our commitment and energy, along with the additional teammates’ strategies discussed previously, have us excited for continued profitable growth in the region in 2024.
To recognize and show appreciation to our agency partners, we hosted several memorable events at exclusive locations, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and one at Wrigleyville in Chicago for a Cubs and Cardinals baseball game. The Wrigleyville event was called “The Battle of the Chairman’s Club Agencies,” and it was hosted by FCCI teammates and senior leadership to celebrate teammates from Gibson and First Mid Insurance. To name one more, we also entertained Energy Insurance, another Chairman’s Club agency, at Keeneland horse racing track.
In 2023, the MWR added 12 new agency partners, bringing the six-state region to 136 master agency codes. Our approach to new appointments continues to be strategic in support of having a geographic or business need to consider. Our commitment to franchise value for our agency partners is critical.
A key focus for us in 2024 will be to continue to improve the profitability and growth of our business with solid underwriting discipline and strong risk selection. In 2024, we also want to build upon the heritage of FCCI by growing our workers’ compensation segment of business. This line of business is our heritage, and it also gives us the best opportunity to highlight the strengths and talents of our teammates in Claims, Underwriting and Risk Control.
We are grateful for our agency partners and the confidence they have placed in FCCI and our MWR teammates. We are also thankful for the dedication and commitment to excellence of our Midwest Region Peeps … you continue to amaze and inspire!
Reigniting the Flame
Courtney V. Hart Senior Vice President, Mid-Atlantic Region
We experienced a year of change in 2023, including fully transitioning the Carolinas into the Mid-Atlantic Region. This year’s focus was on re-engaging our team and engaging more with our valued agency partners.
New business growth was at the heart of our engagement efforts with our agents, and we were successful in exceeding our new business plan of $24.5 million by writing $27.9 million! Those results helped to push the Mid-Atlantic Region to an all-time high of $119.7 million in direct written premium. What was more gratifying to see was that we experienced growth over a wider number of agents than in the past year, with over 60% of our agents writing at least $100,000 or more in new business. We did experience some challenges in 2023, primarily around maintaining profitability within our book of business. Those challenges came in the form of severity and weather-related losses and competition within the marketplace on our renewals, which impacted our retentions. While these factors resulted in lower-than-planned retention, the partnership we experienced with our agents regarding our initiatives to drive profit showed the value they put on the FCCI relationship. That value our agents see in FCCI has spread throughout our region and assisted our efforts in appointing additional agency partners throughout our five-state footprint.
These results could not have been achieved without the efforts of our phenomenal team of insurance professionals in our region. What we have strived to build in our region is a team that works cohesively and treats each other like family with mutual respect for what each brings to the team. We are proud that we have been able to keep our team together, experienced no turnovers and were able to recognize the achievement of seven teammates through promotions in 2023. We also added two new commercial lines underwriters from our Underwriting Training Program. In midyear, I announced that I would be retiring from FCCI in June of 2024. Of my 40 years in the industry, I have had eight of the most wonderful years working at FCCI and leading the Mid-Atlantic Region. I could not be more grateful to our President & CEO, Cina Welch, and our Board of Directors for giving me the chance to lead this great team. But I do leave the Mid-Atlantic Region in the very capable hands of Kevin Odberg and this outstanding team. I know that they will carry on and, together with Kevin, take this region to bigger and grander achievements in the years to come. I would also like to thank our agency partners for their partnership, counsel, and, most importantly, their friendship!
As one of FCCI's first employees in the Mid-Atlantic Region, I am pleased to announce that Kevin Odberg assumed the role of Regional Vice President on March 1, 2024, prior to the release of this publication.
Keep Climbing
Tracey Pfab Executive Vice President, Chief Regional Officer
In 2023, our corporate theme was Commitment to Excellence, and I firmly believe that our Southwest teammates delivered on that commitment in many ways!
Our teammates did an exceptional job working with our agency partners to write more than $112.5 million of commercial insurance premiums, exceeding our plan by 7.6% and delivering growth of more than $10 million over 2022. FCCI continues to be a growing force in the Southwest with our Commercial, Agribusiness and Surety teams now producing more than $140 million combined!
We continued to build an excellent staff in all areas of our business with the addition of several new, experienced teammates as well as continuing to focus on our future growth with additional underwriting trainees. FCCI is now represented by 64 teammates in our Southwest Region with plans to grow even more. Building the best team is crucial for sustained success and by bringing in individuals with diverse and fresh perspectives to complement our current team, we will continue strengthening our foundation to ensure long-term growth and resilience.
In addition to the success of our growing team, our commitment to community engagement was exemplary. The Southwest Region participated in several volunteer opportunities, reflecting our deep-rooted belief in giving back. Teammates packed food at the North Texas Food Bank, helped at multiple clothing drives and raised funds led by FCCI’s Young Professionals. Volunteerism is not just a gesture. It’s a fundamental part of who we are. It not only helps our community, but it also strengthens our bond as a team.
Our success goes beyond financial milestones. We have introduced new products and services to our agency partners and policyholders, such as a new Workers’ Compensation Dividend Program, a partnership with National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) and the implementation of FCCI’s Risk Solutions Network, which provides enhanced risk management resources and strategies. By providing competitive products and exceptional services, our plan is to continue growing our presence in the region.
In 2023, we continued strengthening relationships with our agency partners by being accessible, responsive and following through on our commitments. We held several events throughout the year to show our appreciation and enjoy some fellowship. Our agency partnerships are critical to our success. While we continue to strategically grow our number of agency partners, we remain committed to delivering the franchise value our agents are accustomed to.
Before closing, I would like to offer some thanks. To our policyholders, thank you for letting us help protect your businesses and livelihoods. To our agency partners, thank you for your partnership and for entrusting your clients to FCCI. To our teammates, thank you for representing FCCI well and delivering the exceptional experiences that we strive to provide each and every day.
2023 gave us some challenges like most years do, but FCCI and the Southwest Region have never been stronger, and we are well-positioned to continue our track record of success in 2024 and beyond.
I am pleased to introduce and welcome Ken Turnipseed as Senior Vice President of our Southwest Region on April 1, 2024, prior to the release of this publication.
Strategic Growth
Scott G. Paice Senior Vice President, Surety
To uphold our commitment to excellence, we hired talented individuals this year for our strategic growth, and, because of the development, we’ve updated our surety operating systems, which was five years in the making. We increased our limit capacity to accommodate the growth in 45 states. Our program was $20 million single and $40 million aggregate. Now it’s $30 million single and $60 million aggregate. In doing so, we’ve increased the ceiling to keep our best accounts, and our agents are more comfortable now more than ever to place business with us, knowing it will not outgrow us. For two years in a row, Surety has grown significantly, seeing a 25% increase. We hired several new teammates to join the Surety team, equating to a 10% increase in our team for a total of 34 teammates. We’ve had a trainee join us each year, so we have always been building a pipeline of new professionals. It’s important to have that in our line of business as we grow and build for the future. Financially speaking, we strengthened our bench and continue to build our surety capacity. Despite a challenging year, our goal was $38.5 million in direct written premium, and we were well over $43.7 million. Just this year, we appointed 25 new agencies, most of which have been in the new states. It goes back to building a foundation to continue our growth in 2024 and beyond.
Increased material costs and the continued shortage of skilled labor are making our jobs considerably more difficult. Moving forward, we will continue to maintain consistent underwriting discipline and deliver exceptional service to our agents. We expect continued growth, especially in the new expansion states. Strong relationships take time to build, and it takes time to gain trust, but we are confident that we will get there.
Here When Policyholders Need Us Most
Garth Crow Executive Vice President, Chief Claim Officer
When a claim is filed with FCCI, we put our claim philosophy into action. We promise to respond quickly, listen carefully, empathize with your concerns, assess the damage, communicate, and provide a prompt and fair claim resolution. FCCI is proud of our record in closing claims and delivering measurable results – fairly and faster than the industry average. In fact, over a recent five-year period (2018-2022), FCCI’s 12-month casualty claims closing rate was a favorable 81.4% vs. an A.M. Best industry group closing average of 74.6%.
Our Claim Teams are specialized, offering greater expertise to assist you through the claim process, resulting in better outcomes for our policyholders. When we receive a new claim, we investigate it with a sense of urgency to ensure the strongest defense of our policyholder. In 2023, FCCI’s Claim and Legal Teams successfully litigated hundreds of lawsuits to conclusions with one goal in mind: protecting our policyholders.
Claim Case Studies – In addition to our risk control services, FCCI’s Claim Teams prepared case studies (on our website) to assist in proactively mitigating business risks. These resources demonstrate how to capture evidence for insurance and police investigations, minimize fraud, avoid costly litigation, deter theft and vandalism, and train employees. By following these best practices, businesses may reduce their insurance claims.