Message From the President

“Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity.”

Roman Philosopher Seneca

Even before 2022 ended, we began carefully adjusting our strategies to address the multitude of forces pressuring our financials with the ultimate goal of steering us back to underwriting profitability. As “luck” would have it, that preparation enabled us to successfully navigate the 2023 challenges of dramatic shifts in claim frequency and severity, catastrophic weather events, economic turbulence, and the cost and availability of reinsurance, as well as complete the strategic merger of ClearPath Mutual Insurance into the Group.

While we remain committed to the Habitation segment, we focused on further diversifying our book of business in 2023, targeting growth in featured classes outside of Habitation and reducing our dependency and exposure while increasing our capacity for the class for key agency partners. This allowed our Business Development and Underwriting teams to improve the overall class diversification and exceed their unit goals and annual plan with $53 million in new business and $436 million in year-end direct written premium

We took steps to enhance service to our agency partners across multiple fronts. We further segmented our underwriting business units and added Foundation Plus to deliver elevated proficiency for our accounts between $25 thousand and $75 thousand in total account premium. We created the new Agency Engagement Unit, consisting of three team members dedicated to improving the agency experience with HMIG. They facilitate licensing, train agents and producers in our core underwriting systems, and assist agency producers and CSRs with technical challenges when entering new business or accessing online systems and resources. We added the ability to quote Package business in the Mercantile, Restaurant, Service, and Wholesale business segments in RapidWrite, updated Inland Marine Coverage options, and introduced Umbrella Enhancement Endorsements that align with our underlying coverage extensions. We launched Ecopia, a geospatial-based system automating the evaluation of exposing risks and the calculation of aggregate risk value, freeing up our underwriters to focus on other critical aspects of the policy and account servicing. Lastly, we responded to requests from our agency partners and now offer EFT bill pay enrollment for our policyholders

We continued our journey in 2023 of replacing our core legacy systems and improving existing systems to support efficiency and ease of doing business. We launched our new claims management platform, Claims360, in July, streamlining the claims process while adding robust capabilities and resources for our agents and policyholders. We made improvements to our RapidWrite online rating system, which contributed to our most successful year on record, with $9.3 million written and over 40% of accepted submissions not requiring underwriter review. In a move to cement our commitment to innovation, we allocated a full-time IT developer to concentrate on implementing technology initiatives emanating from our Innovation Chamber and other areas of the organization. We also started the vendor selection and scope development to replace our current billing platform, our last legacy system, by the end of 2024. 

We advanced several initiatives in response to a growing and diverse team. We announced a Flex 5 Hybrid schedule, maximizing in-office collaboration coupled with virtual flexibility. We started an annual Employee Match Program to amplify the giving spirit of our team members. Addressing mental health, we added an Employee Wellness Program as a corporate-sponsored benefit and presented a Wellness Day with guided meditation workshops and healthy nutrition. With an eye on succession planning and employee development, we promoted officers Jeffery Bischoff, Patrick Gagen, and Stacey Rebbert to Vice Presidents. Finally, we expanded the leadership and capability of our Board of Directors as we welcomed Sean Garber, establishing continuity with leadership from ClearPath Mutual, and John DeMartini, bringing critical reinsurance expertise to the Board. Rewarded for our efforts of creatively maintaining a vibrant employee culture, we were honored with awards from RISE Elite 50 Internships; Top Workplaces USA; Top Workplace Culture Awards in Work-Life Flexibility, Leadership, Purpose & Values, Compensation & Benefits, and Innovation; Cigna GOLD Healthy Workforce; and The Daily Record Empowering Women. 

Perhaps the biggest story of 2023 was the successful completion of the merger of ClearPath Mutual Insurance, rebranded as Clearpath Specialty, into Harford Mutual Insurance Group. After more than two years of due diligence, research, meetings, and planning, we got “lucky” when the merger became official on August 4, 2023. We added Kentucky and Indiana to our geographic footprint, over 400 agencies and more than a thousand producers to our agency plant, 56 employees to our team, expanded our workers’ compensation line by over 140% to $92 million, and established our Midwest office in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Our integration plan, dubbed “Better Together,” advanced quickly after approval as we readied people and processes for a January 1 effective date for Clearpath’s monoline workers’ compensation renewals, quoting, and new policy issuance under the merged entity and on HMIG systems. The bulk of the initial integration has passed, but more will continue through the first quarter of 2025. Financially, we can credit the merger and formation of Clearpath Specialty with adding $54.2 million to our revenue, $6.3 million to our new business, and $85.2 million to our combined policyholders’ surplus for the Group.  Our industry is fraught with unplanned circumstances and catastrophic events. It’s the way of the world and the very reason our products, this industry, and Harford Mutual exist. Knowing this, we always have our eyes focused on what lies ahead, around the corner, and down the road. We make adjustments for tomorrow, calculations for next year, and predictions for the longer term. Then, with a little “luck,” when the opportunities present themselves in 2024 and beyond, we are prepared and ready to capture them.

Steven D. Linkous
President and Chief Executive Officer