On June 2, 2014, directors of Lewer Life Insurance Company announced that A.M. Best has revised the outlook to “stable” from “positive” and affirmed the financial strength rating of B (Fair) and issuer credit rating of “bb+” after analyzing the company’s performance.
According to the A.M. Best report, the stable outlook reflects Lewer Life’s lower operating earnings reported in 2013 and a net operating loss reported in the first quarter 2014 due to adherence with minimum loss ratio and rebate requirements of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is a full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the insurance industry. Policyholders refer to Best’s ratings and analysis as a means of assessing the financial strength and creditworthiness of risk-bearing entities and investment vehicles. It is the largest and longest-established company devoted to issuing in-depth reports and financial strength ratings about insurance organizations.
In response to the revised outlook to stable from positive, President Mike Lewer stated that this “step back” wasn’t a surprise. “With the implications of the Minimum Loss Ratio (MLR) rebate requirement of the PPACA, it’s understandable,” he said, “We are disappointed that A.M. Best has revised their outlook, but we understand their rationale for this decision. We are implementing the strategies that will help mitigate the impact of the MLR rebates.”
Since the Lewer Charitable Fund (LCF) was established in 2007, nearly $10,000 has been donated to area organizations through the LCF and funds raised by employees.
The fund was established as a result of the interest Lewer employees expressed in “giving back” to the Kansas City community and other areas, especially areas impacted by natural disasters in recent years. “We are privileged as a company to have a growing number of employees who have the desire to become more involved in our communities,” said President Mike Lewer. “I am proud of the fact that members of our team understand the value and the importance of community involvement, both as individuals and as a company.”
Benefactors of the LCF, since its inception, include individuals and families supported by the Adopt-A-Family, Seattle Global Impact, Make-A-Wish, Children’s Trolley Run, Catholic Charities, Reiser Relief, American Cancer Society, Jay Doc Clinic, and the Down Syndrome Guild organizations.
Prior to the LCF, the Lewer companies supported a number of local charitable organizations as corporate sponsors, such as the Kidney Foundation, United Way, Amy Thompson Run, and Harvester organizations.
The LewerBenefits team has announced the launching of MVP II, a new health insurance plan designed for large employers looking for affordable health insurance for their employees. Vice President, Commercial Lines John Owens and Account Manager Tom Kohl have been busy meeting with employers who are eager to make a decision by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) deadline of January 1, 2015.
“MVP II was designed by Companion Life,” said Owens. “The actuarial value plan is a new concept and meets the Bronze level employer requirements of the ACA. The MVP II product provides three key features – affordability, sustainability, and ease of enrollments. Lewer is the first to bring this type of plan to the market. It is a creative approach that envisions how companies who have lots of hourly non-exempt employees can solve the whole issue of the ACA employer mandate.”
Owens and Kohl are gearing up for a busy fall. “Employers will be moving forward with installing new plans because the ACA employer mandate deadline is January 1, 2015,” said Owens.
A recent National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) survey revealed that 59 percent of NACS member companies surveyed have reduced employees to under 30 per week in response to the ACA. In response to the survey results, Kohl is anticipating a run on Minimum Essential Coverage plans in conjunction with Lewer’s new MVP II product. “Generally speaking,” said Kohl, “employees working less than 30 hours are eligible for benefits but on a voluntary basis. This means a majority will likely elect the Minimum Essential Coverage with Limited Medical package included in the plans since there would be no employer contribution. This is up to the employer as to whether to make it available or not.”
How are prospects responding to the new product? According to Kohl, who, along with Owens, continues to work hard to provide employers with answers during this complicated, ever-changing ACA landscape, the concept is drawing a lot of positive response from both employers and brokers. “MVP II is the affordable solution that meets employer and employee ACA requirements,” said Kohl.
The Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd., headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, has been renamed Lewer Canada Ltd. Lewer Canada Ltd. and officially became part of the Lewer Companies on January 1, 2014.
Since the company’s formation in 1974, Lewer Canada Ltd. has expanded its operations across Canada through its affiliate office in Laval, Quebec. The certificate of name change and articles of amendment were finalized by the law firm Black, Sutherland LLP in Toronto, Ontario, on December 2, 2013.
“The primary reason for the name change was to reflect the fact that over the past few years the company has evolved beyond its insurance agency operations to include a growing commitment to developing the technology to support Third Party Administration of benefits for the Lewer companies as well as other producer organizations in Canada,” said President Mike Lewer. “The name change also anticipates the future expansion of the company into providing financial services to our affinity markets in Canada.”
The name change is one of the most recent developments announced since Lewer U.S.A. assumed the financial management of its Canadian affiliate last summer. Craig Griffith, who was named Director, Business Development at Lewer Canada on July 8, 2013, is leading the transition. As he stated after joining the team, his first priorities are to “preserve the Company’s existing business relationships and income, develop new markets and new client accounts, and explore the development of other new business opportunities, including student insurance and retirement plan sales in Canada.”
Shortly after the name change, Lewer Canada Ltd. launched a new website. The website includes a number of new user-friendly options such as online enrollment and quote request forms.
The Lewer Agency, Inc. is pleased to announce the promotion of Rodney Vallejo to the position of Vice President, Client Services. Prior to his promotion, Vallejo was responsible for providing Lewer clients extraordinary customer service as Director of Client Services.
In his new senior management position, Vallejo will continue to be responsible for the administration and service activities of Lewer’s commercial and student health products, including claims, auditing, billing and customer service functions.
He joined Lewer as a managed care account manager in 1996 and was promoted to Manager, Marketing Services that November before leaving Lewer and the industry in 2001 to work as an international account manager in the export beef industry. Vallejo returned to Lewer as Manager, Marketing and Sales Support in January 2005. He said he returned because of “a great experience during his first tour of duty.” He also said he had realized that he had a preference for the health insurance industry. Vallejo has a Bachelor of Business degree and an MBA from the University of Missouri.
Vallejo commented that he is looking forward to his VP role. “Change is good,” he said. “In my management role, I am always looking forward to helping the company grow and continuing to develop its good business reputation.”
Representatives of Lewer Canada Ltd. and Lewer U.S.A. were honored to participate in a number of conferences recently hosted by sponsoring companies. The Shell, Shaw, 7-Eleven, and BP conferences were the largest conferences on the Fall/Winter conference agenda.
Kicking off the conference season was the National Association of Shell Marketers (NASM) conference, held the first week in October in Houston, Texas. Vice President, Special Markets John Owens enjoyed participating in a Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament which resulted in a $1,010 donation to the Fisher House Foundation. The Fisher House Foundation, established 20 years ago, is an A+ rated military charity that helps service members, Veterans, and their families. While at the conference, Owens also appreciated an opportunity to present on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
A Lewer Canada team attended the Winter Markets for Shaw Flooring Conference held in Niagara Falls, Canada, January 21 – 23. Director, Business Development Craig Griffith gave a presentation to a number of territory managers, regional managers, and vice presidents who attended the conference. “Approximately 95 percent of the TMs stopped by the Lewer booth,” said Griffith. “Some wanted to discuss my presentation. Others just dropped by for some social time. The conference was an excellent experience.”
In late January, a Lewer U.S.A. team attended the 2014 7-Eleven Experience Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to 7-Eleven Account Manager Tom Kohl, the team enjoyed visiting with the approximately 150 franchisees who stopped by the Lewer booth.
Wrapping up the exciting Fall/Winter 2014 large conference agenda for Lewer U.S.A. was the BPAMA Convention and Business Expo in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event, also attended by BPAMA, BP and fellow BP branded marketers, was held February 3 – 5 in Scottsdale, Arizona. President Mike Lewer and Vice President, Special Markets John Owens represented Lewer at the conference. Owens presented The Affordable Care Act: Time for Action, which drew approximately 40 BPAMA members. “Based on the audience engagement and the individuals interested in visiting after the meeting, John’s message resonated with this audience,” said Lewer. “We received excellent feedback from several attendees and look forward to following up on new opportunities.”(412)
The 2014 NACS Human Resources (HR) Forum was held March 4 – 6 in Tampa, Florida. Vice President, Special Markets John Owens, who represented Lewer at the forum, said he has enjoyed attending the forum every year for almost a decade.
Unlike generic HR-related events, the NACS HR Forum provides attendees with actionable information on topics specific to their job – in their industry. National-caliber speakers and industry peers provide in-depth insight and knowledge about new laws and regulations that impact the convenience industry, best practices and how to find and keep the right talent, and ways to manage rising labor and benefit costs. The forum was organized by Terry McKenna of C-Store Coaches.
Owens presented on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) while at the conference. “The PPACA is a timely topic for HR managers,” said Owens. “In fact, learning more about health care reform is so important to this group, one of its members, Director of Personnel at Country Fair, Inc. Steve Seymour, conducted a health care survey at the forum.”
“The great news,” Seymour wrote in his email to members outlining the results of the survey, “is that most all companies represented had a good understanding of PPACA and felt they had a good strategy in place. It is far from a ‘one size fits all’ strategy. Companies are looking at it from many different perspectives.”
The seventh question on Seymour’s survey was as follows: Does your company have a good understanding of their responsibilities under PPACA? A significant number of members surveyed – 92 percent – indicated that their company did have a good understanding of their responsibilities. Owens has presented on health care reform and the PPACA at a number of NACS meetings in recent years.
The Lewer Companies are pleased to announce that Diane Jimenez joined the team as an administrative assistant, July 8, 2013, and now serves the companies as a customer service representative.
Jimenez is a volunteer at El Centro, Inc. in Kansas City, Kansas, where she has donated her time for the cause of the ¡Sí, Se Puede! Program since 2009. She is also a Peer Leader at Metropolitan Community College – Maple Woods (MCC), in Kansas City, Missouri. Originally from Laredo, Texas, Jimenez graduated from Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Missouri in 2011. At Park Hill, she served as Spanish Club President, was Consular of the Youth Leadership and Diversity Training Program, and Founder of HALO (Hispanic American Leadership Organization).
In 2009, Jimenez was recognized by the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute at an annual conference for her leadership in the Hispanic community. She plans to continue her undergraduate studies in business administration and marketing at the University of Missouri – Kansas City in May 2014.
Katelyn Bidondo assumed the role of receptionist at The Lewer Companies, September 3, 2013. Prior to joining Lewer, Bidondo worked as a teller and customer service representative at U.S. Bank and the Bank of America in the Westport and Brookside areas of Kansas City, Missouri. She also worked as a student assistant at the Women’s Center at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC).
Following her graduation from Raymore Peculiar High School in Peculiar, Missouri in 2007, she received an Associate of Arts degree from Longview Community College and went on to continue her studies at UMKC, where she received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Spanish in May 2012. At this time, she is working toward a Masters degree in Romance Languages with an emphasis on Spanish studies at UMKC.
The Lewer Companies are pleased to announce that Lewer U.S.A. is purchasing the outstanding shares of its affiliate, The Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd. in Mississauga, Ontario. In addition, Craig Griffith has been appointed to the position of Director, Business Development and is assuming a leading role in the business development and management operations of the company.
The Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd., and its affiliate Sainte-Marie, Lewer Inc., have been in operation in Canada for nearly three decades, providing companies affiliated with the petroleum and automotive industries in Canada with comprehensive and competitive health benefits programs.
“In recent years, an important area of growth for Lewer Canada has come from partnering with select broker partners who are able to create value for their clients by bringing the unique value proposition available through Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd. and Sainte-Marie Lewer, which propels Lewer’s Canadian clients’ ROI and increases the satisfaction for all stakeholders in a company’s benefit program,” said Griffith.
“Helping businesses and insurance planners across Canada, we are able to bring the knowledge and experience of fellow specialists in securing their Benefit and Compensation programs. Our biggest strength is our understanding of their plan,” he said. “We use our knowledge to provide a professional and experienced review of the administration and funding of our clients’ benefits programs and we focus on finding and improving efficiencies. Our prominence in the marketplace allows us to customize our programs to achieve our clients’ specific goals.”
Griffith has 17 years of experience in group insurance, savings and voluntary benefits, with 12 of those years working inside a Property and Casualty (P&C) brokerage. He began his career with the life insurance division of a major Canadian insurance company and quickly moved into consulting on employee health and dental care plans for small and medium size companies. The role expanded to consulting for brokers, providing them with service and advice for their client’s group benefits needs. While serving in a consulting role, he saw the opportunity to provide clients with advice and service on their P&C insurance and also began serving businesses with their commercial insurance needs.
In 2001, Griffith joined a P&C brokerage integrating group benefits and group retirement savings into their product portfolio, working with small and medium companies to analyze their employer and shareholder needs, and implementing successful and sustainable benefit programs. Now at The Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd., he is working with clients to offer a complete suite of services to improve their ROI and to increase their employee’s engagement through benefit plans and compensation planning.
Prior to Lewer, Griffith worked as a benefit consultant for Healthsource Plus in Toronto, Canada. Healthsource Plus is a People Corporation Company that focuses on Group Benefits, Benefits Administration, Claims Management, Wellness, Group Retirement Solutions and Human Resource Solutions. He also worked as a Sales Consultant, Insurance Solutions for ADP Insurance Canada, in Mississauga, Ontario, focusing on companies with 100 to 250 plan members throughout Ontario.
In addition, and for over a decade, he worked as Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Caponi McLean Group Benefits, a Canadian company. While serving in this position, he was committed to delivering sustainable and progressive employee benefit strategies to Canadian and international employers. His career path also includes nearly a decade of group benefits sales experience with Dale & Morrow Insurance and Financial Services.
Griffith says he is looking forward to a challenging and rewarding career with Lewer Canada. “I look forward to developing new distribution channels; capitalizing and expanding our reach within the existing affinity markets, creating new affinity markets, and working with suppliers and Lewer U.S.A. to expand our products and markets.”
Lewer Financial Advisors, LLC (LFA) is pleased to announce that Senior Vice President Greg Addison and investment advisor Dan Compton finalized the details of a comprehensive, formal financial plan, written August 21, 2013. The clients’ estate is valued at $4 million.
“There were some complexities, including owner operated businesses, real estate, farmland, government income, multiple existing IRA and brokerage accounts, employer sponsored retirement plans and deferred receivables which all needed to work together,” said Addison. “We also needed to work with an estate attorney to design an appropriate trust to house their estate. It was a number of weeks worth of work, but it was well worth it as we ended up with a comprehensive, integrated financial plan for the client. In addition to designing their overall financial plan, we also won the right to manage all of their investable assets which included employer sponsored retirement savings plans and self-directed IRAs.”
Addison co-wrote the case with Dan Compton, who joined LFA as a consulting investment advisor in January, 2013. “I brought Dan into the discussion because he is really good at creating financial plans – particularly those involving farmland,” said Addison. “He is also particularly good with working with more experienced clients who have more complex portfolios. After we presented the financial plan to our clients, they asked if we would submit a proposal for the ongoing management of their assets. As a result, we are now their financial advisors.
“I really enjoyed working on the case,” Addison said. “Our clients want to retire in four years so they can spend more time with their grandchildren. It is nice to be in a position where LFA can help them reach the goals that are important to them.”