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Blog

Avoiding litigation: ways to prevent disputes that land claims in court

When an attorney gets involved in a workers’ compensation claim, it can increase claim costs and harm outcomes for everyone involved. There are a number of steps that employers can take to prevent the kinds of scenarios that cause workers to seek representation from an attorney.

Retaliation claims: what they are and best practices to avoid them

If an employee feels they’ve been wrongfully targeted for exercising their protected right, they may in turn file a retaliation claim. Learn best practices to avoid them.

Reducing repetitive motion workplace injuries

The potential for injury from repetitive motion and awkward positions in jobs is widespread across many industries and businesses. You can greatly reduce the likelihood of these injuries by implementing best practices in workplace ergonomics.

How to prevent safety hazards due to impairment

Drug and alcohol use and misuse are on the rise. As an employer you can establish or update your drug and alcohol program to prevent the safety risks of drug and alcohol use on the job. Learn how to prevent safety hazards due to drug and alcohol impairment.

Letter from the President: Strong partnerships drive solid financial results

Through the whirlwinds of a global pandemic and continued economic uncertainty, policyholders are consistently choosing to stay with SFM, and independent agents are bringing more and more new accounts into the fold. We thank our valued agency partners for sharing our dedication to service, safety and positive results for our customers.

SFM expands appetite in Kansas, preps for entrance into Tennessee

SFM’s territory expansion hits a new high as we broaden our appetite in Kansas and continue efforts to grow in Tennessee in 2023.

Encourage employers to report injuries immediately

Employers don’t always know how important it is to report work injuries immediately. As an agent, you can provide vital information on how timely reporting can impact the trajectory of a workers’ compensation claim.

Get to know claims trainee Elyse Porter

Elyse Porter is a member SFM’s newest class of claims trainees, which started in June of 2022. She now handles claims as part of our Small Business Accounts team. We asked her about her background and her role at SFM.

Agents can now set up AutoPay and one-time payments at binding

Agents can now set up AutoPay and one-time payments for your customers while binding new business in SAM.

SFM Wisconsin pool continues to grow

Since SFM was named a servicing carrier for the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Insurance Pool in late 2021, new pool business has been coming in steadily and is currently ahead of plan.

SFM supports local communities in 2022

SFM strives to maintain a positive presence in communities and invests heavily in charitable causes. Here’s a snapshot of what SFM team members have been up to in 2022.

Why watching prescriptions closely is so important
Why watching prescriptions closely is so important

SFM works hard to make sure injured workers’ medications are managed well, and as part of that effort, SFM partners with pharmacy benefits manager, myMatrixx.

Opioids and workers' compensation: Why employers should care

Opioid painkiller misuse not only threatens the general wellbeing of employees, but can create on-the-job safety risks and inhibit recovery and return-to-work.

SFM Foundation holds fall event; 2023 golf events planned

Nearly $35,000 was raised for the Foundation’s scholarship program at the SFM Foundation’s in-person fall fundraising event returned in November. Mark your calendars for the 2023 golf events on Monday, June 12, 2023, at Prestwick Golf Club in Woodbury, Minnesota, and Monday, May 22, 2023, at Hyperion Field Club in Johnston, Iowa.

What are employer liability limits?

Employer liability coverage is rarely used in most states, and makes up a very small part of the workers' compensation insurance premium.

Health care worker and patient safety

Equipment designed to help health care workers lift and move patients safely doesn’t just benefit the workers. It can also improve patients’ quality of life.

Minnesota, Iowa governors proclaim Nov. 7-11 Kids' Chance Awareness Week

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds both proclaimed November 9-13, 2020 Kids' Chance Awareness Week. The SFM Foundation fall fundraising event coincides with Kids' Chance Awareness Week with a silent auction that runs from November 7-10 and an in-person event at the Westin Galleria Edina in Edina, Minnesota from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, November 10.

SFM adds time-saving features for agents

We know your days are busy, and we continue working to streamline processes and offer time-saving tools to our agency partners.

Changing marijuana laws and the impact on work comp

Given the prevalence of THC-infused products, employers are asking about the impact of these potentially intoxicating substances on the workers’ compensation system.

SFM territory expansion: Sights set on Tennessee

SFM has selected the Volunteer State as our 2023 expansion state, continuing our plans for growth. Our team is already meeting with key industry contacts in the state to develop relationships with regulators, agencies, and agency associations.

SFM and Underwriter Jeff Magee recognized by the IIAN

The Independent Insurance Agents of Nebraska recognized SFM for outstanding effort and service with two annual awards for 2022.

Agents can update policy effective dates on SAM applications

Users of SFM Agency Manager (SAM) now have the ability to change effective dates on quoted applications, including approved quotes. We added this feature earlier this year in response to feedback from agents.

20% commission promotion for new small business extended through 2023

SFM’s 20% commission program for new small business accounts has been very popular with agents, and it’s set to continue for another year.

Get to know SFM premium auditor Jeremy Brandt

Jeremy Brandt has worked in SFM’s premium audit department for 15 years, starting as an Internal Premium Auditor and now serving as Premium Audit Technical Specialist. We asked him about his background and his role at SFM.

Minnesota rating structure changes in 2023

Starting in 2023, the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Insurers Association will be including trend, tail development, and loss adjustment expense data in pure premium base rates.

SFM Foundation in-person fall fundraising event returns

Back by popular demand, the SFM Foundation’s live fall fundraising event is scheduled for this November.

Policyholders receive portion of WCRA distribution

The Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Association is distributing $35 million to policyholders who had Minnesota workers’ compensation policies in 2020.

Legal and safety considerations for hybrid workers

If you have employees who work both remotely and on-site, there are some important legal and workplace safety considerations to be aware of.

Loss prevention insight from the experts

The only controllable item in an organization’s workers’ compensation premium cost is its experience modifier (e-mod) which is directly impacted by claim costs and severity.

Supporting injured employees’ mental and emotional health

As an employer, you can play an important role in helping an injured worker maintain their mental health. Read on to learn how.

Bob Lund Scholarship invests in future insurance leaders

SFM established a new scholarship program designed to identify and support future leaders and introduce them to rewarding careers in the insurance industry. The Bob Lund Scholarship is named for SFM’s former CEO, who is widely known for his service to the field of insurance and his continuing passion for making the world a better place.

SFM Foundation holds golf fundraisers, announces new scholarships and fall event

The SFM Foundation 2022 Minnesota and Iowa golf events raised approximately $325,000 for the Foundation’s scholarship program. This fall brings yet another opportunity to support the Foundation, with the popular live fall fundraising event returning to the calendar in November. The in-person event is scheduled for Thursday, November 10, at the Westin Edina Galleria in Edina, Minnesota, near SFM’s Bloomington headquarters.

Winter-proof your workplace to stop slips and falls feature image
Winter-proof your workplace to stop slips and falls

Follow these steps to get your employees ready for the risks of winter weather and cut down on slips and falls in the workplace.

SFM’s Wisconsin pool business grows steadily

In late 2021, SFM became a servicing carrier for the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Insurance Pool and the first year has been busy. Through the first two quarters of the year, SFM has been writing 60-80 new policies per week, totaling 1,800 policies for $5.3 million in premium. SFM will take on new pool accounts until reaching 20% of the state’s pool policyholders.

Expert claim handling lets agents rest easy

Our unique combination of effort, expertise and empathy allows us to provide the superior service that our customers and their employees rely on.

Get to know an SFM underwriter: Rick Spaulding

Wisconsin-based Marketing Underwriter Specialist Rick Spaulding has worked at SFM for nine years, and in the insurance industry for 16 years. We asked Rick a few questions about his role and his background.

Wisconsin law changes impact part-time workers, PPD benefits

A number of changes to the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Act were signed into law in April.

Iowa Supreme Court defines ‘shoulder’ in rotator cuff work comp injury case

On April 1, 2022, the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed a district court’s finding in Chavez v MS Technology LLC/Westfield Insurance Co. that an employee’s injury was a scheduled member injury to her shoulder rather than an unscheduled whole-body injury, agreeing that the definition of “shoulder” should not just be limited to the joint.

MN Supreme Court upholds benefits award in multi-employer work comp hearing loss case

On May 16, 2022, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld an award of workers’ compensation benefits to an employee for his hearing loss due to long-term exposure to noise over a 30-year period working for five employers.

Policyholders give premium audit experience high marks

Policyholders continue to give SFM’s premium audit experience high marks in follow-up surveys.

SFM Foundation holds fundraisers, new scholarships awarded

Since its inception in 2008, the Foundation’s scholarship program has helped 216 students, including the 13 new recipients announced this summer.

SFM employees connect with college students

A number of SFM employees took time recently to talk with students about issues in insurance, and careers in the field.

SFM grows employee base in Iowa, Wisconsin

SFM continues to expand its employee base in states beyond its Minnesota headquarters.

Talking about safety: Techniques for effective safety training and communication

A strong safety culture starts with a high level of safety awareness among employees. Getting there requires consistent, effective communication between leadership and front-line workers.

Get to know an SFM employee: Sarah Hunter

Sarah Hunter was recently promoted to SFM’s Vice President, Claims, and previously worked as Staff Counsel with SFM’s in-house law firm. We asked Sarah about her new role and her background.

Protect your workers from the threats of extreme heat

Prevent heat-related illness among your employees with these tips and tools for working in extreme heat.

Workplace ergonomics: Tips to create a neutral posture

Read our ergonomics in the workplace tips to learn how to adjust your work space to allow for neutral posture at work; both in and out of the office.

SFM releases 2021 annual review

SFM’s 2021 financial results illustrate a trend of positive outcomes for the company and the policyholders we serve.

Work injuries among school employees

SFM conducted an in-depth study of school employees in Minnesota to learn which employees were most likely to be injured, and how. What they learned might surprise you.

Bray receives Minnesota Lawyer In-House Counsel Award

SFM Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Kathy Bray is among this year’s recipients of the Minnesota Lawyer In-House Counsel Awards.

Compensability of adverse COVID-19 vaccine reactions

U.S. employers have the right to encourage or require employees to vaccinate against COVID-19. This raises the question of compensability for adverse reactions from the COVID-19 vaccine, and related medical treatment and time lost from work. A key factor for workers’ compensation compensability is whether the vaccination was required by the employer.

Get to know a claims representative: Beth Couette

Small Business Accounts Claims Specialist Beth Couette has worked at SFM for nine years, and in the workers’ compensation industry for 35 years. We asked Beth for some details about herself and her role.

SFM’s Financial Strength Rating of A- (Excellent) reaffirmed by AM Best

SFM Mutual Insurance Co. announced that its Financial Strength Rating of “A- (Excellent)” and Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “a-” have been reaffirmed by AM Best Rating Services, Inc.

2021 results: Remarkable performance on a solid foundation of customer service

By all objective measures, SFM’s financial results for 2021 are outstanding. From reaching new heights in customer retention to setting records in new business and total written premium, the company has excelled in virtually every category of performance.

SFM offers advantages for employers of all sizes

At SFM, we write business of all types and sizes. No matter what size of employer you’re trying to place, there are important advantages to placing it with SFM.

Sign up now for direct deposit commissions

Hundreds of agencies have signed up to have their commissions deposited directly into their bank accounts. If you haven’t signed up yet, now is the time!

Hunter named VP, Claims

SFM recently promoted Sarah Hunter to Vice President, Claims, succeeding the retiring Meg Kasting.

SFM’s footprint in Kansas gets larger; more strides made in Indiana

SFM’s territory expansion successes continue as the team finds opportunities to get their feet on the ground in our two newest states.

SFM attends 2022 KAIA Convention

Three SFM representatives participated in this year’s Kansas Association of Insurance Agents (KAIA) Annual Convention in Wichita, Kansas on January 24-26.

Reminder: SFM offers pay-as-you-go option

SFM’s pay-as-you-go wage reporting system allows policyholders to make premium payments that match with payroll throughout the year.

Agents give SFM high marks in survey

The results of our latest agent survey are in, and agents gave SFM high marks on ease of doing business.

LSH attorneys named to MN leadership roles

Two attorneys from SFM’s in-house law firm Lynn, Scharfenberg & Hollick (LSH) have taken up leadership roles in the Minnesota legal community.

LSH attorneys look back at 2021, celebrate performance

The attorneys of Lynn, Scharfenberg & Hollick compiled a win/loss record of almost 80% (15-4) in 2021 for hearings at the Office of Administrative Hearings in St. Paul, Minnesota.

SFM Foundation to host annual golf fundraisers in MN, IA

For over a dozen years, the SFM Foundation’s annual golf tournaments have been the charity’s top source for fundraising.

WCRA announces surplus redistribution, Minnesota insurers and policyholders to receive $600 million

The WCRA has announced a $600 million surplus distribution to its members and insurer policyholders. Approximately $383 million will go to workers’ compensation insurers, $182 million will be distributed to self-insurers, and $35 million will go to policyholders.

SFM Foundation scholarship applications accepted until March 31

SFM Foundation will be accepting scholarship applications for the 2022-2023 academic year until March 31, 2022.

SFM leaders receive promotions

SFM recently promoted several of the organization’s leaders to the role of Vice President.

SFM supports over 55 charities in 2021

In 2021, SFM supported more than 55 organizations through direct donations, sponsorships, and employee matching.

Resumption of the presumption: Minnesota's COVID-19 presumption law

Minnesota’s workers’ compensation law has been temporarily amended to include a presumption of liability for certain workers with a positive COVID-19 laboratory test or clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 when a test is not available.

How hobbies can improve mental health and overall well-being

Just as eating fruits and vegetables can play an important role in physical health, research suggests there may be a similarly simple way to improve mental health – having a hobby.

Get to know an SFM loss prevention specialist: Jason Clausen

SFM Loss Prevention Specialist Jason Clausen hopes employers he works with will see him not as a safety inspector, but as a safety champion and business partner.

Fostering good relationships among employees

On average, employees will spend a third of their lives at work, so it’s safe to say their jobs have a huge impact on their quality of life. That means it’s important to ensure their time is spent in an organization where they can have healthy relationships with their colleagues.

Letter from the President: Standing on firm ground, focused on a strong future

Many hoped the year 2021 would leave the challenges of the prior year behind entirely. While this past 12 months didn’t see the return to normalcy that some envisioned it would, it did see another year of unprecedented success for SFM.

SFM territory expansion: Officially open for business in Indiana, celebrating successes in Kansas

SFM representatives have been on the ground in Indiana working to form agent relationships and meeting with insurance regulators.

Get to know an SFM employee: DeAnne Misgen

DeAnne Misgen has been an Underwriting Technical Specialist with SFM for two years, and in the insurance industry for 24 years. If you’ve been involved with onboarding a new agency or requesting a change to your agency records, you may have heard from DeAnne.

Get 20% commission for new accounts up to $25K in premium

Agents get 20% commission on new business up to $25,000 in premium that’s written in the SFM Mutual rate set with an effective date from January 1-December 31, 2022.

Webinar planned for policyholders on loss prevention basics

SFM will start 2022 off by hosting another educational webinar for our policyholders and agents titled “Loss Prevention 101.” Mark your calendars for February 23 from 10 to 11 a.m. to join us as we discuss some crucial and impactful aspects of loss prevention for any business type.

MWCIA eliminates hard copy ERM-14 forms

The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Insurers Association is no longer accepting hard copy ERM-14 forms as of January 1, 2022, according to a recent circular letter.

2022 SFM Foundation golf events scheduled

Please mark your calendar for the SFM Foundation’s 2022 Minnesota and Iowa Golfing for Scholarships fundraisers.

New safety committee resource now available

SFM’s loss prevention professionals are sharing their best advice for making safety committees successful through two new resources available now on sfmic.com.

Get to know a claims representative: Joanne Connolly

Small Business Accounts Claim Specialist Joanne Connolly has worked at SFM for more than 20 years. We asked Joanne for some details about herself and her role.

Minnesota governor proclaims Nov. 8-12, 2021 Kids' Chance Awareness Week

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz proclaimed November 8-12, 2021 Kids' Chance Awareness Week.

MN Supreme Court rules on medical cannabis in work comp

Recent MN Supreme Court decisions create a new bright-line rule about the compensability of medical marijuana in workers’ compensation claims.

When is PTSD covered by workers’ compensation?

For PTSD to be covered by workers’ compensation, it must meet the criteria as described in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and be diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Bray to give keynote address at NWCDN virtual conference

The National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network has invited SFM’s Senior Vice President & Chief Legal Officer Kathy Bray to give the keynote address at the organization’s next monthly virtual conference, “Today’s Trends & Tomorrow’s Solutions: The COVID Conundrum.”

SFM wins Wisconsin pool bid

The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance is awarding SFM a five-year contract with the option for three one-year extensions.

SFM Foundation virtual auction set for November 8-12

The SFM Foundation is hosting its second annual virtual silent auction fundraiser the week of November 8-12, 2021. This year's goal is to raise $30,000 to fund SFM Foundation scholarships. Learn how you can participate in the event.

SFM’s expanding territory: Kansas rollout off to a strong start, Indiana up next

With SFM’s Kansas expansion now over a year old, the company has appointed just over 100 agencies in the state, accounting for nearly $800,000 in written premium.

20 percent commission on new small business extended through 2022

Agents get 20% commission on new business up to $25,000 in premium that’s written in the SFM Mutual rate set with an effective date from January 1-December 31, 2022.

7 ways agents can help clients through the work comp claims process

Agents sometimes get involved when a client files a workers’ compensation claim, so it’s good to understand the claims process and best practices for handling claims.

Autorenewal quotes are now available in SAM

Quotes for policies eligible to automatically renew are now available in SFM Agency Manager (SAM).

Now seeking additional class codes from the WI pool

Since 2020, SFM has written more than 400 accounts totaling $2.4 million that were previously in the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Insurance Pool.

Direct deposit commissions now available

SFM can now deposit commission payments directly into your agency’s bank account.

WI Supreme Court decision highlights exclusive remedy provision in state’s work comp act

On May 20, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Act prevents an employee’s tort claim against his work comp insurer because the Act provides an exclusive remedy.

‘Rare case’ exception to MN work comp treatment parameters tested at the MN Supreme Court

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed a decision on August 18 in a workers’ compensation case involving long-term opioid treatment.

Get to know an SFM employee: Patty Busse

When it comes to the important work of ensuring a consistently positive experience for its partners, SFM looks to Senior Content Strategist and User Experience Lead Patty Busse.

SFM Foundation golf fundraisers exceed expectations, events planned

The results are in for the 2021 SFM Foundation golf events, and the fundraising totals have set a new high-water mark. The golf events in Minnesota and Iowa raised more than $300,000 for the Foundation’s scholarship program.

SFM safety professional instructs shop teachers

SFM Loss Prevention Specialist Steve Lichtenberg gave a safety presentation to current and future middle school and high school shop teachers recently at St. Cloud State University.

Prepare to prevent winter slips and falls

Winter slips and falls are among the most common causes of workplace injuries. As an employer, there’s a great deal you can do to prevent these injuries at your workplace.

Get to know an SFM claims representative: Laurie Neagbour

SFM Claims Specialist Laurie Neagbour is a veteran of the workers’ compensation insurance business. She joined SFM in April of 1990 and has held positions in just about every corner of the company over the years.

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