Advisers disrupt the benefits market through C-suite action

This story originally appeared on www.employeebenefitadviser.com

October 2, 2017

Disrupt or be disrupted. You hear the word ‘disruption’ a lot. But what does that really mean? Instead of a definition, fellow advisers can show you what disruption in the benefits industry looks like, in their own words.

Derek Rine, partner at David Rine Insurance in Akron, Ohio, took advantage of a prospect’s souring relationship with its existing broker.

“The CFO told me he was giving all 11 of the company’s benefit plans to our firm. He said he hadn’t seen a single one of our strategies or tools — not one — from their incumbent, [a top-10 national agency], or from [a large regional agency] that had been promised the AOR.”

After hearing that this company was unhappy with the incumbent, Rine realized he had to meet with the CFO to present his firm’s value proposition. He knew that no HR department would ever hire a small local insurance agency to replace a national house or large regional player. But the CFO would — and did. Disruption wins.

Kim Eckelbarger, president of Tropical Risk Management in Tampa, Fla., also took her expertise directly to the C-suite.

“I walked out of the meeting — the first meeting! — with the letter of record. I didn’t have to write a new plan document or even quote the business. I got the account because I was able to explain to the CFO, in his language, how we can help him take control of the benefit spend and reduce the cost of healthcare.”

Eckelbarger had specifically requested a meeting with the CFO of the 58-life company, knowing she had the language and the solutions only a C-level executive would appreciate. Disruption wins.

Both Bob Gearhart, Sr., and Bob Gearhart, Jr., partners at DCW Group in Youngstown, Ohio, put their compensation on the line to emphasize their confidence in their consulting capabilities.

“We met with the president and CFO of a 160-man trucking company and showed them how moving to a transparent PBM would eliminate huge Rx costs. We were so confident in our ability to make an impact that we put part of our compensation at risk to prove it. They gave us the BOR — ending a 15-year relationship with [a large regional broker],” says Gearhart, Jr.

DCW Group brought in another, 275-life group using their standard practice of refusing to quote insurance business. “I’m nine slides and 20 minutes into my presentation: Standing up, the owner interrupts me and says, ‘Get started,’ and leaves the room,” says Gearhart, Sr.

This group was DCW Group’s 10th BOR in just four months since DCW began refusing to quote under any circumstances. Instead, talking to owners and CFOs about the failure of the status quo and how to take control of the benefits spend and reduce healthcare costs. Disruption wins.

Brian Tolbert, benefits practice leader at Bernard Health in Nashville, Tenn., emphasized his firm’s ability to be nimble and shift with the market in a recent prospect meeting.

“Once I presented our solutions, the HR director challenged me, ‘So why haven’t we seen any of this before?’ After I let her question sink in with the CFO, I told her and the CFO, ‘Let me suggest why this is all new to you. Innovation doesn’t come from [national agency incumbent]. Innovation comes from nimble, independent benefits firms like Bernard Health.’ Two days later, we get a call that they are moving the 200-life group to us.”

After losing a 50-life client to acquisition by a 150-life company headquartered in another state, Tolbert secured a meeting with their CFO to present Bernard Health’s proprietary HR and ben admin solution and two proprietary alternative funding strategies. Disruption wins.

NextGeneration Benefits Firms like these are disrupting the industry daily. If they can win business from the big national houses, how safe is any status quo broker? You have a choice: You’re either the steamroller or you’re the pavement. Disrupt or be disrupted.”