With the new year underway, California Broker recently asked me to share my thoughts on the state of the health insurance industry, and how General Agents are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below I’m happy to share my expanded answers with all of our brokers in response to magazine’s survey.
1. How has the ongoing pandemic impacted your business at this point?
The pandemic has afforded Word & Brown the opportunity to find new and creative ways to work. We have heavily invested in a complete digital transformation of our organization, and we’re starting to experience significant efficiency gains as a result.
It will continue to be imperative for all of us to invest in technology systems, tools, and resources to ensure our staff members have everything they need to be effective in their diverse roles across the organization – and to address the evolving needs of brokers and your clients.
A remote deployment strategy is no longer uncommon in our industry. All of us need to be adaptive to technology advances and changing expectations from our brokers and your customers.
2. How can a GA most help agents in today’s climate?
Brokers want their General Agency partners to be an extension of their own servicing divisions. We need to continue to handle servicing, quoting, and enrollment, which so many brokers are struggling to find time/resources to support.
We can also eliminate brokers’ account management and online enrollment burdens by offering them new ways to enhance their value proposition. At Word & Brown, we’re committed to delivering a wide range of services to help the average broker reach new sales heights and achieve greater retention in 2022.
3. What are your biggest concerns for the industry right now?
The health insurance industry is facing many challenges. Technology companies continue to enter our space with the goal of creating greater efficiencies, sometimes falling short. Payroll firms are selling benefits administration platforms without understanding the market and potential connectivity/integration issues.
Brokers are facing new legislation and compliance burdens, especially related to COVID and employer/employee mandates. There’s also the new compensation disclosure for brokers that took effect in late December. Just recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) and Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) released long-awaited guidance to help brokers better understand the new disclosure requirements. For details, refer to Paul Roberts’s January 2021 Compliance article in our Newsroom.
Other challenges – for our industry and your and our clients – include increased talent poaching and customer retention. Employees moving out of the Golden State presents an added problem, too; it is increasingly difficult to offer certain provider networks and meet carrier participation requirements for some California-based plans.
A Bright Future, Together
There is a trend toward brokerage mergers and acquisitions. However, Word & Brown remains committed to staying independent. We believe our independence allows us to work smarter and more quickly. We are able to determine the direction of our company based on what you tell us you need.
Our commitment to “Service of Unequalled Excellence” has never been stronger.
I know, working together, we can make 2022 successful.