Committee votes to keep same insurance broker for another year

Friday, May 2, 2014

By Karen Hall


When commissioners on the county's Employee Benefits committee resumed their meeting Tuesday, they knew they had to choose an insurance broker for the county, or at least shorten the list, and the meeting ended with the decision to continue with Brown & Brown, the current broker.

The previous week, in a very long meeting, committee members heard 30-minute presentations from six different companies, each of which would like the county's insurance business.

"We're going to get together and discuss it and narrow it down," said Budget Director Catherine Brooks, before the meeting began.

"It was my understanding we were going to vote on it tonight," said committee chairman Rocky Bowden.

"We're picking a broker," clarified committee member Mickey King.

"What's wrong with putting two or three on the table?" asked committee member Nathan Johnson.

"I understood there was a rush to decide on this," said Bowden. "We've got to have somebody selected by June 1 to have our people enrolled by July 1. If we select a broker tonight they can start negotiating with the insurance companies."

Johnson said he would be looking at the technology each company said they could offer, while committee member Sheldon Davis said he would go for the one with the best customer service.

"It's any way the committee wishes to do this," said Bowden. He suggested calling the roll, with each committee member naming his two favorite brokers. This was agreed, and Davis named Brown & Brown and Collins & Miller. Bowden made the same choice, while Johnson and King chose Brown & Brown and CBIZ. This cut the choices down to three, but a second round of voting produced no change.

"This isn't working very well," exclaimed Bowden. "Brown & Brown is obviously going to be one of the choices."

A motion to definitely select a broker was unanimously approved, and committee members were called on to vote for just one of the three on the short list.

Three men voted for Brown & Brown, while Bowden cast his vote for Collins & Miller.

"Brown & Brown will be our broker," Bowden announced.

At the presentation the previous week, Paul Roussel of Brown & Brown said, "We really appreciate you guys have allowed us to serve you. We've been servicing your account for a while. We do everything we can to make benefits work correctly. We do get hands-on with your employees -- we handle appeals and case management; we give advice and negotiate bills. We will fight for the county!"

Roussel gave information about a number of possible health insurance plans for county employees, all with advantages, and disadvantages. He said Brown & Brown can also provide "wellness coordination." This is important because an essential way to reduce county employees' insurance claims is for them to become healthier. This includes losing weight, exercising more, eating better, and stopping smoking.

The second place broker, Collins & Miller, is, of course, local. Their presentation last week was made by Jason Terry.

"We would be your hometown local agent," he said. "I am the go-to person for health and life insurance."

Collins & Miller work as broker and consultant for several local clients, including one with over 100 employees, and are fully trained in all 2014 healthcare issues, Terry said.

Jon Chaney made the presentation for CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services of Tennessee. It is "the largest employee benefit firm in the country," and is the first to find out about changes in the insurance market, he said. CBIZ has technical consultants, attorneys, actuaries, and strategic wellness coordinators ready to help their clients.

"We have leverage through volume," Chaney said. "We have tools and resources; we can customize platforms from the largest to the smallest."

Other contenders for the county's insurance business included Select Pointe, Benefits Inc., and The Malone Company.