Tips when evaluating new insurance options

When looking at new insurance options, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to separate all the information from the competing proposals you have received, and to work out what option is the best for you. This can become especially daunting if you have limited or no knowledge of the insurance industry and how it works, so with this article, we aim to provide you with a few tips and pointers to head you in the right direction.

insurance blocks

Secure Multiple Quotes

This is likely an obvious tip, but you will want to secure multiple quotes from a few different sources. A good starting point would be to request proposals from 3 or 4 different providers, and you can always bring more companies into the fold at a later date. By limiting the initial number of companies you contact, you will avoid making the task too overwhelming. You can talk to your partners and competitors to draw up an initial list of companies to reach out to, and ideally you will want to make sure they have some experience in the cultural exchange and youth travel market.

This is where brokers are able to provide assistance — brokers are often able to obtain multiple quotes from the leading industry insurance carriers. By going directly to an insurance company, you will have to repeat the process with every carrier you talk with, but with an insurance broker, you’ll have one point of contact to assist you. Working with a broker will save you time and energy, and typically make the process much smoother.

Compare High Line Benefits and Exclusions

If you are working with a broker, they will do this for you, but a quick excel spreadsheet is a great starting point to compare the high line benefits and exclusions of the different plan options you’ve received.

A few of the key items you will want to capture in this excel sheet are:

  • Carrier Name
  • Provider Network
  • Policy Maximum
  • Deductible
  • ER Deductible
  • Coinsurance
  • Notable Medical Benefits
    • List out the key main benefits and limits of the plan that are most important to your organization
  • Exclusions
    • List out any exclusions which you think are not agreeable to you
  • Extras
    • What extra services or benefits do they offer? This could include telemedicine services, mental health services, assistance services, mobile apps, etc...
  • Price

This quick excel sheet will help you keep track of your proposals, and will allow you to quickly summarize and drill down on the options that work best for you, especially if you have multiple quotes from one carrier for different plan levels and options.

Non-Insurance Benefits

While the key insurance benefits will be captured in your high line summary (as outlined above), there are a number of non-insurance benefits that are also very important to your insurance plan and how it runs. A few of the key areas you should look at:

  • Service
    • What service points are available to your participants? Online, phone, email?
  • Claims
    • How can claims be submitted? Online, email, mail, fax?
    • How long will they take to be processed?
    • Can they be tracked online?
    • What if the process if a claim is denied?
  • Enrollments
    • How are your enrollments managed? Online system, excel sheets?
    • Are documents sent to participants via email or mail?
    • How can updates and cancellations be made?
  • Account Management
    • Who will be your team's dedicated account manager?
    • What experience do they have managing cultural exchange accounts?
    • How responsive will they be?

Verify Insurance Rating

This is sometimes overlooked, but the carriers insurance rating is a very important aspect of any insurance plan. This is especially true for those groups that have participants in the USA on the J1 visa, as it's a State Department requirement for the J1 visa that certain levels are met. The requirements for the J1 visa are:

  • A policy underwritten by an insurance carrier with:
    • an A.M. Best rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above;
    • a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims paying Ability rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above;
    • a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of ‘‘B+’’ or above;
    • a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above;
    • a Moody’s Investor Services rating of ‘‘A3’’ or above;

Don’t be fooled into accepting a rating from a parent company or partner company that an insurance carrier works with - the rating should be from the insurance carrier that is writing your business and should meet one of the above standards.

We have a detailed article about insurance ratings and why they are important, so we will not go into a huge amount of detail here about that.

Seek References

There is no better gauge on an insurance carrier than to talk to some of their existing clients. It will give you an excellent insight into all aspects of how they operate, any challenges they may have and give an overall impression of the services they offer. As one of the final steps in your process, you should reach out to some of their existing clients and obtain a reference. Any insurance carrier would be more than happy to provide this, and you should aim to get between 3 and 5 references for you to choose from.

There can be many other points that are important to you, and perhaps you have previous pain points that are of particular interest for you, but hopefully this list has highlighted some key areas you should consider when looking at the insurance options available to you.

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Participant Student Zone

For future or current participants who are insured on our plans, you can view all the details about your plan through your Student Zone. You can find this information in your welcome email and insurance ID card. If you cannot find this, please contact us.