The insurance business will see a shift into more an advisor role due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), particularly as smaller businesses look for compliance guidance, according to William Trudeau, CPCU, CEO of Agawam, Mass.-based Insurance Center of New England (ICNE). Speaking to members of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield (YPS) less than 48 hours ago on Wednesday, September 25, Trudeau detailed some of the changes insurance agencies are facing moving forward, and how small businesses can benefit from a larger agency.
Until approximately one year ago, ICNE was focused on what every other insurance agency did: working with providers and employers to find health, life, disability, vision and other group insurance plans to fit their needs. The company set up administrative online portals and helped employees navigate benefits.
Then PPACA, better known as Obamacare, kicked in. It became a huge administrative burden for businesses, particularly smaller ones that didn't have a full-time, dedicated human resources staff, Trudeau said. ICNE made the decision to embrace compliance as part of its offerings and partnered with Sullivan, Hayes & Quinn, a Springfield-based law firm, as well as offering up its own vice president of human resources to help advise its clients. Now compliance is a large part of the business.
"Compliance has taken on a life of its own, and quoting (policies) has taken a backseat," he said. ICNE's clients are looking to them for strategic advice, particularly those in the 20-50 employee range that can't afford a human resources manager, he said.
By partnering with a law firm, ICNE is able to offer better answers to its clients as to what they need to do to comply with the law, which helps its small business customers avoid an added human resource expense in tough times. Insurance agencies may continue to shift to compliance as Obamacare takes hold, but one thing has been clear, Trudeau said:
"I missed the affordable part of that tax."