St. Paul, Minn. -- A study of insurance brokers and consultants' attitudes about relationships with group life insurers shows they place high value on technology and good service and little value on freebies."The study confirmed our assumptions about how best to approach benefits brokers and consultants," says Paula Bilitz, marketing manager, Minnesota Life Group Insurance. "Professionalism rules, with a clear focus on how best to serve the employer-client."

For the study, 30 employee benefits brokers and consultants were interviewed nationwide. Several conclusions can be drawn about what these "intermediaries" look for in group life insurance carriers:

· Carriers must be service-oriented. For the intermediaries and their clients, excellent service means quick responses to phone calls and e-mails, quick answers to questions, fast resolution of problems, on-time delivery of materials, and user-friendly technology.

· Technology is important to intermediaries and their clients. Clients reportedly "want to do everything online," and intermediaries would like the same, or similar, access to provide better service to their clients. Forms, certificates, contracts, case management reports, employee booklets, and billing should be on-line in a user-friendly format.

· Carriers must be financially strong, meaning they are A-rated or better by A.M. Best, Standard & Poor's, or Moody's.

· Intermediaries might enjoy an occasional lunch with a carrier's rep, but far more important is the carrier's ability to meet the client's needs. Without fulfilling this requirement, a carrier isn't going to win or keep business. Intermediaries discourage dinners, golf outings, sporting events, or trips for a number of reasons: they don't have the time or interest, they don't want to feel obligated to a carrier, they don't want the appearance of impropriety, or they are prohibited by company policy from accepting such perks.

The study shows that rates, service, financial ratings, and reputation are among the factors that affect the group insurance carriers' standing with benefits brokers and consultants. Results also suggested that while competitive rates help win business, poor service will certainly lose it.

"We're serious about providing best in class service to brokers and consultants," says Bilitz. "We used the results of the survey to reinforce the approaches that are clearly our strengths--such as online self-service--and to identify areas where we can develop new competencies."

Source: Minnesota Life

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