Insurance. There’s probably not a more disliked or misunderstood word for paratransit transportation companies. It’s very expensive and probably seems illogical that it cost so much. The first step in controlling your insurance financial destiny is to truly understand as much as possible about the entire insurance distribution process. Unlike low hazard industries, the big direct writing insurance companies (i.e. – Allstate, Progressive, State Farm, etc.) will not write paratransit as a class of business, which requires you to work with an independent agent. Selecting your independent agent is one of the most important decisions you will make in controlling your insurance cost and securely positioning your company for financial success.
We believe the following key characteristics need to be fully explored to ensure you are getting the best overall representation and return for your money:
1. Industry Experience. Non-emergency medical transportation is unlike any other form of passenger transportation as respects standards of care, levels of service, payment sources, contractual obligations, vehicle and driver requirements, and more. Your agent needs to be widely versed in all aspects of the industry in order to help mentor your company operationally which is a key component to insurance companies underwriting evaluations, where coverage terms and pricing are determined.
2. Carrier Representation. Independent agencies must “contract to represent” an insurance company, whereby there’s a formal contractual relationship between the agency and the insurance carrier that specifies all aspects of the business relationship. Very few insurance companies are currently writing paratransit operators at this time so it’s critical that your agent be contracted with as many insurance carriers writing in this industry as possible so that your options are maximized.
3. Agency Infrastructure and Commitment. Agencies are typically small companies themselves, working to balance profitability and performance. There are system tools that agencies can purchase that enhance the agency’s operational efficiencies while simultaneously enhancing client engagement, simplify communications, include better payment options, source lower cost driver screenings, and more. Is your representing agency investing in their people and systems to ensure you, the paying client, have the best communications and lowest operational costs?
4. Personal Relationship. All business engagements have some form of relationship, but has it evolved to the personal level? At the personal level both parties are able to “open up” and be completely blunt and honest with each other, allowing a level of mutual communication that cannot be held otherwise. During that process both parties can learn and grow from each other, creating mutual respect and in some cases lifelong friendships.
Independent agents are generally hardworking people who are trying to make a living, just like you. They have many of the same challenges that you do from recruiting, training and mentoring employees as well as managing their cash flow and payment of bills. When you have an agency relationship that meets the four characteristics above you have reached the pinnacle, and should be thrilled in your investment of time to find and build that relationship. If you don’t have these components in your agency relationship, we encourage you to keep looking because it can and will make a difference to the success of your company in many ways beyond just the procurement of insurance.