Bidding for Premium or Bidding for a Broker?

Posted by Chris Nixon
Chris Nixon

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When evaluating athletic insurance partners, it is important to know that there are about 20 different insurance CARRIERS that are active in the collegiate athletic insurance market. Most insurance brokers have access to a handful of these carriers (some upwards of 15) and approach them for quotes on a given opportunity. The key here is that it is uncommon for an insurance carrier to release more than one quote per school. Therefore, the broker that is FIRST to bring an opportunity to that specific carrier is likely to be the only broker that will be allowed to offer that quote.

What this means to those of you who must undergo a public bid/RFP process periodically, is that there are many, perhaps better, athletic insurance brokers that are essentially "blocked" from obtaining quotes from the more competitive insurance carriers simply because they were not the first in the door with the necessary information.

This is all too common in athletic insurance and can be prevented by simply crafting your RFP to select the best broker based on their experience, abilities, added value, and their access to various markets and NOT based on price. In fact, broker services bids usually don't even ask for pricing at all. Rather, once the selected broker is awarded the contract (based on what they can do for you OUTSIDE of the cost), then he/she would begin to solicit quotes from all their available insurance carriers allowing you to then select based on price or whatever criteria you deem important. This will eliminate the risk of an inferior broker/bidder locking up the best insurance carrier's quote, forcing you to select them despite their lack of ability to provide the same level of service that other brokers (without that low quote) are able to bring your department.

The method of bidding strictly for an athletic insurance broker is popular amongst private institutions that are not restricted to the same state purchasing guidelines that public entities must adhere to. But, we have seen this strategy applied at many public institutions as well. It may require a bit more effort upfront to restructure your RFP wording, but it can be done within most state or system purchasing guidelines as well.

What are the key elements of a successful athletic insurance program that you may be missing if forced to take the lowest premium bid through a traditional RFP process?

Customer Service

I know, the customer service line can be overplayed. But, the role that great customer service plays in an athletic insurance program is paramount. Finding a broker that will answer your call at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning or have the resources to assist you while they are out of the office is important and should not be overlooked. Athletic injuries are often emergency situations that require a swift response from a great service team around you.

Value-added services

Brokers often provide free services as a way to differentiate themselves from the pack. These can include primary insurance assistance for your athletes, primary insurance verification, client/claims portal, insurance ID cards, etc. The best partners will bring a slew of added value to your program.

Stability and a long-term partner

Taking the "price" out of the equation promotes a sense of commitment to the partnership, inciting more collaboration and strategy on ways to better your program long-term- without the fear of the partnership ending the following year over a $100 difference in premium. And yes, that happens. Your broker/partner should be considered an extension of your athletic department in the way that they are vested in the success of your program.

Carrier perception or "credit"

Carriers in this space often keep tabs on frequent fliers in the annual RFP arena. If a carrier has invested time and effort into underwriting a couple of years in a row and has been unsuccessful for one reason or another, they become reluctant to even pursue a quote the next time that program goes out to bid. So while you think you may be casting a wide net with a public RFP, in reality, you may be limiting your carrier options each year.


Whether you find a way to bid for a broker or not, you should always incorporate verbiage in your RFP that allows for your college/university to make your decision based on the best VALUE for your institution versus being relegated to the lowest premium quoted. For more information or sample RFP templates, feel free to reach out to the Dissinger Reed team as we are happy to assist you.



Topics: Collegiate Athletic Insurance, Purchasing, Athletic Training, Athletics Administrators

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