Writing an effective Request For Proposal (RFP) for athletic insurance can be challenging. Over the past 37 years in the athletic insurance business, we've seen roughly 5,000 RFPs from thousands of higher education institutions. We have a pretty good idea of what needs to be included and what should be excluded to help you sift through the bidder responses and find the best fit for your program. Here are some general guidelines to follow when writing (or updating) your athletic insurance RFP, RFQ or RFI.
Keep it simple
Provide the basic benefit requirements that you need but don't get caught up in the nitty gritty as there is a lot of insurance jargon that differs by policy form but general accident insurance benefits are fairly standard. By keeping the RFP clear and concise, it allows your staff to easily review and ensure that bidders have met the requirements that you've set forth. This also allows bidders the clearly define the requirements to the carrier and ensure they are meeting your standard.
Leave the requirements regarding the policy "design" open ended
It is fair to assume that most companies responding to your athletic insurance bid are industry experts as this is a very niche type of coverage. Therefore, defining what type of specific plan design that you think you need could limit the creativity in the offers that you get and close the door on valuable insight into how your program could be better structured. Similar to prescribing your own medication prior to your doctor diagnosing the injury. Allowing the bidders to provide different and potentially unique strategies can only give you more to choose from and bring ideas that you may not have seen in the past.
Get internal feedback and input prior to releasing the RFP
Since your athletic department (specifically, athletic trainers) are the ones that are handling athletic injuries and dealing with all the insurance paperwork, it is best to take time to find out what is important to them and where they may see room for improvement. Then you can find a place to incorporate their input into the specifications of the RFP. For example, if the athletic trainer has experienced denied claims or has athletes in collections then you should write in specific language asking bidders to provide insight into when/why claims would be denied and what a bidder does to prevent bills from going to collections.
Include a section for "value added" services or features
Providing an open ended section that allows bidders to showcase the services or benefits that differentiate their offering can make it a lot easier to review and rate each bidder. If no space is provided, bidders will often try to include as much as they can within other sections of the proposal which can muddy the waters and lead to confusion during the review. These value added services are really what separate bidders in this space so pay special attention to this section and score it appropriately.
Be honest with yourself and bidders as to what really matters in the RFP process
If you have a weighted scoring system and your (often rushed) evaluation committee gives each bidder the same score on qualifications, adherence to scope of RFP, benefits and overall presentation, then what you are really ranking the bids on is the cost. While cost may be the most important factor when procuring supplies for campus, there is much more to athletic insurance. Allowing cost to be the driving factor can be very detrimental to the long-term success and stability of the program. Further, get rid of Best and Final Offer (BAFO) as you want bidders to provide their best offer as their initial and final offer, don't you?
As a service to the higher education risk management community, we are happy to share our expertise at any time. We have examples of great athletic insurance RFPs that we can send you in hopes that it may help your efforts and save your valuable time. Please contact us at www.dissingerreed.com