Given the hodgepodge of formats, it was relatively easy for some under-the-table wheeling and dealing to occur. BenefitPoints Aptus makes the process much more transparent and eliminates the difficulty of e-mailing files aroundwhich has the added benefit of eliminating the possibility of e-mail virus transmission. According to Kurt de Grosz, BenefitPoints founder and senior vice president of sales, Aptus is a CRM (customer relationship management) and procurement system. It takes what CRM does and what Web-based procurement does and ties them together. "Theres a lot of CRM out there, but BenefitPoint is the first one designed for employee benefits," De Grosz says. There have been agency management systems (by companies such as AMS and Applied) that provide software to insurance brokers and accounting professionals, but those applications have been focused on property and casualty insurance. Other applications did not effectively addressed employee benefits, de Grosz says, adding that Aptus addresses a significant need for brokers.That package, along with basic client data, is then entered into the BenefitPoint platform, which helps Woodruff-Sawyer track history with a customer. Robinson also specifies the package she wants the carriers to fulfill and puts that into the platform. To read about QIF importing finally nearing its end, click here. Then Robinson goes to market, picking carriers she wants to respond to her RFP and telling them which options must be included. "With the Web-based application, we dont have to send around a lot of e-mails with attachments," Robinson says. "We are also automatically in compliance with HIPAA. We can track when the RFP went out, and carriers can immediately respond, We intend to quote." Robinson said she can see when a carrier has viewed an RFP even if they havent responded. Carriers then respond online, either by entering rates into the BenefitPoint system or by sending a hard copy or an e-mail with attachments. Then Robinson and her crew decide what to show their customers by entering the rates and associated benefits. "Now, we can compare benefits side by side and see what the differences are," Robinson says. Once a winner is picked, BenefitPoint populates the history file with the newly adopted plan. The system also can capture discussions with carriers automatically, such as, "We heard you say you were going to cut your rates on this product," and get a carrier response. The communication is permanently stored in the system and cannot be edited, providing a clear audit trail of the process the broker went through to fulfill their clients requirements. Next Page: Getting up to speed on client history.
Andrea Robinson, a broker with San Francisco-based Woodruff-Sawyer, has been using the BenefitPoint product for more than four years. When she starts putting together a package for a new client, she first sits down and evaluates the clients existing employee benefits.