Former National Association of Health Underwriters president Tom Harte has released a client-communications product aimed toward advisers looking for self-branded communication tools at a low price point.

Launched Jan. 7, BenefitLibrary provides subscribing advisers licensed access to compliance, legislation, employer and employee communications, wellness and state-specific informative articles.

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Harte first saw a need for the product when touring the country as NAHU president in 2013, when he met with mostly small to midsize agencies of 10-20 employees. President of Landmark Benefits in Hampstead, N.H., Harte began working on BenefitLibrary in December 2014, when he completed his term with NAHU, he says.

Harte used his experience as a broker and former NAHU president to build the product. “I am a broker and I know the frontline every single day,” he says. “I know the struggles we are all dealing with and know what our clients are asking for. I know [BenefitLibrary] will help my colleagues be more productive and … more efficient.”

Those struggles include competing with larger agencies that can offer the “extraordinary value of communications, presentations, marketing and tools and resources,” Harte says.

While most brokers can communicate the difference between health plans, they lack the ability to assemble research and information as it relates to the complexity of health insurance reform in an easy to understand manner, he says.

The new product is “very, very strong,” says Billy Bridwell, VP of the benefits division at Keystone Insurers Group in Elkhart, Ind., who has seen BenefitLibrary.

“I think it provides the resources that are needed in order to service clients at a very high level,” Bridwell adds. “It is very professional, branded to the agent specifically and [provides] the agents [with] those tailored resources to service clients.”

Industry disruption?

Harte believes his product will be transformative. However, some people have told him he is undercutting the market too much with his price point. “Our opinion is we are delivering a product that is the perfect price for the market,” Harte says.

Harte will charge an annual agency license of $2,500 with an average per user cost (agency users and clients) of $5 per month, with a minimum of 10 users. He expects the average agency will pay less than $5,000 a year.

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While there are a few other companies that offer a small quantity of branded documents, Harte says only his product and Zywave offer a substantial volume of communications materials. “Our price is significantly less expensive than our competitor, but we are confident in our price,” he says. To overcome that challenge, Harte says he plans to sell on volume, and aims to have 5,000 agencies using his product within five years.

Several brokers have said that Zywave, the leading competition, can be as much as $35,000 more expensive annually. Zywave declined to comment on specifics, but released a statement: “Thanks to our 20 years of strong partnerships with more than 3,500 of the nation’s top brokers, Zywave can deliver the most powerful, proven suite of solutions for growth and retention available. Our singular focus is on our broker partners’ success and strong ROI on their relationship with us.”

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