Whether it’s a bar association, a teachers union, a club or professional society, affinity groups know that one of the best ways to attract and retain membership is to offer insurance to their members. In fact, many are looking to add health care benefits to their growing lists of membership benefits. Providing access to an array of member benefits including insurance is not only a proven way for attracting and retaining members,  but it is also a way to generate non-dues revenues to help these groups not only survive but thrive in these tough economic times.   

However, there is a big misconception in the broker world that the affinity or association business is old and tired, and groups are disinterested or unwilling to expand their insurance programs. This may be because brokers have fallen into the habit of offering the same products and services to these groups over the years, instead of considering which products would best meet the group members’ needs, and how these additional benefits could foster growth for the organization as a whole.

Today, the association and affinity market is estimated to be a $40 billion industry in the United States, according to Bill Tyson, a veteran affinity benefits consultant and CEO of Strategic Marketing Plus. Approaching this market with a broader view can provide an opportunity for brokers to adapt their business models and thrive, especially as the new healthcare landscape takes shape.

After all, it is a fact that brokers who sell Property & Casualty usually shy away from Life & Health – and vice versa.  Tyson believes the industry is approximately 30% property and casualty and 70% life, accident, and health. Therefore, if you want to be the right broker for the affinity and association market, you must be willing to cross the great divide and embrace all types of products. 

To offer the best solution for prospective clients, a broker should be able to offer the following to their affinity and association clients a “turn-key” solution with a:

  • A full range of competitively priced products
  • Customized packaging and favorable terms geared towards the group
  • Exceptional service
  • Advocacy when claims occur

By stepping up their level of expertise in unfamiliar coverage types, brokers can steer affinity clients toward a more diverse insurance offering – ultimately leading to increased non-dues revenues  and retention rates for the group and a happier membership overall. The opportunity truly is a win-win-win for affinity groups, their membership and brokers.
If you’re a broker with tough questions, I’m here to provide unbiased answers and feedback to help you take the next step in adapting your business. Feel free to leave your question in the comments.

Fleet is president of AmWINS Group Benefits, a wholesale broker of comprehensive group insurance programs and administrative services. He can be reached at asksam@amwins.com.


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