Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Stupid Carrier Tricks: Umpteenth Edition

Sometimes, it seems as if we could populate this blog exclusively with stories of the dumb things insurance companies do. Of course, we’d have to change its name, but still.

Our latest installment in this “series” comes from Anthem Blue Cross/Shield, which has notified those of us who sell their group plans of their newest requirement: when submitting a Request for Proposal, we must now include the Federal ID number (EIN) of the group in question. This is idiotic.

Why, you may ask?

Well for a number of reasons:

First, employers are no less subject to identity theft than indiviuals, but Anthem’s not requiring us to submit those when getting a quote [ed: Hush! Don’t give ‘em any ideas!]. (And, yes, most of us do quote individual products on our own PC’s, but not all agents have this ability)

Second, and IMHO, more egregious, is that this effectively shuts out competition. How so? Simple: if one is not the incumbent agent, how likely is it that a prospect (who may be a referral, or a cold call, or a friend of a friend) will be likely to part with that information simply to obtain a quote? More likely, they’ll just call their existing agent and avoid the bother.

Third, what possible reason would a carrier have to require this information simply to provide a quote? It’s just one more example of heavy handed tactics that occur when a carrier dominates a given market.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

(There, I feel better already!)

UPDATE: It gets dumber [ed: this is possible?]. Since there's no way for Anthem to verify the abovementioned EIN, why wouldn't agents simply make one up for quoting purposes? What's the worst that could happen? "Here's a new, sold case. Oh, I accidentally included an incorrect EIN with the quote request? Gee, I'm sorry."
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