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A Conversation With ... Trevor Croley

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What’s on the horizon for Croley Insurance after its expansion into Mount Vernon this summer? Do you have plans to expand into other markets?
We celebrated our 70th anniversary last year and have had some experience with other areas where we had satellite offices. We want to grow organically as opposed to a model a lot of people are using where they will just go out and buy other businesses and try to make them work. That’s not to say we wouldn’t take steps down the road to purchase, we just feel like we have better control over our business and what we’re doing and the people that we want to be associated with if we create it on our own. Our model is looking over the next couple of years; we have identified four or five other locations in which we’d like to be in. The first step was Mount Vernon.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the insurance industry?
At the very beginning, it was panic. Nobody really knew what was covered. While a lot of businesses decided to go mobile or work from home, we did not feel that was going to be a good model for us or for the people that we work for simply because we got so many phone calls. Some businesses were adding more people to their rosters. And, unfortunately, a large majority of especially of our larger clients, they had to let people go. That’s when we had to really shine. Cover notices had to go out, explanations of how health plans worked went through the moon. We’ve lately seen there was a very large pent-up demand for medical services during that period of time. That has put an awful lot more pressure back on the systems and the insurance carriers. We’ve had quite a few questions about how COVID relates to insurance policies in general. This could be the medical policy. It could be a disability policy. It could be workplace (compensation) policies. Almost every insurance company has a COVID policy. Unfortunately, we’ve had to act on these quite a bit. A lot more than you might think.

A campaign promise of President-elect Joe Biden is expanding public options for health insurance. How will that impact private insurance and the insurance industry?
The Affordable Care Act is still in effect. President [Donald] Trump took the sting of the individual mandate a little off the table. The mandates are still there. The employer mandates are still there, all the darn filings that you have to deal with. It’s just there was no financial penalty. One of the first things that’s probably going to happen is that component is probably back on the table. I think people are going to be required to buy health coverage, and if you didn’t, then you’re going to have a financial penalty. A lot of us were not in favor of the Affordable Care Act when it came out. The system itself isn’t completely broken. There are certain things in there that are fabulous.

How have the other areas of your business changed this year?
On the property-casualty side, cybersecurity insurance has been a huge concern for a lot of businesses. There’s been an awful lot of construction growth over the last year. Our employee benefits division has probably doubled over the last three years, really from the growth of a couple of programs that were launched in the last three years through the Missouri Chamber of Commerce [and Industry]. I’ve never seen a program that’s done so much for businesses as that and costs associated with health care than that Missouri Chamber health plan.

We’re in enrollment season. How are rates comparing in 2021?
On the individual side with the marketplace, there will be options for people and those options will actually drop their rates. A company called Medica is new in the area. They’re going to be slightly lower than what you’ve seen in past years. Ambetter, their rates went up 3%-4%. Cox HealthPlans went up maybe more like 10%-15%. Anthem has went up probably more like 10%-15%. If you look at small businesses, if you’re on an ACA plan, you’re probably on an average looking at about a 7%-10% increase. If you’re on the Missouri Chamber plan, it’s probably going to end up being more like a 7%. We’ve seen a lot of these larger commercial accounts probably hovering slightly above national average, which is probably more around the range of 8%-15%. We’re not getting any rate passes like we have in previous years.

Trevor Croley can be reached at tcroley@croleyinsurance.com.

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