We recently spoke to one of our newest storefronts, Bill It Now, a division of Billing Management Services (BMS), about the service they provide to insurance carriers, MGAs, and Program Administrators (PAs). Chris Clark, Managing Partner, and Chris Smith, Marketing Director, shared how their billing solutions serve the complete needs of the program insurance industry.
Chris Clark has been managing BMS since it was founded in 2003. He has extensive experience developing policy issuance and agency management systems, and managing their integration with carrier and billing systems. His background is in technology, and he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Management Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Chris Smith joined BMS earlier this year, after spending more than 15 years working in the financial industry managing broker relationships throughout New England for companies such as Wachovia and Wells Fargo. He is responsible for BMS’ marketing and business development. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Western New England University.
Bill It Now was born out of the need for Program Administrators to seamlessly bill policies using a solution that was designed around their needs. The traditional carrier direct bill model is flawed, according to Mr. Clark, when used in an MGA or PA environment because the retail agent is completely cut out of the billing cycle. “Since the MGA or PA is the only entity actually appointed with the carrier, all of the billing correspondence is sent in their name, which causes confusion to the insured. What’s worse is the retail agent can’t service a billing question since the carrier won’t release any information to them about the insured, since they aren’t the recognized agent of record. This is a huge, fundamental flaw in the wholesale distribution model recognized by the founding partners of Bill it Now,” says Mr. Clark.
The founders of Bill It Now own a large MGA that underwrites over $100,000,000 in annual premiums. In their search for a better billing solution they found that no such solution existed in the program business space so they endeavored to build one from the ground up and in doing so address all of the flaws they identified in the billing process from their own experience as a large MGA. “We viewed this distribution problem as a deterrent for a retail agent to work with an MGA when they had the option to place an account directly with a carrier; we wanted to remove that obstacle of doing business with our MGA”, says Mr. Clark. “From this need, Bill It Now was created.”
Bill it Now is the perfect direct bill solution for program business as it solves all the major flaws of using a carrier direct bill platform, such as:
- All invoices and correspondence are in the name of the retail agency and the carrier, eliminating any confusion to the insured and giving your retail agent needed recognition.
- Commissions are distributed directly to the retail agent from Bill it Now, eliminating tedious direct bill reconciliation.
- A simple and smart branded web interface allows the insured and the retail agent to self service their billing questions and, when they have a question that can’t be answered on the website, they call the Bill it Now call center, which is staffed domestically with smart, knowledgeable insurance professionals that can answer their questions.
- Online payments are available via ACH or Credit Card for a single or recurring payment schedule, reducing costly cancellations for non-payment of premium.
- The Bill it Now Smart Lock-box technology blocks checks from being deposited against cancelled accounts and automatically sends an email to the MGA seeking instructions to either deposit the check, or return it un-cashed.
- The platform has a custom integration with ODEN, which ensures that legal notices of cancellation are compliant with all states.
Mr. Clark explains: “Our capabilities include single or multiple policy billing on one invoice for all P&C classes of business, health insurance, and even “pay as go” worker’s compensation policies.”
“The Bill it Now solution is simply the only solution for a carrier or MGA/PA looking to streamline their billing workflow in a way that’s specifically designed around wholesale distribution,” says Mr. Smith. “It’s much more than a software solution, it’s a complete outsource of your billing department leaving the MGA or PA with the ability to focus on their core revenue strategy: selling insurance. We support all aspects of an organization’s billing needs – from the technology and systems, to the call center for fielding billing questions from insureds and retail agents, to the accounting including premium and commission distributions and reconciliation, it’s the most complete solution you’ll find in the market today and it gives the MGA a level of service they could never replicate in house.”
One of the key attributes of the Bill it Now platform is its flexibility. “Virtually every aspect of the platform and process are customizable – the installment schedules, payment terms, invoice, website branding, and reporting are all designed around our clients’ needs”, says Mr. Clark.
Since its launch in 2003, Bill It Now has grown to be the premier direct bill solution for many major insurance carriers, MGAs, and Program Administrators. It’s the preferred platform by retailers due to its clear and informative format as well as its online capabilities.
When asked why Bill It Now is such a valuable solution for program business, there are several critical reasons that stand out. “Billing is a non-revenue generating activity that when handled poorly can only stand to damage the relationship between and MGA and their retailer,” says Mr. Clark. “The typical MGA is not set up to manage the billing process in a way that can replicate the scope of services provided by a service provider like Bill it Now. I believe that our ability to offer a first-class billing solution that adds value instead of expense to the MGA is what makes Bill It Now such a popular solution. We’re finding that carriers are seeing our platform as a value-added service that they can offer to their MGAs and the carriers are now using our platform to have a competitive advantage over those that only offer a traditional direct bill solution or no direct bill solution for that matter,” says Mr. Clark. “The other reason we’re finding our solution has become so popular is the speed and ease of implementation. In this competitive marketplace where carriers are competing so strongly for program business, they find it very attractive to know there’s a billing solution that can be implemented in weeks, not months,” explains Mr. Smith.
Another important benefit of Bill It Now is that retail agents find the billing easy to understand. “When you think about it from a retailer’s perspective,” says Mr. Clark, “the brokers are accustomed to dealing with all sorts of different billing systems and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. They know what works well and what doesn’t. Our experience has been that when a client announces they’re moving their billing solutions to us, the retail agents are extremely pleased because they’re familiar with us from other programs they sell, and are happy to see the invoicing for a particular book of business moved to our system.”
Bill It Now can provide billing solutions for books of business of any size. The fee structure is straight forward and very reasonable, in fact, in some cases there may be no cost to an MGA or PA. Future plans include a payroll reporting feature for Workers Comp, and an agency billing function, which are scheduled for release in first quarter 2012.
“This is our passion,” says Mr. Clark. “Our customers’ passion is to write more business. We can help them do this by providing a customized service that costs less than what they’re doing today, is far more efficient, and will free them up to generate more growth.”
”This is truly a one of a kind service that we’re providing to the program business industry”, says Mr. Smith. “We’re the only ones offering a complete billing solution that incorporates both the technology and service.”