In the May issue of Land Line, we’ll get up close and personal withthe association’s biggest service department, truck insurance.
OOIDA’s Medical Benefits Group was founded in the early years of OOIDA as a resource for truckers needing a quote or information on various medical policies. Even in the ’70s, OOIDA was aware truckers needed medical benefits and needed to plan for the future.
- Do you have workers’ compensation?
No, we do not offer workers’ comp, but we do offer occupational accident coverage as an alternative for those not required to carry workers’ compensation.
- Do you offer a major medical benefits plan?
Yes, we have five deductible options. Rates are based on age, geographical location, number of dependents and deductible option.
- How do I find out if I’m eligible to participate?
If you are an owner-operator, a driver or work at least 1,500 hours a year in the industry, you are eligible to apply for the different benefit plans.
In the beginning, Mary Johnston (now supervisor of OOIDA’s Business Services department) handled the majority of medical inquiries, but as the organization grew, so did the need to make it a separate department. Supervisor Brenda Reynolds and assistant supervisor Kari Russell began developing the department in the mid-80s into the comprehensive operation it is today.
The Medical Benefits Group helps truckers who don’t have the time to investigate medical benefit plans right for them. If a truckdriver needs to add to his or her medical portfolio, the department’s knowledgeable staff is the place to inquire about the many available programs. Agents Brenda Casey, Kat Coyle, Donna Edlin, Mary Morris, Tammy Reynolds, Kari Russell and Pat Simpson are always available to answer member questions or give a quote on a particular product.
OOIDA’s medical department offers benefits to truckdrivers at competitive rates by eliminating the middleman. In the early years OOIDA offered only major medical, dental, term life and occupational accident insurance. Nearly all programs have been greatly enhanced since then. “It’s exciting to see the association grow,” Brenda says. “We constantly review new programs that might benefit our members.”
The department recently implemented a retirement plan in association with American Underwriters Life Insurance Co. The benefit to members is they are offered a qualified, tax-deductible flexible annuity with tax-deferred interest. The plan also allows for rollovers from other existing accounts the member might have.
In addition to their supervisory duties, and researching new benefits, Brenda and Kari handle all medical benefits for the Grain Valley organization’s staff, now at 172 employees.
Eight agents are available to answer questions or give a prospective client a quote. The staff is loosely divided into a medical support group, the four-person medical billing group and five support staff. “We work closely together,” says Kari, “so any member of our team is able to answer questions pertaining to medical benefits, supply a quote or help with a billing problem.” Brenda Reynolds, Kari Russell, Brenda Casey, Donna Edlin, Tammy Reynolds, Kat Coyle, Mary Morris and Pat Simpson are the licensed agents who handle new business or existing accounts.
On a typical day, agents may be on the phone or e-mailing responses explaining the difference between workers’ compensation insurance and occupational accident insurance to potential clients or helping them to decide which program would be right for their situation. Throughout the day, other staff might be assisting with a claim. If a member’s claim is not paid, they are referred to the claim office, which processes the claim.
Other duties may include explaining alternative coverages. OOIDA offers alternative protection for owner-operators and contract drivers who are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but need protection from an accidental injury. There are three occupational accident policy limits available — $500,000, $1 million and $2 million.
Shirley Beasley, Alison Mackay, Rena Meyer, Monaca Smith and Josh Hargis make up the Medical Benefits Group well-trained support staff. Support handles all data entry for the department by generating the binding process and creating a new effective file for a customer. The support staff also is responsible for scanning department records into a Content Management System as Medical is the first department within OOIDA to go “paperless.” Once in place, the new system will offer faster service to those calling about their accounts.
The medical billing department is responsible for sending out statements and accepting payments from members participating in any of the association’s medical plans. The staff of Jana Kleoppel, Mickie Gross, Angela Windham and Sarah Dean is ready to assist members when they call.
Statements are sent out when a member’s coverage plan is changed or during the regular billing cycle. Billing dates can be set up for payment
either monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Their friendly service also includes a helpful reminder for those occasions when payment hasn’t been received by the due date.
“We attempt to make courtesy calls if payment hasn’t been received,” says Jana, “and we don’t charge any late fees for past due payments. It’s something you don’t always get from other insurance plans.”
The department also handles reimbursements. On the occasion a member pays an amount greater than what is owed, with the member’s permission, they can credit the amount to apply to a future payment or refund the excess amount.
OOIDA’s newest benefit for members is retirement planning. It is designed to accommodate the particular needs of the small-business trucker. The retirement savings remain completely independent of any carriers that an owner-operator might be leased to throughout their career so it stays under their control. It also allows for flexible tax-deductible contributions, which gives the owner-operator the opportunity to save whenever they choose. A minimum deposit of $25 is required to set up your account. Additional contributions can be made up to $7,000 per year.
The Medical Benefits Group is a division of Owner-Operator Services Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. OOSI staff is available from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday to answer questions. For more information call 1-800-715-9369.
In the May issue we’ll feature OOIDA’s Truck Insurance department.