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Sanigest, BIBA at odds over agents and brokers

Bahamas Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) President Felicia-Antoinette Knowles said despite assurances by National Health Insurance (NHI) Project Director Dr. Delon Brennen, she and her members appear to be on the chopping block because of the assertion — attributed to Sanigest Internacional — that the agents and brokers she represents are unnecessary for the NHI scheme to work. However, Sanigest President James Cercone yesterday told Guardian Business the consultant did no such thing.

Knowles told Guardian Business that the leaked Sanigest report contained the statement that insurance agents and brokers are “part of an administrative cost that was not needed”.

“And anybody who thinks that needs to have an education as to the true value of insurance agents and brokers,” she said.

“The sad part of all of this, our insurance market is 95 percent or more Bahamian-owned… All agents and brokers are 100 percent Bahamian owned, so everybody who you’re affecting is a Bahamian. And this all has a trickle-down effect to the government.”

However, Cercone said his company “never proposed to remove them from the system”.

“In fact, in our first presentation to them, we outlined all the potential roles that we see them playing in the new system.

“Certainly, there may be a shift in some of the things they do to improve patient outcomes and make sure NHI members have the best patient experience possible,” he said.


BIBA not convinced

Knowles also argued that it was clear that Brennen does not understand what insurance agents and brokers do — what their regulated, legislative role is in the industry.

“We are the middleman between the client and the carrier,” she said. “We are the voice for every policy-holder. We are the ones that they trust when it comes to their contract. We don’t know anything about it. We’re not a part of it. And you think you’re going to get the whole population to enroll?

“We do not operate as fly-by-nights. We have employees that we engage. We have vendors that we contract. If there is to be a change to our business model, it is only fair that we be informed so we can properly plan for that. So again, I say, there is no plan for the brokers and agents,” she said.


Bait and switch

Meanwhile, introducing NHI with primary care services and then slapping a price tag on the entire vital benefits package intended to be offered as the first tier of NHI is “nothing but a bait and switch,” according to Knowles. “I test you out for free now you want more, let’s put a price tag on it. The ultimate goal all along was to put the price tag on it.”


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