Decision–by FMIS rankles customers
Freisenbruch-Meyer Insurance Services’ (FMIS) announcement to customers on Friday that they will stop providing health insurance as of July 15 has left at least one customer angrily questioning the legality of the move as well as the company’s offer to provide the Chamber of Commerce’s group business despite FMIS now admitting to problems with offering health insurance a year ago.
The Chamber of Commerce group programme was launched about six months ago, in order to assist small Chamber members by providing more competitive insurance rates than they could achieve on their own.
The customer who spoke to
The Royal Gazette yesterday is the partner of a small-business owner and wished to remain anonymous. He said he was concerned about the potential of increased insurance rates from a new health insurance provider, and said his partner’s business may need to cut costs to cover increased rates by making at least one employee redundant. “Probably one employee will have to go — and our employees are all Bermuda,” he said.
His partner’s business had made the move to FMIS as part of the group policy issued to the Chamber of Commerce because they felt that would give them more “muscle” in their insurance dealings.
“Why did FMIS take on this business when they knew they were having trouble sustaining it?” he asked. “Is this legal? Can they do this?”
William Madeiros, general manager and vice president of FMIS said: “The programme with the Chamber of Commerce was in place late last year. As far as the policy is concerned, it calls for a very strict 30-day notice period.”
He emphasised that they had exhausted every avenue before making the decision to stop offering health insurance.
Mr Madeiros said since making the announcement they have had a number of telephone calls from customers. “People in the main expressed disappointment at the turn of events. The vast majority would prefer to stay with us, but people in the main have been very understanding with what we’re doing.”
The event has drawn attention to health coverage and the issues that it raises, he said.
President of the Chamber of Commerce Ronnie Viera said: “Clearly we are very disappointed, as much as anything else. We entered into the agreement in good faith, we did our due diligence and got quotes from other providers. We asked questions of FMIS.
“At no point were we aware that there was any doubt over our coverage going forward. As far as future rates were concerned, we were satisfied they would not be significantly higher.
“We went in with a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve and an understanding and commitment from FMIS of what they would provide.” Of the struggle the company was having to continue to offer viable health coverage: “They were not obligated to tell us,” he said.
He said: “We had wanted to be able to provide a lower cost plan for our smaller member companies.”