Keep It Local

Most of those reading this article live in the area, the Hudson Valley.  The area is beautiful, it has changes of seasons unlike any other area.   Kingston our county seat was the state’s first capital, the area is steeped in history.  It is peppered with incredible businesses, little nuggets waiting to be discovered and patronized.

One of methods these businesses utilize to market themselves is to join the local Chamber of Commerce.  Through the Chamber they can network with other local businesses, get listed in the business to business directory, have the opportunity to sponsor events for publicity and maybe even be interviewed on a radio show.  In short it is a very reasonable way to promote a business.  Our local Chamber has even added the phrase “keep it local” to their logo and their publicity campaign, a great idea.

Thus the topic of this article – our Chamber whose main purpose is to promote local commerce has in many instances decided to do business outside the area even outside the region. 

One of the benefits the Chamber has offered is health insurance, which has been competition to the many local insurance companies for many years, it was administered by them.  This year a decision was made to move the administration of the health insurance benefits to a brokerage firm.  The most unfortunate part of this decision is that the firm chosen is based in Rochester, NY, not in the county and not even in the region.  The business whose business is to promote local businesses has placed their business outside the region. 

One would believe that perhaps this brokerage firm offered something different than any of our local firms could, however that is not the case, in fact every single benefit plan that is offered by the Chamber can be purchased through any of our local insurance agencies who sell health plans.  Furthermore, the benefits could be purchased directly from a local brokerage and save the administration charges that are billed by the Chamber.

It also occurs to me that the money made by this outside brokerage firm is not going to be spent locally causing a trickling away of money from our area.

Local agencies were asked to provide proposals to the Chamber however when inquiries were made for details in order to provide a specific proposal those details were not provided.  After the fact we were told that we couldn’t match the outside firm.  Without details providing a proposal that could match or even surpass the competing firm was an impossibility.

It has recently come to my attention that my name has been used stating that I am “OK” with this decision – just for the record I am not “OK” with it.

DianaLou Wolff, FLMI/RHU, Registered Employee Benefits Consultant is the owner of Benefit Counseling Associates in Kingston and has been in the insurance industry for 30 years.