BBB Membership of Online Insurance Providers
Importance of the BBB Membership and BBB Online Reliability program
MedSave.com is proud to provide enrollment support for five BBB members including three Online Reliability program members. Five other key affiliates are not BBB members. MedSave.com does not have its own BBB report and is not eligible for BBB Online Reliability program status since separating from its former parent company in 2007. We still support and encourage use of the BBB Online Reliability program, BBB membership and BBB reports as one method of verifying a business's reputation.
In the early years of Internet commerce most of the prominent companies in the online insurance and employee benefits business were members of the Better Business bureau and most participated in the "BBB Online Reliability Program" that is designed to ensure online shoppers of the reputation and fidelity of a Web-based merchant. MedSave.com, through its former parent company Freedom Benefits, and almost all of our affiliated companies were members of the BBB. By the end of the 1990's, however, fewer companies in this industry elected BBB OnlineReliability membership. This short article is meant to provide some clarification about BBB Online Reliability program to our users and offer some insight into the decision process used by our affiliates.
Ideally, all reputable online businesses would enroll in the BBB Online Reliability program and display the well-recognized logo at the right to make the verification process easy for consumers. Unfortunately, it is not so simple. There are significant procedural and financial considerations in being part of the BBB Online Reliability program and responsible managers must weigh the costs against the benefits of participation in the program. In some cases, managers may wonder if the designation is meaningful for today's Internet shoppers.
The requirements for becoming a BBB Online Reliability member are rigorous. Members must:
1. Become a member of the Better Business Bureau where company is headquartered and pay an annual membership fee
2. Provide the BBB with information regarding company ownership and management and the street address and telephone number at which they do business, which may be verified by the BBB in a visit to the company's physical premises
3. Be in business a minimum of one year (an exception can be made if a new business is a spinoff or a division of an existing business, which is known to and has a positive track record with the BBB)
4. Have a satisfactory complaint handling record with the BBB
5. Agree to participate in the BBB's advertising self-regulation program, comply with the BBB Code of Advertising, and correct or withdraw online advertising when challenged by the BBB and found not to be substantiated or not in compliance with our children's advertising guideline
6. Agree to abide by the BBB Code of Online Business Practices, and to cooperate with any BBB request for modification of a website to bring it into accordance with the Code
7. Respond promptly to all consumer complaints
8. Agree to dispute resolution, at the consumer's request, for unresolved disputes involving consumer products or services.
Each BBB Online Reliability program member paid an application fee for evaluation by the program's administrators. In addition, each member pays a substantial annual membership fee to the BBB that typically exceeds a thousand dollars.
In return for agreeing to these terms and paying the fee, the business was entitled to advertise the membership and display the BBB logo on their Web site. The BBB Online Reliability logo has become a widely recognized trademark. For most of the past ten years MedSave advertised that we only supported enrollment in BBB member companies. MedSave.com and its parent company Freedom Benefits formerly maintained membership in the BBB and the BBB Online Reliability program. Freedom Benefits closed in 2006 and MedSave.com is now operated by a group of affiliates as a cooperative venture rather than as a sererate company.
MedSave.com is not eligible for BBB Online Reliability program membership because the Web site does not have a physical address or phone number, but instead is operated collectively by its affiliate companies. We believe that it would not be appropriate for us to rely solely on one members' BBB status when other members do not have the same status. Our decision to stop separate BBB membership was based primarily on the cost vs. benefits. Without access to the BBB Online Reliability program, the benefits of BBB membership for a Web site business are minimal. There is also some belief perception that well-established Web-based businesses like MedSave.com have established a positive consumer image independently of the BBB umbrella and that other organizations like "VISA/MasterCard" and "Verisign" adequately protect consumers from fraudulent businesses online. The decision to decline BBB membership is in no way a negative comment on the Better Business Bureau, its principles, or the BBB Online Reliability Program, but rather a simple economic decision saying "it's not worth the cost".
2008 Status of MedSave.com affiliate companies
At the time of this update in January 2008, only about half of the MedSave.com affiliated companies are BBB members. We verified the following information about BBB membership of ten key affiliates at the beginning of 2008. Hyperlinks to BBB reports are provided where available.
Careington - BBB accredited member, satisfactory BBB report
Celtic Insurance - not a BBB member, satisfactory BBB report
Coordinated Benefits - not a BBB member, no BBB report
General Agent Center - not a BBB member, satisfactory BBB report
Golden Rule Insurance - BBB accredited member, BBB report in good standing
Health Plan Administrators Inc. - Not a BBB member, BBB report in good standing
International Medical Group - BBB Online Reliability program member, BBB report not reviewed due to technical error on BBB.org Web site
Multinational Underwriters - not a BBB member, BBB report not reviewed due to technical error on BBB.org Web site
SASid - BBB Online Reliability member, BBB report in good standing
Seven Corners - BBB Online Reliability member, BBB report not reviewed due to technical error on BBB.org Web site
MedSave.com supports the choice of each business to determine its membership status with the BBB and makes an independent evaluation of the quality and reputation of each provider of benefits. We believe that our criteria for supporting a company are more rigorous, but admittedly more subjective, than the evaluation process used by the BBB. We consider comments from customers as well as the complaint reports published by the National Association of Insurance Administrators as well as BBB reports for each affiliate. In addition, MedSave.com considers the character and statements of business policy made by the owners and key employees of each business in personal and telephone interviews. In some cases in the past we have dropped support of a company based on changing public perception and policies enforced by key personnel. In the final evaluation, our decision to endorse a company is based on the subjective analogy "Is this a company that I would refer to my own family?" and is in essence, the same type of consumer satisfaction and quality experience criteria that the BBB Online Reliability program strives to achieve. All ten of MedSave.com's current affiliates easily meet this criteria.
We affirm that MedSave.com users can trust any of the affiliated companies with or without BBB membership.