JACKSON — Who would have guessed in 1945 that Fox-Everett, founded primarily as a property and casualty agency by Carl Fox and Bob Everett, would one day be named a top benefit broker by the national weekly publication Business Insurance?
Fox-Everett got into the employee benefit administration business the late-50s and early-60s. Recently Business Insurance ranked the company No. 8 in the nation.
“That’s how we really got into the employee benefits business,” explained Larry Vance, executive vice president of employee benefits. “Our business has grown over the years.”
During those years, Fox-Everett was only administering claims for fully-insured medical cases. But when the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was enacted in 1974, they began administering claims for self-funded medical benefits. Since then, they have administered claims for close to 80,000 participants.
Fox-Everett now gets more than half of their revenues from the benefits business and, it turns out, given that particular criteria Fox-Everett is the eighth largest benefit broker in the nation. In fact, 60% of Fox-Everett’s revenue now comes from employee benefits.
Fox-Everett has two offices in Mississippi. Their headquarters are located in Jackson and their sister company is in Gulfport. But they write coverage outside of the state as well, with the help of a sales office in Casper, Wyo.
So how has Fox-Everett become so successful? “We administer plans the way people want them administered on a very I think, personal basis,” said John Anderson Jr., president of Fox-Everett. “They don’t have to fit into a particular way of submitting claims. We can just do whatever they need to make their system better.
“We just make (their benefits) system flow. The contrast would be doing business with XYZ insurance company, which has a way you have to do it, period. That’s their way and it’s the only way.”
Another thing that has helped Fox-Everett become a leader in the benefits business has been the way they do claims.
“We have dedicated teams paying the claims for each employer,” Anderson said.
When a certain employer comes in, they go to the same team every single time. This is different from some other insurance companies which, when an employer calls in, transfer the employer to whoever is available to help with claims at that particular time.
Vance echoed the same sentiments. “I think we add a personal touch to it,” he said.
Another strength of Fox-Everett is that the company is locally owned. Seventeen of their 128 employees are shareholders.
Bill Mathison, executive vice president of casualty property operations at Fox-Everett, said the multi-million dollar investments the company has made in technology has also helped them to become a leader in the benefits business.
In fact, Fox-Everett has gone from being entirely manual to using new technology in every facet of their business, making the entire claims process faster and more efficient. Some services the Fox-Everett employee benefit department offers include self-funded medical and dental plans, employee-insured medical and dental plans, Section 125 cafeteria plans, COBRA and HIPAA and the sale and service of fully-insured group life, disability and other supplemental products.
And, for the most part, the administrative services related to self-funded or employee-insured medical plans are done under the Fox-Everett roof. The only items contracted out are the pre-admission certification and case management.
Some of the challenges Fox-Everett faces include keeping up with changing technology and with changing federal legislation.The basic mission of Fox-Everett has remained constant over the years, though it encompasses a five-fold responsibility. They are committed to serving their clients, companies, employees, partnership and communities. But the clients, above all, are the most important of the five.
Carl Fox once wrote, “When excellence becomes the rule rather than the exception, it becomes commonplace.
“When excellence is commonplace, anything else is unacceptable. Those individuals who are not satisfied with delivering less than excellence know that there is a penalty attached. That penalty is that their customers complain about omissions which would be acceptable from almost anyone else. We hope that we will always carry the burden of that penalty.”
Fox named that “The Penalty of Excellence” and it is the philosophy those at Fox-Everett have lived by since 1945.
Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1042.