More than 30 years ago, Jolles Insurance started off with the original tagline: “Setting the Standards for Service.” Decades later, company CEO Brian Jolles reflected that his company is still successful because it has kept that pledge, even while staying at the forefront of an industry that has seen rapid and monumental change over the past several years.
“We are mainly referral-based,” Jolles said, adding that part of his company’s success is also attributable to the fact that he and his wife, Lisa Jolles, president of the company, have stayed focused on what they do best. “We walk companies and people through developing a customized insurance plan, step by step. You have to be able to answer questions related to legal and tax issues as well.”
Jolles Insurance helps businesses and individuals select not only health care plans, but also disability insurance, life insurance, long-term care, retirement plans and other benefits.
When it comes to business owners, Lisa Jolles said she spends significant time with each of her clients to make the person feel comfortable with their benefits, which usually starts with a health insurance plan. “Do they understand what they have? Do they know how to use their benefits? Have they started a wellness initiative? Do they know about health savings accounts?”
One of the biggest insurance-related changes in the past decade is no secret: passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which requires insurance companies to cover all applicants within minimum standards and offer the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or gender.
Brian Jolles believes that the costs associated with having more people with health insurance will, in the long run, provide worthwhile results.
“By getting more people in the pool, it spreads out the cost and allows the healthier people and people getting healthier to subsidize the ones more at risk,” he said. “In the short term, that creates higher costs, but in the long run it should slow down health care cost growth.”
For now, Lisa Jolles is approaching what will be, for her team, a very busy time of year: open enrollment. “All the plans for 2016 will be different than 2015,” she said.
When the Jolleses sent an e-mail blast regarding open enrollment, they were surprised at the high rate of response among businesses and individuals. “We were wondering how much people appreciated and valued the support of a broker,” said Lisa Jolles. “We told people they can remain where they are but that they might want to schedule an appointment to explore their options.”
Forty-two percent of the 400 people responded on the same the day the e-mail was sent. “They value a broker,” said Lisa Jolles. “They want to know, from a personalized perspective.”
Jolles Insurance also helps businesses develop benefits packages geared toward enticing and retaining key employees. Tax-advantaged life insurance, disability insurance, deferred compensation and retirement plans are key facets that draw employees to join a company — and stay there.
The company also is known for including workplace wellness programs with the benefit packages it designs. It has come to be regarded as a subject matter expert in this area; in fact, Jolles Insurance is named as an example in college-level textbooks illustrating how small businesses can create a culture of wellness within their organization. “We are cited in a small business course at Purdue University,” said Brian Jolles. “Three years ago, somebody called us from New Jersey and said we are in their textbook. Then we got another message from California.”
The Jolleses believe that workplace wellness will be increasingly important for business owners of all sizes. “We truly believe in it,” said Brian Jolles, who recently was recognized by WELCOA (The Wellness Council of America) as one of the top 10 Health Promotion Professionals in the nation.
Client’s Wellness Program
Gayle James is administrator for Koffel Associates, a fire protection engineering and life safety design and consulting firm. James first met Brian Jolles two decades ago. Since then, Jolles Insurance has been James’s personal insurance adviser as well as the adviser for Koffel Associates.
“Brian, Lisa and their team are knowledgeable, responsive and passionate about what they do — and professional,” said James. “They’ve helped me tremendously over the years, and I feel fortunate to have them on my team.”
Koffel launched a workplace wellness initiative in September. “We’re committed to educate, and to provide resources and tools to help employees achieve their wellness goals,” said James. “We are just getting started, but nearly half our employees have registered to participate in and record their activity minutes.”
Koffel has raised the awareness and mindfulness of wellness — physical, emotional, financial — by encouraging participation with visible posters in the office and regular informative and encouraging e-mails, and by periodically distributing prizes.
“Employees are already talking about and recording their numbers — cholesterol, body mass index, blood pressure — and completing their individual health risk assessment and personal family medical history,” said James.
James said the wellness program has had an encouraging start. “I believe, with the continued support of our leadership team and the Jolles team, we’ll succeed.”