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The History of IPSCO

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T hough most people know Insurance Planning and Service Company, Inc. simply as IPSCO, few people know the complexity and numerous services offered by the agency. Many may think that IPSCO simply puts together innovative insurance and benefits packages for employers; but in reality, the company is much more comprehensive in its scope, serving both the business and private sectors. "We're in the business of solving problems and providing solutions," says George Knox Jr., president of IPSCO.

IPSCO is also a strong provider of group and individual benefit packages to associations. A newer part of its business works to enhance membership to these associations by providing a wide range of noninsurance products, which it crafts to each association's needs as a method of adding value. Of course, this also means attracting new members and retaining satisfied members.

Founder J. Walter Bishop Jr. created IPSCO as Independent Planning Service, Inc. The company was the first independent employee benefit firm in Tennessee. Some of the original clients of the firm include the Tennessee Bar Association and Tennessee Dental Association-- association clients of the firm still today. Later, the firm also added other prominent professional associations as clients, including the Tennessee Medical Association in 1985 and the firm's first national association, Professional Convention Management Association, in 1992.

[Picture of George 'Con' Knox Jr., president of IPSCO] In 1956, Hugh C. Montgomery, a longtime employee of Provident Companies, Inc., joined Bishop to form IPSCO, with the "I" now standing for "insurance" instead of "independent". Together, they expanded the business of providing employer benefits packages and created a communications system that employers could use to help their employees understand the cost of employee benefit programs and the benefits themselves. In 1971, Knox joined the agency, and he recognized that the key to growing the firm was in expanding the association division. In 1980, Knox became president and owner of IPSCO.

Today, IPSCO tailors a wide range of choices and coverages for its clients, including group and individual medical insurance, liability coverage, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, workers' compensation, and disability. As a licensed third party administrator in Tennessee, IPSCO diligently services the products offered to its clients and delivers what the company calls "old-fashioned reliability with state-of-the-art service." The staff at IPSCO is hand-picked and long-term, and knows the business. In fact, IPSCO has two full-time programmers on staff who have created a program with an extensive database called WISDOM, just to ensure clients receive the best and most up-to-date service possible.

IPSCO works with businesses to tailor benefit plans to each client--not just for today, but as the company's needs change. IPSCO is there to meet and anticipate each company's future needs and expectations. [IPSCO picture] It does all the research, determines the risks, and puts together the most competitive quotes so the client can make an informed and secure choice. Since IPSCO is an independent agency, clients choose from the finest carriers with an emphasis on financial soundness.

Just as businesses need group plans, associations can benefit from group pricing for a wide array of products. With the endorsement of the Tennessee Society of Association Executives, IPSCO offers the same insurance planning expertise to associations and more. Administering programs and updating databases can be a hefty task for some associations. IPSCO has up-to-the- minute programming and administering capabilities that ease the information burden so the association can concentrate on its business.

What's more, IPSCO's noninsurance products make membership in an association even more valuable. From discounted educational seminars to office supplies, car leasing to tax audit services, contracting long-distance services to Internet consulting, IPSCO can tailor a plan that offers the association member appropriate services at group prices. Gilbert R. Campbell, executive director of the Tennessee Bar Association, says, "We have been totally pleased with the diligent manner in which [IPSCO] administers our program and I heartily recommend them to any association." Noninsurance products are growing into an exciting and innovative part of IPSCO's business. The company even manages its own in-house publishing and develops marketing pieces for each program. The firm's marketing director estimates that IPSCO sends out 16,000 to 20,000 personalized pieces per month.
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Even though IPSCO administers plans to larger companies like the Hamilton Medical Center, it understands the needs of small- to medium-size businesses as well. "We're a small business ourselves," says Knox. "We can appreciate their problems and special needs because we experience them, too." Creative and innovative solutions to plan problems is IPSCO's specialty, which positions the company to solve problems that other agencies sometimes can't. IPSCO owes its success to building creative strategies and developing unique products that fit a particular business' needs. Through its membership and participation in the Professional Liability [IPSCO picture] Underwriting Society, American College of Life Underwriters, and American Institute of Professional Association Group Insurance Administrators, the agency stays abreast of industry changes affecting its current and future clientele.

With additional offices in Memphis, Nashville and Jackson, IPSCO is poised for growth well into the next century. As a reliable agency that is there to respond to each client's changing needs, IPSCO strikes the right balance between hometown friendliness and top-notch plan service.

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