The History of IPSCO
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.
A HISTORY OF GROWTH
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.
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.
A TAILORED APPROACH
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.
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.
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
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
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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