Father-daughter team Jim Phlamm and Sue Douglass, from Lake Bluff, own Syndicated Insurance Services, Inc., and deliver some of the most knowledgeable advice a client can get from their insurance broker. With their combined 66 years insurance experience, they know how to find the best and least expensive health and life insurance for individuals and small group insurance clients.
They know that a client’s time is valuable, so the company philosophy is, “We make your problem our problem, and then solve it.”
Forest & Bluff: Tell us about your experience and how you came to own Syndicated Insurance.
Jim Phlamm: I started out on the actuarial side of the business, ran a group operation, and was an officer at Blue Cross’ life company. I bought Syndicated 17 years ago. Do business with us, and you get our experience. Sue is an owner and officer; with her personality and smarts, I always wanted her to come into the business on a full-time basis.
Sue Douglass: I started in the business working for Combined Insurance, established by W. Clement Stone, during summer and holiday breaks while in college. After college, I transferred to Combined’s Philadelphia division for several years. I returned to Chicago and then was Syndicated’s first employee in the late ’80s. I then worked as an account executive with Blue Cross Blue Shield before staying home to raise my children.
F&B: What kinds of insurance does Syndicated offer?
JP: We are an individual and small group insurance shop with seven full-time and three part-time employees. We deal only with top tier carriers—Aetna, Blue Cross, Humana, and United Healthcare for health, and American General, Guardian, MetLife, Principal, Prudential, and Transamerica for life. Also, we are experts on Medicare, Medicare Supplement coverage, and Part D drug plans for seniors.
We handle all of the group insurance for Country Companies’ 2,700 agents in all of the states where Country does business. We do the same thing for businesses and individuals. We are health and life insurance experts.
People get insurance for their lives, health, houses, cars, and liabilities. But they often don’t insure the one thing that all of these things are built upon—their ability to make an income. Small business owners want long term disability insurance but find that individual coverage is too expensive. We have small group long-term disability insurance that is surprisingly inexpensive yet it pays up to 60 percent of a person’s salary if they are disabled and unable to work, until they attain their Social Security Normal Retirement Age. This coverage is available to groups as small as two “lives,” or people. Let us show you.
F&B: What differentiates Syndicated from other insurance brokers?
JP: What sets us apart from our peers in the business is that we give much more than “service.” I know I’m repeating, however, we will make your problem our problem, and then solve it. We stay on top of the latest developments in health care business, including legislation that is pending or recently passed, health care reform and how that affects our clients. Sue is on the legislative affairs committee in Schaumburg, which keeps us tied into state and federal government proposals and laws which will impact our clients.
For example, Illinois has a program for people who are uninsurable, but many insurance brokers don’t know about it or don’t bother offering it because they make no commission on it. But we make it our business to know what is available out there and look to non-traditional markets when necessary. If you were in an iron lung with AIDS, we could get you insurance.
SD: I’ve been a small business owner in my community, and I have experienced the pressures that small group clients are under and how important it is to watch their bottom line. We can help here. Try us, you might make more money with your pencil than with your business, especially if you have had the same carrier for three or more years.
We are always looking for and coming up with ways to lower costs for our clients. We shop the market at every renewal period for existing clients, even if they don’t ask us to, as well as for new clients. We’ll show them what the top three competitors will charge for the same coverage they currently have. We know, for example, that if a company has been with the same carrier for more than three years, they are probably paying too much. And we are knowledgeable and skilled at helping them secure lower rates without sacrificing quality.
F&B: What do you say to skeptics who think changing insurance companies isn’t worth the hassle?
SD: We understand how valuable an employer’s time is, and we’re not going to waste it. All we need is a brief phone call or email to gather some basic information such as the age, sex, and family status of employees, and we can assess whether or not we can save them money. And there is no obligation of any sort if someone makes that call to us.
JP: We know that if we can’t save a client at least 10 percent, it’s not worth their time to change carriers. So we’ll look again at their next renewal.
In closing, Jim and Sue say, “Give Syndicated a call with an insurance problem and watch what happens.”
For more information about Syndicated Insurance Services, call 847-882-7710, or visit syndicatedinsurance.com.