What is the Chambers of Commerce Group Benefits Plan?
The Chambers Group Benefits Plan is a non-profit group benefit plan. It offers traditional group coverage for firms with 1-100 employees. It is mandated to provide these benefits to members of local Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade in an affordable manner.
What is its background?
The plan was formed in 1970 as a benefit for members of Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade across Canada. It is now the largest plan of its kind in the country insuring in excess of 34,000 firms and 160,000 employees.
What is unique about the Chambers Group Plan, why choose it?
Since the program is non-profit it is unique in the industry. Firms of all sizes can access guaranteed coverage. Firms with 3-9 employees may choose to be not in a claims rated environment, instead fully pooled with the other 34,000 firms for stability of rates and minimal risk. Firms with 3-9 who choose to or with more than 10 employees also benefit from partial pooling and the non-profit nature of the plan with rate rewards for taking on slightly more risk although less than the market would provide. Those with higher experience see that softened by these factors and those with good claims experience can see an actual decrease in their premiums. Also, the Chamber Plan is non-cancellable. This means as long as you continue to pay your premiums and maintain your membership they will continue to provide benefits regardless of your claims experience. The Chamber also will write non-profit organizations upon approval and contract employees where certain conditions are met, something many insurers will not.
Who is the insurer?
The program is run by the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Corporation, again a non-profit entity run by a volunteer board of people from Chambers/Boards across the country. The plan is run by the Johnston Group based in Winnipeg, one of "Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies" since 2001. Insured benefits such as life and disability are contractually underwritten and provided through Desjardins while health and dental claims are paid through the Chamber program itself, by the Johnston Group.
Why have benefits?
There are many reasons why a firm would wish to provide benefits and the priority of these items may vary from firm to firm. First of all health and dental premiums are a tax deductible business expense and one of the few items that are not a taxable benefit back to the employees. In addition there is the financial well-being of having a plan and knowing your risk has been limited. Employee loyalty increases dramatically. Surveys have shown that a large percentage of employees consider a benefit plan to be important in both their choosing of an employer and remaining with that employer. Increased productivity will generally result from the peace of mind as well as the increased health of employees. Employees will no longer have to put off needed treatments. As an employer there is also an additional sense of satisfaction in providing additional protection to your family and those of your employees.
All firms also get access to the Business Assistance Service (BAS) which provides additional employee counselling as well as accounting, legal and HR help for the employer.
What benefits are available?
- Life Insurance
- Accidental Death & Dismemberment
- Short Term Disability
- Long Term Disability
- Business Overhead Coverage
- Extended Health & Prescription Drugs
- Critical Illness
- Group RRSP
What Plan Design is available?
Generally speaking your Chambers Agent will tailor a plan to meet your coverage or budgetary needs. This could include building a plan from scratch or matching an existing plan design that you may have.
How does the Plan pay claims?
Extended Health and dental claims are turned around within 48 hours in Winnipeg. Many items however can now be processed electronically on the spot, such as drugs and dental.
How do renewals work?
The program renews every April 1 based on sustaining the plan. Firms with under 10 employees will receive a pooled renewal at this time based on factors such as inflation, the pools' experience and age changes within their individual firms. Our plan has consistently maintained core renewals well below industry inflation rates, due to our nonprofit nature and pooling. For firms that have some experience rating (those with 10 employees +) they will receive their experience at this time and again a pooled rating based on this experience. What is unique again here is that the Chamber would not negatively rate a firm of this size until their claims exceed their premiums. Most insurers calculate renewals on small groups based more on their individual usage.
Do I have to become a member of a participating Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade?
You do not need to become a member to receive a quote but you would need to be a member to get the plan. We can include membership in the quote. There are also a large variety of other benefits being a member of your local Chamber/Board would provide.