AKRON (Nov. 7, 2005) — One of the reasons more tire dealers haven't joined the Tire Industry Association (TIA), the largest tire dealer group in North America, is they claim it doesn't offer enough programs of value to make signing up worthwhile.
They might want to reconsider that position, now that TIA is introducing two new insurance plans—one for healthcare, the other covering workers' compensation.
This is a big deal for the association, which hasn't offered healthcare coverage to members since the early 1990s, nor has it had a workers' compensation plan.
Together, these new benefits have the potential to attract prospective members, help retain current members and bring in additional revenue.
But it's a huge boon for tire dealers as well.
Considering the relentless rise in healthcare costs and the difficulty many dealers have in securing affordable insurance coverage, the new plans provide viable, cost-effective alternatives to other healthcare and workers' compensation coverage that's available.
With the introduction of healthcare and workers' compensation insurance, TIA has addressed two of the most im-portant concerns of its tire dealer members.
Insurance is one of the most expensive line items in a tire dealer's budget, according to Roy Littlefield, TIA's executive vice president. Of all the telephone calls the association receives, he said, questions about insurance—particularly its availability and affordability—top the list.
The new healthcare program, called TIA-Care, is the culmination of a year and a half of work. It includes a partially self-funded major medical plan for association members with more than 15 employees and a mini-medical plan for all members.
The fact that the plan is partially self-funded means that neither TIA nor Triveris, the health management company providing the program, will carry all of the financial burden, which should help make the plan more viable.
The key to its success may well be that it encourages participants to take steps to improve their own health, such as getting regular checkups and cancer screenings. This incentive should help keep premiums more affordable and participants healthier.
TIA also hasn't forgotten its smaller tire dealership members. The mini-medical plan has a lower premium, higher de-ductible and offers less coverage than a major medical insurance plan. But, for the first time, it may allow smaller dealerships to offer a healthcare plan to their employees.
Most importantly for dealers, the new insurance programs have the potential of reducing their cost of doing business. Dealers should take a hard look at them.