Employer Stop Loss—can we really do that?

This article is part of a series of case studies—real stories of how managed care companies increased profits by using Summit Re’s resources to increase sales, decrease expenses, and manage claims. Offering your provider networks and care management programs to self-funded employers may be a key area of expansion and one that builds on your core competencies.

We have a long history of working with HMOs that contract with TPAs or establish their own ASO capabilities for the employer stop loss business. Our background in the managed care reinsurance market allows us to understand the challenges our clients face and present a wide array of solutions.

In fact, we are so committed to this effort, we explicitly mention providing employer stop loss products and services in our Founding Principles.

Range of services

In most instances, HMOs look to us for competitive stop loss quotes that reflect the savings associated with accessing their networks and care management programs. In some instances, however, HMOs have a properly licensed insurance company and are interested in becoming risk takers. They would like to offer employers a complete stop loss platform, including administration, provider networks, care management programs and stop loss coverage. Since most HMOs do not have the stop loss coverage expertise on staff, Summit is able to act as a managing underwriter—performing pricing, underwriting, policy issuance and claim functions.

Case study background

Company ABC is a very successful HMO operating in two locations. The company historically used a handful of stop loss carriers to offer specific and aggregate coverage to its self-funded groups. During one of our visits, we asked a simple question: “Why don’t you consider writing employer stop loss coverage through your insurance company, rather than somebody else’s?”

They called us back the next day and said, “Did you really mean it? Can we really do that?” We said yes, and the rest is history.

Taking control

This HMO moved the majority of its business from its previous carriers to the HMO’s insurance company. Company ABC staff members have the flexibility and control to meet marketplace conditions with respect to pricing and underwriting, including the setting of appropriate rates, lasers, and binding limits prior to the effective date of coverage. While Summit Re makes recommendations on pricing and underwriting guidelines, Company ABC ultimately decides what terms and conditions it chooses to offer employer groups, since the health plan’s insurance company affiliate is assuming the risk. Even though Summit Re does the actual underwriting, policy issuance and claims adjudication for this client, the client retains the authority to make all final decisions.

In addition to our day-to-day involvement with Company ABC, Summit Re lined up excess-of-loss protection for its employer stop loss portfolio after Company ABC absorbs a corridor of risk.


The deal has worked out just as the HMO and its affiliates had envisioned: the marketplace reaction was favorable.

  • Clients knew the HMO had been in the marketplace for over 25 years and its B+ rating was more than acceptable (Weiss).
  • The HMO brought strong provider contracts and case management capabilities to the employer stop loss product.
  • The plan had good relationships with brokers, agents and customers in the marketplace.
  • It could now offer a fully branded product including its provider contracts and network management capabilities, its TPA services and its employer stop loss policy.

In the words of Company ABC, “Summit Re met all of my service requirements. Things are great from our perspective. We look forward to a long relationship with Summit Re on this product line.”

Although this client didn’t need it, Summit Re was available to provide sales and marketing training to HMOs who are new to this self-funded marketplace. Summit Re is also in a position to recommend consultants who assist HMOs in setting up their own administrative shops and in getting their stop loss policy forms and rates filed with departments of insurance.

This approach won’t fit everybody,but is it right for you?