March 14, 2019

Ag Employers, Employee Benefits, and Western Growers

As a person who grew up in an agriculturally diverse area of Washington state and who spent every summer working in the fields and packing houses in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s earning money for school clothes and my horse hobby (a hobby my dad tried and failed spectacularly to avoid), the amount of change that has happened in agriculture between then and now is incredible.

Like many other industries, increasing specialization and embracing technology in agriculture to remain competitive and profitable has fueled the sometimes slow, yet steady march forward. Now, we see specialists of all kinds bringing forth robotics, phone apps and other new technology solutions to help agriculture.

For the past four and a half years, I have had the distinct pleasure of serving agriculture employers exclusively by joining the Western Growers Insurance Services benefits team. After more than 25 years in many different areas of healthcare and employer group benefits, it is very rewarding to listen, learn and find solutions for growers, packers, shippers and many other agriculture-related employers. Much like technology and specialization out in the fields, employee benefits has also made a sometimes slow, yet steady march forward in the specialization and technology space. One of the things that has not been slow, however, is the cost of healthcare, which drives up the cost of employee health benefits to both employers and employees. There seems to be no end in sight—and has been going on for decades. Enter Western Growers to help our members, since 1957.

The expenditures for health benefits is not only significant in terms of the company’s bottom line—usually the number two cost item behind payroll—but is the number one purchase employers make in terms of having a deeply personal impact on the employer’s valued employees.

Access to quality healthcare is as personal as it gets. No matter how much technology and specialization intersect, this one fact will not ever change. This is the one area where the decision as to which partner broker and carriers an employer chooses for its employees extends well beyond just price and a transaction. The decision travels into the realm of value, service, improved employee relations, healthful living and financial protection…all of which should be of high importance to employer and employees alike. A truly integrated, well-designed benefits package drives so much more than just what is seen on the surface.

Serving ag is all we at Western Growers Insurance Services do. We are the ag benefits specialists providing our deep expertise in both benefits AND in agriculture to more than a thousand ag employers so they can rest assure that their benefits package decisions are based on the employer’s specific challenges, company goals and their employees’ need. All the while, yielding the best value for every dollar spent. We provide these services in a transparent, educational, clear and ethical manner. Knowledge is power, after all, and helps drive the right decisions for every employer I work with, whether that employer has just a few employees or a thousand employees.

Recently, I was able to help an employer consolidate many different services available through Western Growers Insurance Services/Western Growers Assurance Trust including their benefits package for medical, dental and vision. The result included full COBRA administration, full FSA (flexible spending accounts) administration, and consolidated billing and eligibility for multiple carrier services, SPD (Summary Plan Description) development, and non-discrimination testing. This made for a powerful, easier-to-administer suite of services for an employer who stated they really wanted to simplify, and all at a better price point than the employer and its employees were previously paying. We also recently conducted a robust Health Fair for this employer at no extra cost. We also provide ongoing, bilingual on-site servicing to keep employees informed about their plans and networks, answer questions and resolve issues expediently. Simply put, we have capabilities that are hands-on for the employer, promote employee engagement, and have few layers for employers to wade through in administering their benefits programs.

As we enter 2019, if you’d like to find out more about Western Growers Insurance Services, Western Growers Assurance Trust, or any of the other ag-centric services we provide our clients and how we can help your business and its employees, please feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected] or (831) 578-9294.


Editor’s Note: Tami Glover was a recipient of the 2018 Top Benefits Producer Award and 2018 Top Producer of the Year Award. Dedicated to serving Salinas, Tami is a resource to Western Growers members for all their benefits and insurance needs.