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Stroh and Associates opens in Dickinson

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Two former Blue Cross Blue Shield agents are stepping out on their own to form an independent health insurance brokerage.

Sheyna Stroh and Corrine Chapinski opened Stroh and Associates in Dickinson and Bismarck at the beginning of July, but with an office finished this weekend, will have a grand opening and ribbon cutting Aug. 29.

Rather than representing a single insurer, Stroh and Associates will broker policies for companies or individuals from Blue Cross, Sanford Health Plans and Medica, as well as several vision and dental providers, Stroh said. It will also feature life and disability insurances.

"There's kind of a misconception that often times you're just price shopping," she said. "It's so much more than that because every carrier is going to have different underwriting and analytics that go into creating a rate."

Because the company works with many providers, it can customize a plan based on the needs of each workforce and individual, Stroh said.

"What's the best fit for a group of young, healthy, single guys is going to be substantially different than an employer entity that is primarily a family-based employer group," she said.

Independent agents fall under the same guidelines as all other insurance vendors in North Dakota, Deputy Insurance Commissioner Rebecca Ternes said.

"They still have to follow the same laws and rules," she said. "It's just about who they're associated with and who they're appointed with."

More individuals will be purchasing health insurance policies in 2014 when the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, takes effect, Chapinski said.

"I'm assuming we're going to be navigators, helping them along to choose the best plan that is available for them," she said.

After gathering information from a company and figuring out what they want from their benefits package, Stroh and Associates will shop the market and find the best fit, Stroh said. They will go back to the client with multiple options for them to choose from.

The process would be similar for an individual.

"We have no dog in the fight," Stroh said. "There is really no incentive for us to push and employer group one way or the other. The way we've structured our compensation leaves it completely on the table for that employer group to make an unbiased decision."

In an age where anything can be ordered from the Internet, buying insurance from an agent might seem antiquated, Chapinski said. But having informed agents can help sort through the mess of paperwork and questions required by insurers.

"It's going to be more customer service, I think, oriented," she said.

Having an agent holds someone else accountable, Stroh said.

"It's not like shoes," she said. "You can't send it back and try another pair if you don't like it."

An agency like Stroh and Associates can offer customers informed options, Chapinski said.

"People like a choice, I think," she said. "To decide themselves which of these five choices do you want to pick."

Stroh and Associates is in the Park Square Mall, Suite 202, 40 First St. W. in downtown Dickinson. It is working on procuring office space in Bismarck. Contact them via phone at 701-483-3398 or via email at sheyna.stroh@strohandasso or corrine.chapinski@stroh

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206