HUNTLEY – Employee benefits consulting firm Benico Ltd. in Huntley is busier than ever as companies scramble to prepare for new provisions of the Affordable Care Act that go into effect next year.
“We’re busier than we’ve ever been,” said John Garven, who co-owns the benefits and insurance firm with his wife, Pam. “A lot of people are calling us to help them understand the law and how to comply with it. We do a lot of hand holding.”
The firm’s customer service has become a hallmark of the business. Garven said it has helped the company stay in business for nearly 30 years – a milestone it will mark early next month.
“Benico has grown as a result of two major factors – first, the proactive servicing of its clients’ needs, and second, the ongoing professional development of its staff,” Garven said in a blog post on the company’s website this week. “The value proposition we bring to our clients is that we are big enough to have the knowledge base, expertise and depth of staff that is needed to address our clients’ concerns and issues, and yet small enough to be able to respond to client needs on a timely basis and consistently demonstrate to our clients that we care.”
Key provisions of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act are to be implemented Jan. 1, 2014. The law mandates that most individuals have health insurance, provides subsidies to help pay premiums and penalizes people who can afford coverage but don’t get it. It imposes penalties on businesses with 50 or more full-time workers that don’t offer coverage.
Many business owners have questions about the requirements of the law, which the federal government and states have not yet fully explained.
“So much guidance has yet to come,” Garven said.
John and Pam Garven started the Greater Northern Illinois Group in 1981 shortly after getting married. In 1983 they incorporated Benico, which was associated with commercial property and casualty firm Assurance Agency. After leaving Assurance, Benico moved to Hoffman Estates and later to Hampshire before settling at 117515 E. Main St. in Huntley, its current location.
Benico designs and manages employee benefits for a range of companies. Its largest client has 4,000 employees; its smallest has a couple of employees. It also provides other services such as retirement plans, insurance planning, wealth management and consulting services.
“The lines between payroll, insurance, and banking are blurring,” Garven said. “Clients want integrated products.”
Garven has a number of professional credentials as a consultant, underwriter, and retirement adviser. He served as past president of the Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters, an affiliate of the National Association of Health Underwriters.
Benico has four employees. Catherine Munch and Mary Bieker are account managers. Chris Saundle of Lake in the Hills is the information technology manager and network administrator.
John Garven has been active with the Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce and previously served on the Algonquin District 158 school board.
Working with the chamber, Garven “has been instrumental in helping businesses get information on health insurance and other issues,” said Rita Slawek, president and CEO of the Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Garvens have lived in Huntley since 1993. They serve as lay pastors at Morning Star Church, an independent, non-denominational church located just outside Huntley.