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Massage Today
August, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 08

Associations Respond to IMA Owner

By Christie Bondurant

Adverse statements made by the owner and founder of the financially-troubled International Massage Association (IMA), once a major insurer for the massage therapy community, have created quite a stir among the major massage associations he recently called out in an email blast to IMA members.

The email sent to IMA members was in apparent response to the Massage Today article "What Became of IMA?" that reported on the financial demise of IMA and its owner, Will Green. While Green admits some fault in his company's failure, rather than addressing a current policy holder's basic concerns (i.e. their present insurance coverage) -- he devotes a large part of his email to slamming other massage organizations and the types of insurance they provide.

He also seems to use the email as a platform to market his new insurance company, the National Association of Massage Therapists (NAMT), which he states is soon-to-be managed by the Health & Beauty Association (HBA). HBA lists the same address and phone number as soon-to-be defunct IMA on their Web site.

Green names nearly all of the major organizations that offer liability insurance to massage practitioners including: Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, American Massage Therapy Association, American Massage Council, Hands-On Trade Association, Massage Magazine and Alternative Therapy Association, providing various reasons as why NAMT is superior to them. Massage Magazine did not respond to requests for comment. (Green's complete email sent to IMA members can be found here.)

In turn, five out of six of the associations named have responded to Green's statements and sent their responses to Massage Today. The following are those responses received from ABMP, AMTA, AMC, HOTA and ATA. (Some statements given were summarized for this article.)

ABMP Responds

Mr. Green and IMA ran into trouble, as he admits, by not focusing on the fundamental aspects of his business, including not keeping up with his obligation to pay his insurance carrier. By contrast, ABMP's current leadership team has been managing the organization for 14 years. In that time, ABMP became the largest professional association in the field, all while maintaining a stable membership fee and dramatically increasing the value of our membership.

Unlike IMA, which shuttled among multiple insurance companies, ABMP has enjoyed a solid, strong relationship with our A.M. Best "A" rated insurance underwriter for the past decade, and our insurance broker for the past 13 years. 

Mr. Green reached out to ABMP in March, when he knew his organization was in trouble. We paid attention because we did not want to see 15,000 massage therapists be left out in the cold. But, after investigation, we determined we were not prepared to potentially put at risk the health of our own organization and our 72,000 members, considering the problems surrounding the IMA Group.

AMTA Responds

In a response to an article in Massage Today about the demise of the International Massage Association (IMA), its owner, Will Green, refers to many issues of liability insurance coverage provided by massage therapy organizations. AMTA does not know why in his statement Will Green has referred to a relationship with AMTA regarding liability insurance, as we have never had discussions on insurance with him. Perhaps this is a typo in his email.

We would like to respond to his statements about the liability insurance of massage therapy organizations. It is very important for massage therapists to understand the differences between massage therapy organizations, the benefits they provide, how they are financially structured and supported and the type of liability insurance policy they provide... Because AMTA is a public company owned by its members...

AMTA annually releases information on its finances. We believe our members have the right to know about our financial health, including the security of our liability insurance policy... AMTA and our insurance coverage are very financially sound.

AMC Responds

We declined to do business with Mr. Green because we found him often to be 'factually challenged'. AMC rescinded its offer to purchase IMA's insurance operations because Mr. Green admitted to us that he had not paid over all of the premium money from his members to the insurance company to which it was intended.

Mr. Green does not understand how master policies work. Neither AMC, nor any other company of which I am aware, has an overall annual cap on the number of claims that its members can submit. If Mr. Green is telling the truth that he agreed to that, then his members were badly served by his decision.

Mr. Green also apparently does not understand how claims made coverage works. It is absolutely untrue that if any of our members leaves AMC that they 'have no coverage for past claims.' Claims made coverage is cheaper that gives substantial savings every year. In the event that someone leaves AMC for another company within the first five years, that member pays a small additional amount of money to be able to continue to report claims. After five years of membership, there is no additional charge for reporting claims but the savings continue.

Michael J. Schroeder, Vice-President and General Counsel for the American Massage Council 

HOTA Responds

The insurance carrier for Hands-On Trade Association (HOTA) is Markel American Insurance Company. Their AM Best rating is A (excellent) XIII. Markel is a U.S. based company with over $1.25 billion in assets. Their long-term outlook as of July 20, 2010 is A+.

HOTA has been very pleased with the relationship and service provided by Markel. They provide excellent coverage, have superior claims service, and pay claims in a timely manner.

HOTA has been serving our members with integrity for over 10 years. Our membership continues to grow.

Judi Calvert, President and CEO of HOTA

ATA Responds 

As a professional and a association founder of  ATA (The Alternative Therapy Association) It is with sadness over the past few months I  have witnessed so many trying to make sense of what IMA has done. Since my personal and professional philosophy is to embrace those in the industry, provide a non-competitive energy and always respect the path of others, ATA continues to simplify our response to IMA concerns by letting interested parties make their own evaluation while we provide ATA facts and knowledge about our program and groups.

We believe the professional out there is knowledgeable and are confident that they will make the right choice for their personal and professional needs at exactly the right time with who is right for them. Our facts remain that ATA is a BBB accredited business and our insurance underwriters, agents and associates are respectable leaders in the industry. They are financially stable companies based in the U.S. and have a solid financial forecast as well as a A+ rating for our insurance underwriters. Facts we provide our members and guest upfront.

Though to many this may look like a "no comment"  approach in contrast it says everything about our ethics. There is no desire to defend ourselves, clarify someone else's choices by speaking for them or compare ourselves to others. Our response again is simple to provide our facts and our knowledge about us. I am confident in the upcoming months and years that our groups benefits and services to our members will continue to grow and our insurance programs will be delivered with the highest integrity. Serving those who serve others is both a honor and a privilege we continue to share and embrace. 

With Gratitude, Kim Henderson


Massage Today will continue to follow this story, providing updates as available. For other Massage Today articles on this subject read:

 

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