J. Thomas Koch
For Tom Koch, designing and delivering quality, cost effective insurance coverage to family physicians has been more a passion than a job. Literally, he has devoted his entire 40-year career not just to insurance, but to AAFP Insurance Services.
“I started as a part-timer in the summers when I was in college – stuffing envelopes and calculating by hand premium age rate changes. So, I guess you could say I started in the mailroom. I had the unique opportunity to learn the business from the ground up.”
Joining the organization full-time upon graduation from Vanderbilt University in 1971, Tom worked in several positions before becoming president in 1981.
Along the way, in addition to serving members, he helped to shape the industry itself. In 1975, he co-founded the Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) a nationwide trade association whose members provide insurance coverage to professional associations.
Tom is also a past president of the American Institute of Professional Association Group Insurance Administrators (AIPAGIA). He earned his RHU (Registered Health Underwriter) designation from the American College, and is licensed in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Learning from his father, who was president of Insurance Services before him, Tom sees his role not as selling insurance, but of serving members and meeting their protection needs.
“We do not take off-the-rack coverages from big insurance companies. We design the policies that best reflect the needs of our members and then seek out the insurers that can deliver those policies at competitive costs,” he says. “That is one of the things that make us unique: We put our members’ needs first because AAFP Insurance Services is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the AAFP Foundation. Every member of the Board of Directors is a Family Physician. So Insurance Services is operated by family physicians solely for family physicians.
Why does Tom believe in insurance? “I believe in living a balanced, well-ordered life, and that requires a certain peace of mind. Insurance is a tool that allows someone to mitigate the financial impact of some of life’s uncertainties, and that can help maintain balance, order, and hopefully, peace of mind.
“That is my goal when it comes to working with our family physician members. The best part of what I do is the satisfaction of helping, if only in a small way, members to have one less thing to worry about – freeing them to concentrate on practicing medicine and providing the best primary care in the world.”
And, yes, Tom does have a life beyond work. “Working with family physicians is my passion, but outside of work, I enjoy our six grandchildren, traveling, reading, small gatherings of friends and family, walking, and swimming. I also enjoy puzzles, live theater, classical music and political discussions.”