By: Kayla Bell on June 11th, 2014

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How to Evaluate Your Benefits Broker & Get the Best Service Possible

Communication | Benefits | Best Practices | Employee Relations

With the dawn of health care reform and the increased focus on regulation and cost control, it has never been more important for employers to have a good insurance broker to help navigate the logistics and best practices surrounding benefits administration. But, not all brokers are created equal.

One of our top recommendations to our clients is to have criteria in place to evaluate whether your broker relationship is working for your business. The quality and communication of your benefits can have far reaching effects on the recruitment, retention, and engagement of your workforce.

10 Qualities to Look for in Your Benefits Broker:

Here are ten things to look for if you’re considering a new broker or reviewing your existing broker. 

A Good Insurance Broker Will:

  1. Offer to monitor your claim levels on a quarterly, if not monthly basis and alert you to any major fluctuations that will in turn affect your rates for the following year. A good broker will also proactively strategize with you on cost control.
  2. Start working with you at least 100 days in advance of any plan renewals to ensure that census information is collected and taken to the market for bids in a timely manner; if the company is considering major changes, the first conversations regarding renewal should start even further in advance. Any request for proposal (RFP) should come with a comprehensive cost benefit analysis and should also review the employee contribution amount. Your broker should never tell you what the best plan is, they should be able to show you through numerical analysis. They also shouldn’t be afraid to tell you if the least expensive plan isn’t the best plan.
  3. Help you address staggered renewals to bring them onto the same plan year, if the company wishes to do this.
  4. Provide professional marketing materials for employee distribution even if no plan changes are made. Provide marketing materials for new hire orientations.
  5. Assist in drafting communications for any changes that are made and also offer to attend Open Enrollment meetings in person with employees to address changes.
  6. Provide recommendations based on market benchmarks (what other companies are offering) and also company utilization (what benefits current employees are heavily using).
  7. Propose online solutions for benefit communication; some brokers have their own template websites where they can post all company plan documents, forms, etc.
  8. Keep the company well briefed on healthcare reform and other legal issues surrounding employee benefits; notify you of any necessary actions well in advance of deadlines.
  9. Offer value added services like COBRA administration, billing reconciliation, wellness services ( these services normally have an additional cost).
  10. Partner effectively with HR to resolve any issues regarding employee eligibility, coverage, or individual claims.

A good broker should be a true partner to your business. If your only interaction occurs in the last 60 days before your major plan renewals, you are not getting the most out of the relationship. Benefits are complex, specialized, and fraught with legal risk. The best brokers truly function as trusted advisors that educate your organization about options and cost as they design a benefit program that is tailored for your business.