Having a strong partnership with a licensed benefits broker can be very good for your company and your employees. Brokers can leverage their relationships with carriers to help you maximize coverage options, and find discounted solutions you may not be able to find on your own. In many cases, they hold the keys to simplifying online enrollment, and having access to real-time program reporting. What’s more, they are there to help you stay compliant with state and federal requirements regarding benefits programs and offerings.
When you consider the role that a benefits broker can play, it leads to a key question: How do you know if your broker is the right match for your organization? How would you measure the effectiveness of your current broker? Would you classify your relationship as a true partnership?
Working with a Benefits Broker
Many organizations pick their benefits broker based on their experience working with other organizations that are similar to theirs. They might look at things like:
- The size of organizations a broker supports
- Different industries these businesses are in
- The lifestyle needs and choices of other employee populations, compared with their own
While these considerations are valuable, they only scratch the surface when it comes to selecting a broker.
- Ideally, your broker has the ability to form a deep professional understanding of your goals, and what you want to achieve on account of your benefit plans.
- And, since goals vary quite a bit, you want your broker to be an adept listener who can pivot services toward finding solutions that make a difference.
Keep reading to find three tips that can help you when it’s time to explore your broker relationship, compare brokers, and more.
HR must juggle multiple responsibilities every day. That includes benefits administration, which can make it difficult to be proactive about benefits. A strong broker relationship can a key to getting more out of your benefits. A cloud-based benefits administration tool like BeneTrac can be another major resource. Learn more.
Optimize Your Benefits Program with Your Broker
A strong broker relationship can bring much-needed support to your employees, your organization, and your own workload. However, optimizing benefits with the help of a broker is about much more than just shopping for coverage from different carriers.
For starters, it involves working with a broker who takes a well-rounded approach to how you strategize, budget, and design your benefits plan. Therefore, if your broker only helps you shop for plans, and disappears most of the year, you might not be reaping the full benefits of your partnership.
The following three tips can help you examine the strength of your current broker relationship, and set the stage for finding a new broker:
1. Identify the skills you need in your broker
Employers don’t select brokers very often. Therefore, it’s easy to stay on top of the latest skills, tools, and capabilities that modern benefits brokers possess. However, in today’s health care reality, ignorance about brokers is not an option:
- Your broker might be responsible for helping you manage a budget that makes up nearly 40% of your payroll.
- Even a small difference in their capabilities can affect costs.
As independent professionals, brokers are the bridge between your organization, and the vast health care marketplace. Ideally, your brokers will work with you to evaluate major insurance carriers, structure a plan, communicate on your behalf, explain nuances to your employees, and much more.
Brokers also can play a critical role when it comes to helping your employees become well-informed health care consumers. If you want this result, then you want a broker who can:
- Provide workers with valuable learning tools and resources
- Explain the complexities involved in certain plan types
- Bring insight into costs and pricing models
- Go to bat for you when situations come up with carriers
2. Be open to shopping around
Changing relationships can be difficult. However, if your current broker is unable to bring you the results you need, shopping around may be the way to go.
When it’s time to compare, it can be difficult to measure how brokers differ. In fact, it’s not always easy to see a difference that will drive you to change brokers. To compare brokers:
- Look beyond premiums. After all, you may need your broker to be heavily involved in enhancing the employee experience.
- Talk to colleagues in other organizations about their benefits broker. Whose professional reputation rises to the top?
- Ask for direct referrals from people and organizations you trust.
- Be sure to check licenses and professional registrations. You may even search disciplinary records via the insurance commissioner’s consumer hotline in your state.
To see how well their skills match with your needs:
- Ask for examples of their experience.
- Find out what their focus is. Some brokers focus on specific products that may or may not meet your needs.
- Consider the breadth of the networks they have access to. When you do, make sure these align with the needs and expectations of your employees.
3. Pay attention to other ways your broker can help support employees
The way you handle benefits communication can affect employee morale, and spur enthusiasm for your benefits program. Your broker can play a major role in helping you execute your benefits communications strategy.
- As your broker helps you sort through different plans, they can include employees in the process. This type of back-and-forth can involve open, ongoing communication, interviews with employees, surveys, group meetings and more.
- Your broker can also play a role when it’s time to communicate benefits changes. As an industry professional, they can help reassure employees, and even empower them as time gets closer to open enrollment.
- When more employees engage in your benefits program, it can helps generate a positive return on a very large investment. Your broker can be a big help when it comes to creating confidence in your carrier.
Don’t settle for a broker relationship that falls short of expectations, especially when it comes to managing costs, simplifying communications, and maximizing the benefits experience. True, levels of services and professionalism will always vary from one insurance professional to another.
However, as you consider your broker relationship, the general rule of thumb is to make sure you and your people are getting the support you need on every level—including costs, support, enrollment, communication, and benefits workflow.
When it’s time to hire a new broker, how well you prepare will make a key difference. Having the right benefits tools, such as benefits administration software like BeneTrac, can also help you and your organization stay ahead. Contact a BeneTrac representative, and find out how we can help support your efforts.