The Benefits of Hiring the Right Broker
Employee benefits plans can be intimidating for those responsible for managing them. There are many options from which to choose, the language of benefits plans is not simple to understand, and navigating the complexity of the plans and claims process can be daunting for even those well versed in benefits. Enter benefits brokers – those with professional knowledge in the benefits space who help companies assess their needs, shop for the best value, assist in the event of claims, and help maintain compliance with state and federal regulations, including ERISA and the Affordable Care Act.
Unless you have a comprehensive understanding of health care and employee benefits programs, you may have a tough time balancing your leadership responsibilities while educating yourself and your employees on benefits policies in an increasingly complex regulatory environment. That’s why it’s vital to partner with a competent benefit broker. A broker will:
- Assess your needs and obtain quotes.
- Compare coverage of different insurers to get the best rates.
- Make recommendations in an unbiased manner.
- Search for opportunities to reduce overall premiums.
- Explain premiums, terms, and conditions of coverage.
- Provide administrative follow-up, such assisting in binding coverage, open enrollment support, certificates of insurance, etc.
- Be available to answer questions following purchase/renewal.
- Assist in claims handling.
- Help you understand and comply with state and federal benefits laws.
When choosing a benefits broker, consider a broker who has experience with companies in the industry in which you operate, as well as companies of similar size, demographics, and geography. You also want to ensure the broker possesses a comprehensive knowledge of various insurers, plan designs, and funding options. There are many options for employers and it’s important that your broker is knowledgeable in ALL of them, from traditional plans to CDHPs, and from self-funded to fully funded options. Your broker should be able to tell you the pros and cons of each and the impact (financial and otherwise) to your company.
In addition to medical insurance, you want to ensure that your broker is knowledgeable on other types of benefits that you may wish to offer to your employees — dental, vision, disability, and life insurance, among others.
In selecting a broker, you should determine the level of support that they will provide during your open enrollment season. Many will conduct your educational meetings if you desire and assist in open enrollment communications.
You should also find out the extent to which the broker will assist with claim issues. Some brokers have account managers whose sole purpose is to assist employees when these challenges arise and help them navigate their issues to resolution.
Ensure that the broker is knowledgeable of and will support your compliance efforts. Many brokers will conduct a compliance review on your behalf, identify areas for improvement, and help bring your organization into compliance. Audits are on the rise, so this is a key area where a benefits broker can add value.
Finally, all the aforementioned services and requests should be provided in an efficient, timely, and polite manner. Customer service levels are often what will differentiate one broker from another, so ensure that you check references and that a broker’s current customers are pleased with the responsiveness and service provided.
Finding the right benefits broker for your company can be a challenge; however, if you review the items above and take the time to thoroughly evaluate potential brokers, you will increase your chances of success and ensure the right benefits solutions for your company.Tags: benefits, broker, compliance, insurance