Is It Time to Replace Your Employee Benefits Broker?

Employers may neglect opportunities for handling costs and enhancing the satisfaction of employees with relation to their benefits package due to a poor relationship with a benefits broker.

In case you want to recruit a new broker, you must diligently prepare for it. An employer who completely comprehends its importance and knows what the marketplace has enjoys a better chance when it comes to choosing a broker who works well for the company.

Getting the Help You Need

For an employer, a proper broker is experienced and has worked with companies that are of similar size and have almost the same number of employees. Moreover, the benefits budget, industry, and geography should also resemble that of the employer's. The perfect broker would also understand the objective of the employer by leveraging the benefit plans. The broker’s experience must assist the employer in achieving such goals.

According to Gil Murdock, a principal at DirectPath- a firm working with brokers and offers services related to personalized healthcare benefits, education, and transparency- HR tends to be short on staff while handling their everyday operations. Thus, handling benefits proactively can be a challenge. In a few cases, establishing a robust relationship with the broker can eliminate the need for HR to recruit more staff, particularly to deal with benefit-program management as the broker can deal with it.

Furthermore, with a robust broker relationship, required support is also directed towards increased consumption of health care. Murdock added that employees could only become better when it comes to health care consumption if employers have adequate tools to describe the various intricacies underlying it, such as the way in which health savings accounts function. Moreover, they must also ensure transparency in terms of health care costs and pricing. Thus, a broker must be able to provide employers with access to such tools.

Why Do You Want a Change?

A lot of factors influence employers to look for a new broker. A few merely want to ensure that their existing arrangement with their broker continues to be competitive in terms of expenses.

Others might wish to understand the various service levels offered in the market for companies of their size. If an employer has experienced substantial growth in the last few years, there may be a need to recruit a new broker capable of negotiating better deals for benefits programs that are expansive. In a few cases, a company that is growing may also expand geographically and realize that it requires a broker that is more-compliance-savvy to assist in managing the needs of different state and local laws and regulations associated with benefits plans.

In certain other cases, the change in the broker might be the result of a new HR leadership aiming to look through the marketplace and establish a new broker relationship that is more in line with the new leader’s goals. Alternatively, the employer might merely feel that the company is not enjoying adequate attention or the services that were promised by the existing broker.

Before an employer begins to look for a new broker, there is a need to take stock of previous broker relationships. According to Perry Braun, executive director of Benefits Advisors Network, inventorying the experience is crucial by listing out the various aspects that you liked as well as disliked in relation to the relationship. This will ensure that you are clear about what you must look for in your next advisor.

Set Clear Expectations

The start of a new broker relationship must always be based on clear expectations regarding every activity that the broker will be involved in. Accountability is a crucial consideration to ensure that the broker is capable of working within the employer’s budget. Thus, it will allow employers to provide benefit programs that align with the needs of the employees without surpassing their budget.

What to Ask Potential Brokers

What strengthens a broker relationship? W recommend asking a few questions to find the ideal employee benefits broker:

  • What is your general frequency of meeting your clients? In case the broker meets the clients merely for plan renewal, it could be a problem. Employers must think about finding a broker who tends to meet frequently to provide updates related to each quarter, policies and to answer the client’s queries.

  • How did you work with your other clients for designing a benefits package that aligns with their specific needs? Needless to say, deals associated with benefits are never a "one-size-fits-all." When a plan is being formulated, the employer must be involved to make sure that the unique requirements of the employees are taken into account while developing it.

  • How did you assist your new clients in informing their employees about their benefits alternatives? Various resources such as webinars, benefit newsletters, and informational sessions can be provided by brokers to assist their client's employees with comprehending their benefits.

  • What is a scenario that you faced that you would consider being an extremely critical benefits situation, and how was it resolved? In case of unexpected events, a broker must function as a point person and assist their clients with navigating the problem.

  • Who will function as my point of contact at your firm, and what is their total number of clients right now? Similar to any other business contract, it is crucial to consider the broker to be an extension of your team. Learn more about the individual who will manage your account and the total number of accounts they are handling to gauge the attention you can expect.

  • Please send forth your references. You must seek their references and check with them regarding the questions above. Their answers can confirm or deny the answers of a potential broker and can help you make a decision.

Have any questions about brokers? Contact us at (212) 365-4553 or to learn more.

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