2020’s open enrollment is in mid-swing and, as a business owner, employer or HR professional, you’ve most likely started to consider your organization’s benefits plan and what you might be looking to adjust in 2021. As you begin to outline what you’re searching for, you’ll probably have a lot of questions and concerns due to the unprecedented nature of 2020. Did your rates increase? Were you not offered the coverage you wanted? Are you sure you have the right consultant?
All these questions are important, not only to an employer looking strategically at their healthcare plans, but also to the employees who rely on their bosses and HR reps to help secure the most comprehensive and reasonable-costing plans available. To accomplish that, you need the right insurance broker, but it can often be hard to know who and what is out there. While new technologies and marketplaces are being created, it’s always a good idea to have some background knowledge and basic know-how going into the search.
So, you’re on the hunt for an insurance broker and don’t know where to start or what to even look for. A few things you’ll want to consider are experience, fees, references, their approach to benefits and the marketplace itself. All these factors go into ensuring you have the right consultant for you and your employees.
A first step is to make sure your insurance broker has prior knowledge on your specific business. In other words, experience. Each segment has unique personas and there are strategies to use to best serve each employer size and industry category; therefore, it’s extremely important for your insurance broker to have experience in your sector.
Next, find out what the word around town is about the insurance broker you’re looking at. Like any smart buyer, you should do some research about who you’re considering. Ask around for references and reviews to see what other people have said, and not just the ones they tell you to call. Be sure to also look for insights from employers and businesses like your own to see how the insurance broker helped them.
Also, don’t forget to look at costs and fees. What are they charging? Ask what their fee structure is right away. Also, ask what they receive in supplemental commissions — a fancy way to say they’re getting a dollar amount or percentage commission on the premium set prior to purchase or renewal of a policy. Don’t settle for a vague answer; push for the hard dollar amount. You deserve to know; it is your money, after all.
Another important factor is loyalty. Will that insurance broker be your ally and go to bat for you when the going gets tough? Ask for two to three examples of when the insurance broker has gone to a carrier to fight for their employer clients. Not only do you depend on a loyal insurance broker, but your employees have also placed their trust in you and depend on you for reasonable coverage that is fair and comprehensive.
Lastly, never stop evaluating. If you have had the same broker the past few years, make sure they are the right one for you. In the same way you evaluate any vendor, especially those that heavily influence one of your biggest expenses, make sure they are the right relationship, consistently. Keep a pulse on the marketplace and competitors to make sure you and your employees are being serviced by the best insurance broker possible. Remember, getting second opinions and having consultations with highly rated brokers in your market is a good way to ensure you have the right benefits at the right cost.
At the end of the day, it’s about your team and giving them the best insurance and benefits possible. Do your research, ask around, and never stop looking at your coverage to always be on top of the insurance brokerage industry.
Anthony Waters is the vice president of Product & Strategy at Mployer Advisor, the nation’s leading digital marketplace, changing the way employers search, evaluate and select insurance advisors. Prior to Mployer Advisor, Waters has spent the last decade working in various business development and leadership roles in the group benefits space.