Make sure your broker is offering these 3 things — or reconsider your partnership

If your organization offers group benefits, you almost certainly work with a benefits broker. When it’s time to renew your group plan every year, you might wonder if the broker you are working with is providing the most value.

Benefits are complicated — which can make it hard to gauge how effective your broker is, or to measure a potential new broker’s performance versus your current one. This can lead to inertia, which can unfortunately lead to a benefits strategy that isn’t optimized or cost-effective.

But even if you wanted to see what other options were out there, what metrics would you use to choose the right partner? Here are three things employers should expect from a benefits broker.

Strategy

At this point in time, your benefits broker should be broaching the subject of self-insuring your group plan. With the average annual cost of family coverage hitting nearly $20,000, most in the industry recognize that moving away from the fully-insured approach may be necessary to stem the rate of premium increases.

business meeting financial adviser

Moving to a self-insured strategy can create a more sustainable benefits plan by allowing employers more transparency and control over their claims spending.

In some cases, moving away from the fully-insured approach may not be the best or most cost-effective option for your organization, but this is something your broker should be helping you understand.

Software

With more than $1 billion invested in HR technology last year, there are more options than ever before for small and mid-sized businesses to take their benefits and HR administration online. Because benefits affect so many parts of the HR ecosystem, your broker should be a partner in this process.

There are many advantages associated with using an HR system vetted by a benefits broker. Because benefits are so complex, and affect so much of the HR ecosystem, using a system supported by a trusted adviser typically produces the best results.

Service

Your broker should be staffed and willing to go to the mat for you and your employees on claims issues, enrollment assistance and anything else that arises. While not every brokerage provides this level of customer service, many do, and it’s worth working with an agency that provides a high level of client service.

The alternative is that the HR department often winds up spending a lot of time chasing paperwork or on the phone with insurance carriers. Managing benefits over the year is certainly an investment of time and resources, which is why a quality broker is prepared to handle these issues for you.

Working with an experienced broker that provides the combination of strategy, service and software can have a significant impact across your organization. By freeing up the HR department to focus on more strategic, business-building activities, benefits brokers can provide immense value. If your broker isn’t hitting the mark, it may be time to reevaluate.

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