The importance of finding the right group benefit broker.

on Wednesday, 10 October 2012. Posted in Group Benefits

When investing in a group benefit plan, every company deserves to get the best/right advice. It is a big investment and making a wrong decision can end up costing the company lots of money. We, as brokers, should be able to help employer with key decisions, such as whether choosing self-funding health coverage is a viable option or whether an insured plan might be more appropriate for the organization and its workforce. In addition, you can expect a good broker to help you through:

Finding Your Needs

Asking proper questions to find out as much information as possible before creating your plan is essential. For instance, the claim history of a group that has had benefits for a few years will start telling a story almost immediately. We can analyze patterns, trends and then create a recommendation that allow for cost containment within the plan. For a new group, it is always a bit trickier, and this is where asking key questions helps. Creating a plan design that suits the company’s needs means making fewer adjustments down the road. The goal is to minimize employees/employer disappointment from a reduction of benefits due to high claims while maintaining a reasonable premium level. This shows how important it is to find a broker who is willing to take the time to understand all of the company’s needs and who will be creative to find the right plan.

Changing Industry

Our industry changes constantly – do you have a broker who keeps up-to-date? The provinces are transferring costs more and more towards the insurance companies/employers. Recently the province of Ontario stopped paying for eye examination. In the past, chiropractic was also cover through the province, now it isn’t. These changes affect your plan and your broker should communicate these changes and any recommendations they may have.

Consultant Approach

When did you see your broker last? Many brokers meet their clients at renewal time which means that the plan is only reviewed once a year. This usually means lots of surprises for the employer, especially if it is their first renewal. We believe that a plan should be reviewed at least twice a year for the 1st three years of the plan implementation. After three years, the plan is more predictable. This however doesn’t mean that a broker shouldn’t periodically check up on the plan; it just means that a meeting with the employer might not be necessary. Also it is important to know that you MUST receive your renewal package at least 30 days prior to your renewal date to allow you enough time to renew.

Problem Solving

The selected broker should be able to understand the organization’s needs well enough to find creative solutions to issues and of course, stay compliant. A broker needs to be careful of what kind of change he/she will make to a plan as within Employee Benefit Plan, you cannot be anti-selective. This means that you cannot elect certain managers within the firm to have a higher level of benefits without including all the managers within the firm.

Specialized

It is important for organizations to deal with a team of experts especially when it comes to Group Benefit Plans. Group is quite complex and requires ongoing training. Ask for references or testimonials from existing clients.

Added Value

Is your broker willing to put on seminars to educate your staff on different topics and provide extended services to assist your employees with different needs? Your broker gets paid on average 10% commission of your monthly premium to service you. Do you get your monies worth? Monitoring you plan is not everything, trying to find creative ways to reduce drug claims are also part of being there for our clients.

You have the choice of choosing who you want to deal with so our best advice is to get to know your broker and maybe put them through and interview process if you are hesitant between two brokers.

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