When the term ‘broker’ is uttered, most people think of real estate brokers or insurance brokers. Well, brokers are basically individuals who have several options, regardless of the speciality, and help other people narrow down their options. Employee benefits are exactly that. They have access to various employee benefits options (including information about benefits) and can help you narrow down by giving suggestions and expertise on the subject.
However, it’s imperative to keep in mind that employee benefits brokers are not the same speak to IDEX consulting for advice. Some work for one institution like a big health insurance company and so, they will just steer you through the options of that firm. Others may not work for one organization, but may only deal with one kind of benefit. Still, others may have a wide array of employee benefits options, but may not have in-depth knowledge of all items. These are all things that you need to consider.
So, What Are the Duties of an Employee Benefits Broker?
When choosing an employee benefits broker, ensure that you know which topic (discussed below) is the most important to you and ascertain that the broker can help with your inquiries. Keep in mind that not every broker will do every item on this read.
That being said, here are some of the things a broker in employee benefits can be able to provide:
-Information and help in selecting the various types of insurance including life, health, dental, vision, disability, etc. Bear in mind that not all employee benefits brokers provide a full range of coverage options, but most of them specialize in insurance to some extent.
-Help with employee communications that are related to the enrolment of benefits.
-Advice on ways to reduce the total costs like reducing total premiums.
-Compliance information, helping employers ascertain they’re compliant with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Affordable Care Act and other regulations relevant for the benefits in question.
-Contract review and negotiating with the employee benefits providers to secure a great deal. They can come in handy by creating a customized insurance company for your company.
-Help in resolving issues. An employee benefits broker can act as the go-between person to help resolve any issues with benefits administration or claims.
-Assessing the current claims and benefits to give advice on changes and possible cost savings.
-Assisting employees who have coverage, benefits, or need assistance with claims.
-Advice on changes to employee benefits packages based on the demographics of your workforce and providing an analysis of the past utilization rates.
-Educating employees regarding their options during enrolment.
Again, keep in mind that not all employee benefits brokers provide all the services mentioned above. That’s why it is important to ask in advance which of the items they will provide. The more services an employee benefits broker provides, the better. However, you will need to put costs into the equation.
Once you know the services you would want from a benefits broker, there are a few other things to consider including:
Any employee benefits broker providing insurance needs to be licensed to provide their services legally. Consider whether the broker will require licenses across multiple states in order to serve your company, or if you’ll need multiple brokers licensed in varying states. If you do, then you may want to settle for a company with expertise in multiple locations.
While some individuals use the terms employee benefits broker and consultant interchangeably, they are not necessarily the same. Some would argue that a benefits consultant does more than a broker by giving more in-depth consulting as well as decision-making help to both employers and employees. An employee benefits consultant is more likely to have the capability to help with multiple forms of benefits and not just insurance. As such, it is imperative to consider which option you need. Also, keep in mind that the cost structure between brokers and consultants may differ.
Brokers may also work for or have contracts with certain insurance companies. As such, it is imperative to ask what carriers the employee benefits broker assesses before making recommendations. Working with a specific insurance firm is not necessarily a bad thing and could actually result in some sweet discounts. However, it is important to know what you will be getting and the trade-offs you’ll be making.
Employee benefits brokers have fees, but they are usually bundled into the coverage you get. Inquire about this upfront and if there are any additional fees. Some benefits brokers, however, operate on a flat fee that’s based on your needs.
These are the most important things to consider when choosing an employee benefits broker.