Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ten Thoughts On Hiring A Benefits Broker

Engaging a broker to assist you with solving your benefits issues be they cost, communications, enrollment or problem solving with existing vendors can be a difficult task for business owners and professionals faced with the task. Here are some critical considerations to assist you in that task.

  1. Do you desire a transaction or a relationship with your broker rooted in performance over time?
  2. Do you want to work with someone who sells to you or someone who problem solves on your behalf? Its easy to separate the salesman barraging you with requests to quote your business its far more difficult to find the professional who proactively proposes solutions to your problems after asking a lot of questions. Professionals do not quote your business they are engaged upon being hired as they simply do not need the practice.
  3. Google is your friend.Google the brokers name. What does it tell you about that individual? Are they published? What is their background professionally? Do they offer valuable professional insights and opinion on the pressing matters of the day like health care reform?
  4. Are they independent? By that I mean do they represent multiple insurance companies?
  5. What is the brokers business model?  Are they focused on revenue generation or the service of existing customers?Will you as the business owner or benefits owner deal with someone who is an experienced professional or will you deal primarily with an account manager or service prepresentative who works for the broker? If the latter why not just hire your own clerk? Who you deal with routinely is a good insight into the business model a broker utilizes.
  6. Does the broker specialize in benefits? Property & Casualty and Employee benefits are fundamentally different businesses with different markets and completely different risk dynamics. Dealing with the benefits department at a P&C shop is like buying fine wine at a convenience store; you may geta bottle but you may not savor the experience. People who are experts at everything tend to lie about other stuff too.
  7. Can the broker interface effectively and educate and train your staff to effectively manage benefits through vendors or will you have to go through the broker for every trivial issue? The best brokers align competent vendors who can deliver for their clients based on clearly defined expectations and get involved quickly when the vendor stumbles. In the era of HIPAA relying on your broker to solve every issue is a recipe for delay and frustration but some brokers like to control their clients in this manner always blaming the carriers.
  8. Who called whom? In other words are you giving a shot to someone who has been begging you for years to quote your business or are you contacting a broker whom you were referred to by someone whose opinion you respect? Think about this carefully.
  9. Do you really want to deal with an employee about employee benefits? In other words as a business owner or the principal  at your firm charged with handling employee benefits do you want to deal with someone who receives a paycheck for doing a job or someone whose compensation is based on performance and your ultimate satisfaction? In America the best professionals work for themselves because they can its really that simple.
  10. Bigger is not necessarily better. You want someone you would easily refer to a family member or best friend needing assistance with employee benefits. If you do not feel this way about your broker it may be time to shop for a new broker.

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