Selecting the right employee benefits broker for your organization is one of the most important decisions a benefits professional will make. Choosing a sub-par consultant could cost your organization millions of dollars in healthcare expenses, negatively impact employee health, and harm your relationships with insurance carriers. (So no pressure!)
What is an employee benefits broker?
Think of benefits brokers as a middleman — between you and insurance carriers. Their job is to negotiate benefits plans that give your company the most bang for your buck, create communications strategies that help your employees choose and use their benefits, and help you protect your healthcare investment.
So how do you choose the right employee benefits broker? The truth is, most brokers aren’t up against much competition when they’re pitching their services to you. The normal sale process is: you’re looking for a new broker, you find one, you fall in love, you don’t look at any other brokers.
But that puts you at a disadvantage. If you don’t compare a few broker options and negotiate a bit, you’ll never really know if what you’re getting is the best for your organization. So to ensure you pick the best broker for your organization, talk to at least a handful before you sign a contract.
To help you prepare, here are eight questions to ask a broker during your first few conversations:
1. How will you help me streamline my open enrollment process?
The first step of any benefits strategy is to make sure employees choose the right ones. And a broker’s job is to help you make that happen during open enrollment — by saving you time and money with the right tools, resources, and best practices based on their industry expertise.
2. What’s your benefits communication plan?
Brokers aren’t just plan designers anymore: they’re communications experts. And they’re not just there to offer a tip or two about how to update your benefits materials: they should have a fully formed communications strategy, and lead the way towards making sure your employees get the right information at the right time.
Ask what their communications goals are, what tactics they use, and what tools they have on hand to make the process easier.
3. How will you help me contain healthcare costs?
Healthcare costs are rising with no end in sight, and a good benefits broker will be able to help you face those costs head-on. Whether it’s choosing less expensive health plans, driving employees towards smarter decision-making, or finding creative ways to save on payroll taxes, your benefits broker should be an authority on curbing healthcare spending.
4. How would you help me vet the right HR tech for my company?
A broker should be able to make informed recommendations about the HR software that would be most helpful for your company (and the ones you should steer clear of). The best brokers will also be able to make introductions to the right points of contact at HR tech companies, and maybe even negotiate a deal for you.