One of the issues that we often hear about is the idea of changing health insurance brokers. More specifically, the pains involved in finding, hiring and vetting out your potential broker’s capabilities. While I’d love to soapbox about everything that you broker should be doing for you, this article discusses a few things to look for if you do decide to make the jump.
If you want to find more topics about things like broker responsibilities and other ways to bring down costs, click here
Now – on with the list
- Find out who your broker works for (seriously, read on)
This sound a bit odd, but you want to make sure that any potential broker’s first priority is you, the client. Its important to understand how your broker is getting paid – they represent you but they may also get commissions from the insurance carriers. There’s nothing wrong with that. Actually, it’s really a great model for smaller companies because they won’t have to pay for the broker services. You just want to make sure that they truly have your best interests in mind, and aren’t placing you with carriers based off commission levels.
- See what kinds of products get brought to the table
One of the most important responsibilities of a broker is to bring new ideas to the table. Not just in terms of insurance (renewals), but also regarding additional products like wellness, health literacy and new provider styles (like tele-health). A really good broker will show you options and research new options that you bring to them.
- How is their book of business divided?
Ok, go back to point #1 – remember when we talked about brokers writing all their business with one carrier? You want to make sure that they’re not heavily weighted towards one. At least when it comes to their entire book, as in clients of varying sizes with different carriers.
- Why are you making a switch?
This is one factor that is often overlooked. You may be a new HR manager at your company and want to use your old broker that you’re comfortable with. Your boss may have directed you to shop around simply because you “haven’t done it in a while”. Whatever the reason, its important to look at your reasoning. After the “Affordable Care Act” came into play a lot of people changed brokers to pacify their fears about incoming changes. While there will always be good brokers available to work with, you want to change for the right reasons, otherwise you may rush into things.
- How are they planning on reducing your future costs?
Every renewal is going to be focused around reducing costs. That’s just the way it is, right? You have big costs and you want them to be lower. Different brokers will have different ways to address this. Some will boost your deductible, some will try to bring new products to the table to address problems that your company has. Some will suggest self-funded plans (that’s another topic), and that really may be a good option. Either way, its important to vet out their ideas and see what works best. Ultimately there has to be a lot of trust involved, so pick someone that you’re comfortable bouncing ideas around with that is willing to hear YOUR needs, and not put you (square peg) into their book (round hole).