10 Things Employers Think Make a Great Broker

Employers want to make sure they’ve selected the right broker for evaluating, expanding and maintaining their benefit programs, particularly voluntary. Employee Benefit News posted an online story on April 6 in which Craig T. Dandrow, Executive Vice President and Senior Consultant at Hays Companies, outlined the 10 common criteria employers look for when trying to find the right broker partner:

  1. Comfort Level. How comfortable are employers working with their existing broker(s)? Do they feel that their best interests (and those of their employees) are being kept in mind? Successful relationships are built upon open and honest dialogue.
  2. Trust. Does the employer trust the intentions of their current broker(s)? When discussing strategy, do they feel like their broker is trying to assist with developing a meaningful employee benefits offering — or merely trying to sell something?
  3. Resources. What resources does the broker bring to the table in order to assist with selecting the appropriate components of an employee benefits offering? For example, can the broker effectively use the employer’s medical/dental/disability insurance plans’ claims, employees’ financial/age/gender demographics, or survey feedback to help the employee make an educated decision on what voluntary product(s) to implement or maintain?
  4. Experience. Has your broker implemented both traditional and voluntary benefits programs before? If so, what aspects of prior rollouts went well? What didn’t go according to plan? What were the lessons learned that can help your company avoid potential pitfalls down the road?
  5. Knowledge. How knowledgeable is the broker of both the traditional and voluntary benefits marketplaces? There are many nuances amongst carriers and products, such as plan designs, guarantee-issue amounts, enrollment requirements and ongoing support. Has the broker thoroughly explained these to the employer? Does the employer feel confident that the carrier(s) and product(s) being selected are the best fit for their company and their employees?
  6. Innovation. Is the broker keeping the employer apprised of developments within the voluntary benefits world as it continues to evolve and expand? The employee benefits offering should constantly be evaluated as new carriers and products enter the marketplace.
  7. Support. What educational materials and support can the broker bring to the table in order to assist the employer with a successful voluntary benefits rollout? Keep in mind that it should be successful for both employees and the HR team.
  8. Strategy. Has the broker helped the employer develop thoughtful short-term and long-term strategies for their voluntary benefits program? How are carriers being selected? How and when are products being rolled out? How will employees be educated? How, when and where will enrollment happen? How will payroll be updated? How will future new hires and open enrollment work? Voluntary benefit programs can be complex — and as the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
  9. Compliance and regulatory care. Has the broker explained what regulatory requirements apply to an employer’s voluntary employee benefits program? Are there components of your offering that meet the DOL’s safe harbor requirements? Do ERISA, COBRA, and/or HIPAA apply? Is plan documentation up to par? Does the broker have your back in ensuring that your program is in compliance?
  10. Compensation.  Voluntary benefits can be a valuable source of income to a broker. Does the employer feel comfortable with how the broker is being compensated, as well as other potential third parties? Keep in mind that successful voluntary benefit programs require a lot of work on the broker’s end. Does the employer feel that they’re getting their money’s worth? Oftentimes this may seem like a taboo topic of discussion, but if the employer selected the right partner, it shouldn’t be.
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