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How to Select a Benefits Broker – 7 Services Your Broker Should Provide

Contributor: Jack Wang, Account Executive

February 15th, 2023 | 5 min. read

By Tony Calavitta

How to Select a Benefits Broker – 7 Services Your Broker Should Provide

In today’s competitive employment environment, more and more prospective and current employees are demanding a comprehensive benefits program as part of their compensation package.

In fact, according to MetLife’s Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Survey, over 30% of employees would even accept a lower income as a trade-off for a better benefits program.

What does this rising demand for better benefits mean for employers?

Simply stated, it means that in order to attract and retain top talent, employers must provide employees with the best possible benefits program.

By partnering with an employee benefits broker, you can be certain that the benefits program you offer is up to par. But with over 400,000 insurance broker agencies in the U.S. alone, choosing the right benefits broker for your business can seem like finding a needle in a haystack.

Here at Combined, our benefits experts have helped a large number of employers partner with their ideal benefits broker. We are determined to help you sift through the haystack of agencies, find the elusive needle amidst broker options, and reap the rewards of a perfect broker partnership.

In this article, we will explore the 7 most important services your ideal benefits broker should provide. By reading, you will be equipped to choose the right benefits broker for your business.

What is an employee benefits broker?

An employee benefits broker is a licensed insurance professional with expertise in employee benefits administration. Their job is to help employers navigate the process of selecting employee benefits plans.

If you were looking to buy a house, why would you hire a real estate broker? Because they have specialized knowledge of the property industry, access to home listings, and pricing resources to help score you the best market deal.

An employee benefits broker has the same relationship with an employer that a real estate broker has with a homebuyer.

They are able to offer specialized knowledge and resources on:

  • The comparability of different benefits vendors
  • The availability of different benefits programs
  • The pricing of different benefits plan

The difference here is, you don’t have to pay a benefits broker. By partnering with a benefits broker, you can make sure the employee benefits program you offer is competitive at no extra cost to you.

7 must-have services to consider when selecting your benefits broker

On a fundamental level, the job of any benefits broker is to negotiate quotes with a variety of insurance carriers and offer you advice on which to choose.

But an ideal benefits broker will do a lot more for you and your employees than just that.

Here are 7 services that your benefits broker should offer:

1. Your benefits broker should offer access to easy-to-use benefits administration software

Benefits administration software is an invaluable tool.

Think of it like your mobile banking application – whether you need to deposit a check, transfer funds, make a credit card payment, or view your statement, you can easily do so in one location.

This is how benefits administration software works – it streamlines, otherwise, separate benefits functions.

It is a single platform, like a mobile banking application, where you can easily manage benefits plans, process your employee benefits enrollment, and even integrate with your other employment systems like payroll and HR software.

And all without the hassle of endless paperwork.

2. Your benefits broker should offer intuitive enrollment support

Open enrollment can be a complicated process.

Your broker should be able to simplify it by providing direct enrollment support to your employees.

Accessible enrollment support will not only bolster employee satisfaction with their benefits program, but will also ensure that your employee enrollment is completed correctly.

A few ways your benefits broker can provide enrollment support include:

  • Offering your employees educational enrollment guides or videos
  • Providing your employees easy to understand information about the enrollment process
  • Answering any relevant questions your employees may have through the enrollment process
  • Helping your employees to successfully complete open enrollment

3. Your benefits broker should offer capable claim support

Your benefits broker should be ready to assist your employees with pending insurance claims.

More than likely, your employees do not specialize in health insurance claim management. So, in the case of a claim, they may require expert help.

This is where your benefits broker can be very valuable.

By acting as a liaison for your employees, your benefits broker can make sure claims are properly and expediently resolved with the insurance company.

4. Your benefits broker should offer dependable compliance support

As an employer, you already understand the importance of compliance management. You also know that it can become a tedious and time-consuming task.

Your benefits broker can help shoulder some of this responsibility.

By providing compliance support concerning the insurance you offer, a benefits broker can be an asset to you and your HR team.

Your benefits broker can assist with compliance management in several ways:

  • Performing routine risk assessments
  • Conducting meetings with your HR team to identify and solve benefits-related problems
  • Offering educational resources like newsletters or webinars that cover relevant compliance updates

5. Your benefits broker should offer available and accessible assistance

Have you ever called a customer support hotline only to wait and wait (dare I say…and wait) on hold before being transferred across a tangled web of representatives?

By the time you are finally in contact with the person who can assist you, your frustration with this pinballing phone process outweighs any help you do receive.

This model of communication is completely opposite of how interaction with your benefits broker should be.

Your benefits broker should make assistance available and easily accessible.

The ideal benefits broker will be your point-of-contact representative, who you can quickly reach wherever and whenever you require help. If they aren’t available, they should have a team of experts who can assist you until they are.

6. Your benefits broker should offer additional resources

When searching for a benefits broker, having access to additional resources is always a plus.

Think of it like ordering a build-your-own pizza – you may simply want a basic cheese pizza, but having the option to add pepperoni, olives, or mushrooms certainly doesn’t hurt. Who knows? You might even change your mind.

You may only need your benefits broker to guide you to the right employee benefits plan and lend you ongoing support. But should they offer a wealth of helpful resources, you have the option to take advantage of these additional tools.

A few resources your benefits broker may offer include:

  • Compliance support
  • Harassment training
  • HR tools and assistance
  • Employee handbook services
  • COBRA administration

7. Your benefits broker should be proactive and client-focused

Let’s think back to why you are looking to partner with a benefits broker in the first place. So that you can competitively recruit and retain employees, by offering a high-quality employee benefits program.

In the same way that you are using your benefits program to attract top talent, your benefits broker is vying to provide services to your business.

This means that your needs should be the focus of their benefits administration approach.

Your ideal benefits broker will be proactive. They should not only guide you toward the best available employee benefits program, but should also continue to search for better future options.

Next steps to hiring the best benefits broker for your business

Changing employment trends have placed a much higher emphasis on the need for employers to offer better employee benefits programs. In order to effectively recruit and retain top talent, it is advantageous for employers to work collaboratively with a benefits broker.

But, the overwhelming number of available brokers, begs the question:

How do you choose the right benefits broker for your business?

In this article, you answered that very question! By examining the 7 most important services you should expect your benefits broker to provide, you have the insight you need to find your ideal broker.

Here at Combined, our benefits experts have been pairing businesses with benefits brokers for years. We want to make sure you partner with the right broker for your business.

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This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.