Many companies stay with the same employee benefits broker just because they are afraid that switching will be too difficult. They imagine that changing benefits brokers will entail a lot of paperwork, direct communication with insurance carriers, and major changes to their insurance plans and benefits package. The disruption caused by such a shift would certainly outweigh the advantages of switching to a new broker, at least in the short-term. So they stick with the broker they know rather than working with a broker that will best meet their needs long-term.
But the fact of the matter is that it really isn’t that hard to change benefits brokers. It doesn’t take a lot of time and doesn’t require major changes in your benefits package or internal processes. So there is no reason to stay with a broker you’re dissatisfied with because you are afraid of what changing might involve. In this article we’ll address some of the misconceptions that you might have about switching brokers and outline how easy and rewarding the process really can be. The key points which we will cover in this article are:
• You can keep your insurance carriers and plans
• You can switch any time throughout the year or phase of the renewal process
• If you want to change insurance plans or carriers, the process is quite easy with the right benefits broker
• Switching benefits brokers can produce serious results for your business
You Don’t Have to Switch Insurance Carriers or Change Benefits Packages
Despite what many people think, changing employee benefits brokers does not mean that you need to change your benefits package or insurance carriers. You simply need to notify your insurance carriers that the new benefits broker is representing you instead of the old broker. You do this by submitting a Broker of Record (BOR) form to the carriers, which enables the new broker to negotiate with the carriers on your behalf, monitor rates, and advise you on the best benefits package. To make things even easier, your benefits broker can handle the process of drafting and sending the BOR, you just need to sign it.
Now, you may wonder why you would switch employee benefits brokers if you’re just going to keep the same insurance plans. But your healthcare plan is only one part of the overall benefits picture. A good benefits broker will be able to work with you to optimize your benefits package or phase in a new one without disrupting your employees’ experience or internal processes. Plus, a great benefits broker can streamline and improve the benefits experience for you and your employees within the same plan structure. They can provide increased service and support, including employee education initiatives and enrollment or benefits administration software platforms. And they can also negotiate new, lower rates for the same plans at the next renewal.
There Are No Time Constraints on Switching Benefits Brokers
You don’t have to make the switch to a new employee benefits broker at a particular time of year or phase of the renewal process. You can submit the BOR at any time and since doing so won’t require that you change your benefits package, the timing for when to change benefits brokers doesn’t depend on whether or not you’re ready to change your benefits package. Your internal processes will not have to change, and your employees won’t notice any difference in their benefits experience.
This means that you can switch benefits brokers as soon as you have found the right partner for your business. That way the new broker will have access to the information they need to start advising you on your benefits strategy and optimizing your benefits package. You can work together to craft a better approach to benefits and phase in your new benefits initiatives while providing a seamless experience for your employees.
With the Right Benefits Broker Switching Insurance Plans Isn’t Difficult
While you do not have to change your benefits package when you switch benefits brokers, you can explore options for an improved benefits package to your employees at a lower cost to the company. This may sound daunting, but it’s really not very difficult or even that time consuming when you partner with a strategic-thinking, proactive benefits broker.
Don’t get us wrong, switching plans does require a slightly longer transition period, but it’s still not that complicated relative to renewing your existing plans. Plus, most of the work will be handled by your benefits broker.
The first thing that your new benefits broker will do is take a census of your employees to collect the information that they need to assemble your new benefits package. Then they will send out an RFP and collect proposals from different carriers to provide you with the best possible options to choose from. Or, if you have established carrier relationships and preferred plans, they will get an updated quote based on your specific needs and your employee data.
Once you and your broker select a carrier, it’s time to enroll your employees in their new insurance plans. Now, the words “open enrollment” might send most HR professionals running for the hills, but a good broker will actually make this process painless. Many benefits brokers will provide centralized platforms for employees to view and enroll in plans and for your HR team to store data to monitor compliance. And boutique benefits brokers will work directly with your employees to educate them about their new insurance options and the enrollment process in general.
At the end of the day, if you’ve picked a great benefits broker, your role in the transition to a new benefits package will be minimal.
Switching Benefits Brokers Can Reap Real Rewards for Your Business
Not only is switching brokers a lot easier than people expect, but it can also be seriously important to your business’ success. According to a Met Life survey, 76% of employers believe that brokers help them get the best possible prices on employee benefits, and nearly as many say that their brokers help them to stay compliant. If you don’t feel like your broker is doing enough to help minimize your costs, maintain compliance, and provide the best possible benefits for your employees, then switching is well worth the minimal inconvenience.
The fact of the matter is that benefits spend is a huge part of your overall budget and makes up 25-40% of most companies’ payroll. So it’s important to work with the right partner to minimize those expenses while maximizing the return-on-investment of the remaining expenses. For instance, a great benefits broker will reduce your benefits costs by strategically designing plans that are the right fit for your employee demographics and helping employees become better consumers of their healthcare. They can also reduce costs by introducing discount prescription drug plans, technological solutions like telemedicine and wellness programs that help prevent long-term expenses from lifestyle diseases.
More importantly, your benefits package is one of the greatest tools in your arsenal to attract, retain, and engage great talent that will help your business grow and succeed. According to an Aflac survey, 80% of employees believe that their benefits package influences their engagement in their jobs. In addition, most said that they were likely to accept a job with lower compensation and better benefits. Clearly, compelling benefits are essential to any effort to attract top talent as well as maximize employee productivity and retention.
Your new broker will be able to provide the best possible package for your employees by conducting third-party surveys to identify their needs and then crafting a benefits strategy to meet those needs. All while reducing costs by eliminating benefits that your employees don’t need or want.
Finally, if you pick the right benefits broker, they will see each of your employees as their clients, rather than just focusing on appeasing your company’s top executives. These benefits brokers will work on the individual employee level through seminars, Q&A sessions, and other forms of direct communication. This hands-on approach will help employees understand how to navigate the benefits package and make the most of the benefits offered. It will also impress upon employees the value of the benefits in order to maximize the impact that your benefits have on employee retention and engagement.
Changing employee benefits brokers may seem like a very daunting decision, but the actual process of making the switch once you have found the right benefits broker is surprisingly easy. Plus, with so much on the line when it comes to your employee benefits package, the minimal amount of effort required is well worth it. Because at the end of the day:
• You can keep your insurance carriers when you change your benefits broker
• You can change benefits brokers any time or phase of the benefits renewal process
• Switching insurance carriers is quite easy with the right benefits broker
• Your benefits broker is responsible for managing up to 40% of your payroll costs, so make sure you’re partnering with the right broker for the most cost-savings and best return on your benefits dollars invested
So switching brokers isn’t that difficult, but you do need to find the right partner. Want to make sure your current broker is serving your needs? We wrote a handy article that will show you how to evaluate your existing broker. Check it out right here.