choosing a benefits broker

Choosing a Benefits Broker for Your Business

Choosing a Benefits Broker is like selecting a partner for your business. You want to find a Broker who will be fully invested in your company and its employees. They will act as an extension to your Human Resource function, so it is essential you feel comfortable with your decision and do your homework.

When you’re interviewing potential Brokers, it’s important to ask the right questions. We have outlined a list of questions below you should ask during the selection process.

What areas do you specialize in?

It goes without saying that benefits identification and selection can be a confusing and complicated process. As a business owner, you should look for someone who has demonstrated expertise in all areas of benefits administration, from healthcare to HSAs to dental insurance. They should be able to work with you and your employees to find the best, most cost-efficient insurance products.

How available are you when I have questions?

Most SMBs can’t afford to have a large HR department on staff.  That is why you need to have confidence your Benefits Broker can help fill that role. Look for a firm that is agile enough to respond to your business and employee needs quickly. No one likes to get trapped in a phone response center where questions are never answered. You need someone who will pick up the phone and follow-up with insurance carriers as needed.

Can you give examples of how you’ve helped companies with compliance?

Businesses are required to comply with federal and state regulations as outlined by ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act), including the bonding requirements and the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), among others. Your Benefits Broker should have a thorough understanding of these laws as well as the required reporting to the IRS and the Department of Labor. 

What cost-mitigating strategies have you used to keep employees healthcare costs in check?

Healthcare costs continue to rise. So, businesses should assess each Broker based on their ability to help maintain costs while providing a full menu of options to your employees. The Broker should be able to provide testimonials and case studies that demonstrate how they have helped other businesses in the past.

Can you give examples of how you’ve helped companies with compliance?

Businesses are required to comply with federal and state regulations as outlined by ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act), including the bonding requirements and the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), among others. Your Benefits Broker should have a thorough understanding of these laws as well as the required reporting to the IRS and the Department of Labor. 

What experience do you have with technology solutions?

In our age of interconnection, companies need access to technology tools to help them maintain and manage their benefits. They should review your current technology and make recommendations on what your business needs to integrate your systems.

What professional credentials do you have?

Benefits Brokers, as well as Benefits Consultants, must be licensed.  Often, they will earn additional professional certifications that must be maintained through continuing education coursework and credits.

What is your role during the enrollment period?

When looking at various broker options, ask them what support they provide during this period. You want to choose a broker who can come on-site if needed and review the benefits options that are available to employees. They should be available to help your employees make the best selection for their families.

What financial planning can you offer?

Not all Benefits Brokers are qualified to help you and your employees build a retirement plan. However, surveys show that participation in a company-sponsored 401K is a top-ranked benefit. To help streamline communications, reporting, and access, you should look for a Benefits Broker who is also a credentialed financial consultant.

Choosing the right Benefits Broker is not a complicated process if you know what to look for in terms of credentials and experience. Keep in mind, your Broker is an extension of your company, and they play an essential role in attracting and retaining quality employees.

At The Kirwan Companies, we pride ourselves on building long-term personal relationships and providing individual service that is tailored to meet our clients’ needs. For the past four decades, we have advised independent business owners on how to maximize and manage their personal and corporate investment and benefits programs. We hope you will consider giving The Kirwan Companies a call during your Benefits Broker review process. We are confident we can design and outstanding benefit and retirement plan for your business.

 

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