group health insurance

Tips for Acing the Group Health Insurance Renewal Process

Although your company’s group insurance renewal (health, life, dental, long-term disability and/or voluntary plans) takes place annually, it is a process you’ll want to prepare for throughout the year.

The right planning makes annual renewal more streamlined, and allows your organization to make adjustments and align with new company goals and employee needs. You can also make sure your offerings are in line with current trends to attract and retain talented workers.

The annual renewal date can take place at any time of the year, but it is most common on January 1 and June 1 for groups of 50 or more. Your broker or agent typically should send a reminder 60 to 90 days in advance. If you are an HR or business decision-maker, you may be in the midst of the initial review right now.

These guiding principles can help you manage the process as well as expectations, so you can craft the most ideal comprehensive employee benefits package.


1. Now is the time to reassess. 

Gathering feedback throughout the year on your existing benefits package will help determine changes for the following year. Surveys of your employees and management team provide feedback on current plans, show changes in demographics, and allow company members to express interest in additional benefits they would like to see. You can work with your insurance broker on pre-renewal analysis to review the current benefits offerings. They will give you ideas about how your benefits package can be enhanced.


2. Expect costs to go up. Every. Year. 

Like death and taxes, most businesses should count on an increase in the cost of group health insurance. Generally, this cost is linked to inflation, but it is also impacted by the introduction of new therapies and drugs. These costs will be passed on to you and your employees. A good broker will guide you through changes in the market, as well as the legal landscape, and work with you on how to reduce costs for your employees.


3. Introduce cost-mitigating strategies.

There are several ways to help offset rising benefits costs. You may want to add new plans or reduce the number of options to streamline the process. Offering HSAs is another popular option. As an employer, you can to contribute to your workers’ HSAs and increase their participation.


4. Consider trends and supplemental insurance options.

Employers can offer coverage for eye care and dentistry either through the plan, or on an individual opt-in basis. Keep in mind that your HSA participants can pay for these expenses with “pre-tax” funds. Your agent can also work with you on trends specific to your industry or employee demographics, so that your company has a competitive edge when it comes to recruiting good people. For example, training and tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment is common in the tech industry.


5. Automate your employee renewal process.

Many HR professionals are implementing paperless online enrollment and tech support platforms to ease administrative burden of the group health insurance renewals, while making the process easier for employees and helping the company to go green. This includes online tools to help employees choose plans and options based on their needs, and support documents and materials that house company policies and other HR resources. 


6. Educate employees.

Millennials and baby-boomers alike want to understand their options and the implications of their benefits decisions. Even if you have an electronic platform, it is a good idea to ask your insurance broker to hold on-sight information sessions with your workers. Whether employees are adding to their family or planning for a procedure, your broker should be able to offer guidance based on their future needs.


7. Assess your insurance broker.

Navigating the world of health insurance alone can be a daunting task. That is why so many businesses turn to an experienced insurance broker to help them build a portfolio of benefits. You should regularly review your benefits options, and you should do the same with your broker. If you find your broker is no longer a good fit for your company, it may be time for a change. Switching to a new broker is a very uncomplicated process and can be done any time throughout the year.

The Kirwan Companies has been advising companies for 40+ years to make the best possible group health insurance renewal choices. Offering healthcare benefits helps companies find and keep valued employees. Choosing the right mix of benefits is worth every minute of your investment – one that will pay dividends throughout the year.


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