Employee benefits brokers are more than just insurance agents. They are trained professionals charged with the task of researching and presenting a full range of benefit options that their clients can offer to workers. They do everything from pricing products to facilitating enrollment and helping employees manage their plans.
A lot goes into being a successful broker. So much so, that BenefitMall encourages its brokers to strive to always be ‘full-service brokers’ in the sense that they become the only source their clients look to for benefits and related services. As a general agency connecting brokers with more than a hundred carriers, BenefitMall recommends the following five best practices for brokers and their agents:
1. Promote Benefits Workers Will Use
Employee benefits are designed to do something for workers. That’s why they are called benefits. As such, brokers should always promote those benefits workers will actually use. There is no point in adding benefits they won’t use to a company’s basket.
This particular practice requires some research. It requires understanding a company’s workforce. Brokers need to grasp what employees want, what they need, and what will have the greatest financial impact on them. All these things contribute to the likelihood of the chosen benefits being used.
2. Look at Base Needs First
Employers and employees alike have budgets. When budgets are tight, it is not wise to spend on extras at the expense of basic needs. This dictates that brokers look at a company’s base needs first. What are the needs of the largest number of employees in the workforce? Those are the things to start with. If you can add more benefits on top, great. But if not, base needs should be met first.
3. Always Consider Affordability
There is a standard rule in the sales game to not quote your own budget. Instead, you start at the top end and work down from there. It might be an advisable strategy in most types of sales, but it’s wholly inapplicable to employee benefits. Rather, brokers should always consider affordability. It is the sticking point for so many employers.
The fact is that employee benefits cost money. Every penny a company puts into its benefits plan is money that cannot be invested in the company or paid out in higher wages and bonuses. Furthermore, ever increasing health insurance premiums are making it tougher to justify non-medical options. Brokers need to remember that.
4. Maintain Free and Open Communication
Employee benefits are complicated enough on their own. Brokers do not need to make things worse by being poor communicators. On the contrary, brokers should go out of their way to always maintain free and open communication. That means being available to answer questions. It means responding to inquiries quickly. It means always being honest and transparent.
5. Stay Abreast of the Law
Laws and regulations often dictate how employee benefits packages can be put together. Unfortunately, consistency is not a strong point among the states. California’s requirements differ from New York’s. Florida’s rules are not the same as Utah’s. On top of that, there are federal rules that need to be followed. Brokers cannot afford to run afoul of the law. They need to cross all their T’s and dot all their I’s.
Employee benefits are complicated. But when brokers institute common best practices, they do a better job of serving their clients. That is good for employers, their employees, and the brokers themselves. If you are a benefits broker, are you following industry best practices? If not, you really should be. What’s holding you back?