Eight Reasons Small Businesses May Benefit from Working with an Insurance Broker
In this article published on June 16, 2016 in the Sacramento Business Journal, Sutter Health Plus Vice President of Strategic Sales and Marketing Monica Majors discusses eight reasons small-business owners may benefit from working with an insurance broker.
Small-business owners take on multiple roles in their companies out of necessity, but being a health plan expert doesn’t need to be one of them.
In order to maximize employee benefits, minimize costs and administrative work, and get help understanding the complexities of health care regulations, many small-business owners look to the expertise of a qualified health insurance broker.
“It’s a balancing act to help employers find options that fit their budget and are affordable for employees,” said independent broker Jim Maher of McGrew & Maher Insurance Services in Roseville, California.
A good independent broker can help employers manage health care costs, stay in compliance with changing health care regulations, and even educate the workforce. Because they represent multiple health plans, they can help business owners sort through the many available plans to find one that fits their unique needs.
Here are eight reasons small-business owners may benefit from working with an insurance broker:
1. There are no costs to the employer for going through an insurance broker. Broker commissions are paid directly by the health plan carriers.
2. Brokers represent multiple health plans and can find the best fit. Brokers typically have relationships with several health plans to give employers options.
3. They help clarify how plans work and what they cost. They can explain the true cost and value of a health plan beyond premiums and deductibles.
4. Brokers are knowledgeable in helping small businesses navigate changing state and federal regulations, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
5. It’s a service business, so client retention motivates brokers to keep customers satisfied. For example, Maher said his agency checks in with clients at least once a month to make sure they don’t have issues or questions, and meets with them in person at least once a year.
6. They may have their own service teams to directly handle employee questions or concerns and act as a liaison between the employee and the health plan.
7. They can help with employee education during enrollment periods, the employee onboarding process, and with writing benefits portions of the employee handbook. “We’re hands-on when there’s a new employee,” said Maher. “It takes all the pressure off the employer to explain benefits.”
8. Brokers can help employers choose which tools to use such as wellness surveys and pre-screening tests to help employers develop wellness programs.
Some additional things to consider when choosing a broker:
● Does the broker have a good reputation in the industry? Ask for referrals from companies that are of a similar size or industry. Check references, licenses and regulations. Examine the broker’s disciplinary record by calling the California Insurance Commissioner’s licensing hotline: 1-800-967-9331.
● Is the broker a service-oriented professional? Don’t assume that every brokerage firm offers the same type or quality of service. If an employer is working with a smaller firm, they should know what level of service and expertise to expect.
● Is the broker knowledgeable about the kind of benefits the employer needs? Is a particular type of product not suggested because it’s not right for the business, or because the broker doesn’t offer it?
● Will you have a dedicated account manager? Employers should find out if they will work with a regular contact.
Working with a broker can help employers avoid having to become experts in yet another aspect of running a small business. Tapping into the knowledge base of a broker is an efficient and effective way to purchase health care coverage that will serve you and your employees well.