One of the awesome things we do at Sherpaa is help companies get the perfect insurance plans for their company— one that meets the needs of their employees and one that saves the company and employees money. We do this by working with a very curated group of brokers. A great health insurance broker can be one of the best friends a business owner could ever have. They will look out for the best interests of your company, while providing you guidance as well as compliance through the difficult terrain in the health care industry. But how do you know how to select a great one? There are a few key things to consider:
- Determine exactly what sort of support you want from your broker. Smaller businesses without an HR department may require more support than larger companies. Before selecting a broker, it’s good to know exactly what your needs are.
- Reputation is everything. Therefore, a great place to start is to ask for recommendations from companies that are similar to yours in both size, location, and demographic. Make sure to ask for references, licenses and registrations from all potential brokers. You can also do your own due diligence by checking their disciplinary record through your state’s insurance commissioner’s consumer hotline. In New York, that number is 800-342-3736.
- Ask all potential brokers for specific examples of how he/she has helped businesses similar to yours. It’s important that you fully understand exactly what they can bring to the table.
- Find out what plans the broker is qualified to sell. Not all brokers are able to sell all types of plans. Be sure that understand exactly what the broker is able to do, and ensure that it meets the needs of your company
- Ask whether you will have a dedicated account manager who will handle your day to day concerns. Many brokers simply don’t have the time to offer this level of service, and that may be a consideration for you. If the broker is able to provide you with a dedicated account manager, be sure to ask how many other businesses the manager is servicing so you can understand the level of attention you might receive.
- Ask what hours the broker (and, if applicable, the account manager) works. It’s important that they are available for you when you are going to need assistance. For example, we have seen some brokers who close shop at 4pm. If your end of day isn’t until 7, that may be a concern.
- Ask how renewals are handled. Some brokers wait until less than 10 days prior to renewal to begin the process. This can leave you with no choices, and a potentially sky high premium increase. Find out the exact timelines for when this is handled.
- Premium increases. Try to get a sense, with specific examples, of what the brokers’ current clients have experienced in terms of premium increases year to year. This helps not only with your own financial forecasting, but also allows you to get a sense of the type of relationship the broker has with the insurance carriers.
- Keep in mind that brokers get paid on commission. This commission comes either entirely from an insurance company, or as a split between you and the insurance company. It’s important to keep your eyes wide open on this one. If the broker is getting paid from the insurance company (even in part), whose best interests will he/she really have in mind?
- Is your broker keeping you compliant? With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the list of compliances that a company must have has become quite large. A great broker will help you not only navigate what you need to know, but handle the compliance for you. It’s important to ask how involved they will become in this matter.
If your selected broker is meeting all of the requirements above, congrats…you have a great broker. However, if the broker is not or has not met even one of these requirements, it’s time to search for someone new. Health Insurance is the second largest expense a company has after payroll, which means it is too important to leave in the hands of someone doing less than excellent work. We’ve already done the work for you here at Sherpaa. The brokers we work with are amazing.