To Change or Not to Change?
You may be enjoying a level of comfort with your current broker. You don’t bother him. He doesn’t bother you. But is this really the best arrangement or just the easiest thing for you? How can you be sure that your broker is doing the right thing for your business and you? Is it time for you to make a change and use another broker?
Here’s a checklist of questions to help you decide whether or not to change brokers:
☐ 1. What is my relationship with my broker?
Do you only hear from your broker when it’s time to sign up for additional benefits or when it’s time to renew? Your broker should be contacting you regularly to keep up with any changes in your business or to reassure you that you are in compliance with new regulations. Or, does your broker call to ask: How are you doing? How is your Benefits Package working for you and your employees? Is there anything else I can do for you?
☐ 2. Am I getting responsive and timely service?
What’s your broker’s track record in regard to responses to claims? Has the broker been there to see each claim through? If your broker is handling claims efficiently, most likely you haven’t been bothered by complaints and “loose ends.”
☐ 3. Do I have the best products and services from my broker, and at the best prices?
There’s more to a broker’s role than providing a Benefits Package at the best price. Your broker should be identifying the best package at the best price—not just the least expensive coverage. Your broker should also be advising you about ways to improve your risk management practices through your package and in your workplace.
☐ 4. Does my broker know my organization and our unique needs?
Your broker should also be available as a consultant who understands your organization. An effective broker works with you by providing smart solutions to your current needs and by anticipating your future ones. Is your broker available to listen to your concerns and guide you to plan for new employees?
☐ 5. Are my renewals on-time and on-target? Is my company in compliance?
Renewal is a process and a strategy, not just a rubber stamp. A responsible broker will allow sufficient time before the renewal dates (at least 90 days) to review the current plan, make suggestions for the upcoming year, anticipate changes in health laws and regulations, and set an agenda for additional reviews.
☐ 6. Is my broker lightening my workload or adding to it?
Consider the administrative burden and costs of your Benefits Package—does the technology provided by your broker make it “faster and easier” to handle or does it just cause more paperwork? Is there some aspect of the process your broker can take over Does your broker save you time and money by managing employee education and benefits materials?
☐ 7. Does my broker communicate with me?
Does your broker keep you informed about any new developments in the industry that may affect you or your coverage?
☐ 8. Is my broker available with timely responses?
When you have questions, you want responsible answers, and you usually want them “now.” Does your broker get back to you in a reasonable amount of time? Or if your broker is not available, can you rely on a knowledgeable backup team?
☐ 9. Would changing my broker be “pennywise and pound foolish”?
One would think that the first question to ask is: Can I save some costs by changing Have you asked your broker about ideas for decreasing costs without increasing risk? While changing brokers may seem an easy way to save some expenses, quite often making the change is not worth the money you may save. There is no way to measure the value of a long-term relationship with a broker who knows you, who provides support, and who offers smart advice. Rather than jumping to another broker, you should talk to your current broker about cost containment.
☐ 10. Do I need to change brokers to make some of these changes?
Making changes does not necessarily mean changing brokers. By going through this checklist, you may have identified some ideas about improving the interaction with your broker. Why not make a call to your broker as you become the agent of change?