A Publication of WTVP

One of the most important endeavors you will make to ensure the ongoing success of your business will be to find and develop a positive working relationship with an insurance broker. Undoubtedly, a good broker will save you and your company time and money; conversely, a bad broker is not a passive situation by any stretch of the imagination. A bad insurance broker can cost you time and money and open your company to liability.

A good broker will represent many different companies, understand your benefits, be capable of explaining all particulars of various plans and know how to get the answers to your questions. Be wary of insurance brokers who “also do health insurance,” “dabble in liability coverages” or work out of their basement. The laws and plans today are too complex to trust someone who is not a committed full-time professional in their industry. Your exposure otherwise is quite substantial.

But what makes a good broker great? What sets that broker apart from the rest? The broker’s philosophy should be to provide what the client expects and then some. Many employers wish to be intimately involved with the planning, level of benefits, claim situations and so forth that make up the daily machinations of their health plans. On the other hand, there are employers who just want to make their widgets, understand their costs and expect the broker to do whatever else is necessary for the smooth execution of a plan. A good broker takes the time to understand your business, your employees, your needs, your goals, your future, and most importantly—you.

What are the services that make a good broker great?

1. A great broker should represent all insurance carriers actively writing business in the region. He/she
should also have more than a reasonable amount of business with each carrier. This means they
know the people doing the underwriting, claims and administration. Also, when a problem occurs, the
broker should have the influence to get it fixed quickly.

2. He/she should be knowledgeable enough about various laws (HIPAA, COBRA, ERISA, FMLA) in order
to navigate your business through the various obstacles it naturally encounters. An exceptional
broker may even administrate for you.

3. The broker should understand partially self-funded plans, consumer- driven healthcare, HMO, PPO
and all the other various complexities of plans available to you. More importantly, they should be able
to immediately know which ones will work well for you.

4. He/she should provide continual education for you and your employees. Employees need to
understand the plan, how it works, what physicians to utilize and so on, before problems are met.
Willingness to meet with employees regularly is critical.

5. The broker should provide good communication to you and your employees whenever needed. A
good broker is accessible via all forms of communication (email, cell phone, voicemail) and should not
have an office phone system that is unnavigable. They should also return contacts within 24 hours.

6. He/she should have someone on staff who handles day-to-day issues for the employer. Moreover,
the broker should employ someone who handles claim issues for all employees. Let the broker’s staff
call the carriers—they have the backline numbers. You are not paying employees to hang in call
queues for hours on end.

7. A great broker has a highly-trained and motivated workforce in his/her office taking care of the day
to-day needs of the client. Your broker should not be the one fixing your employee’s claim issues.
His/her time should be spent doing other specialized tasks for clients.

How do you find a good broker? The best manner is word-of-mouth. Ask other business owners who they utilize and if are they happy with the level of service. Also, ask them if they receive the multitude of services listed above. Many employees who claim to be happy or satisfied with their broker do not know about many services an exceptional broker can offer. There are many people out there who sell insurance—the trick is finding one who knows what he/she is doing and is doing it well. IBI