Needs of Their Clients

How Benefits Brokers Meet the Needs of Their Clients

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As I sit writing this post, companies all over the country are working with their benefits brokers in anticipation of open enrollment. It is November 1, and open enrollment for most companies will begin within the next few weeks. At the heart of this chaotic time of year are brokers who work tirelessly to make sure employers and their workers are taken care of.

What is a benefits broker, exactly? Moreover, how do brokers meet their clients’ needs? It is all a mystery to those of us who don’t know anything about employee benefits. But to insiders, like Dallas-based BenefitMall, it’s just another day at the office.

Three Types of Brokers

BenefitMall says there are three types of benefit brokers. The first type is the broker bound to a single insurance carrier. That carrier’s products are the only ones the broker can offer and service. Such exclusive brokers are not the norm. They are the exception to the rule.

Next up are brokers who enjoy some level of independence though they are still limited to representing those companies they contract with. Representing fewer than half a dozen is not uncommon.

Finally, you have the fully independent broker willing to represent any carrier with products worth offering. Some of them operate completely independently while others work through a general agency like BenefitMall.

Working through a general agency gives brokers access to the largest volume of carriers and products. It generally gives brokers access to technology, training, and a support staff that is ready and willing to help whenever called upon.

Shop, Compare, and Present

Regardless of the business model of broker works under, their job is basically to shop, compare, and present benefits packages to employers. A broker might sit down with a brand-new client to go over the client’s business model and workforce. Then they go off and begin researching the most appropriate benefits.

The broker compares products from different carriers in hopes of getting the most from every dollar spent. They then present options to the client. They help the client set up its benefits package and open enrollment to employees.

Those are the basics in a nutshell. Obviously, this is an oversimplification of what benefits brokers do. But it illustrates the point well enough. A benefits broker’s main task is to match insurance products and voluntary benefits with the needs of their clients. Brokers are ultimately paid through insurance carrier commissions.

Don’t Forget Open Enrollment

Brokers service existing clients a little bit differently. The big thing for existing clients is the annual open enrollment period. This is when employees have an opportunity to modify existing benefits and add new ones to their plans. Open enrollment generally takes place at the end of the year, though that’s not a requirement.

Facilitating a smooth open enrollment period requires that brokers prepare well in advance. So once again, they are shopping and comparing plans over the summer months. They are presenting their clients with as many options as they can so that decisions can be made well in advance of open enrollment.

Savvy brokers also take this time to educate their clients about new benefits, changes in the law, and anything else that might affect future decisions. The brokers effectively become a one-stop source of benefit information so that their clients do not have to go anywhere else to get answers to their questions.

Benefits brokers do a lot for their clients. Likewise, general agencies and carriers do a lot for brokers. When everything falls into place, employees have access to suitable benefits packages that meet their needs.

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