What Employee Benefit Plan Sponsors Want from Their Brokers

July 5, 2024
Most employers regard their insurance brokers as trusted advisors

Most employers regard their insurance brokers as trusted advisors much in the way they do their accountants and attorneys. They also have clear expectations of their brokers in terms of the advice they give, products they offer, and ability to protect their interests as well as their employees’. A survey conducted by DirectPath found that 79 percent of brokers were focused on providing superior customer service and relationships and that 44 percent were adding new, innovative services to meet market demands. Still, not all plan sponsors are receiving everything they need from their brokers.

How Brokers Meet Plan Sponsors’ Needs

Plan sponsors expect their brokers to provide a personalized service that specifically meets their organization’s and its employees’ needs. For example, if they are self-insured, they require a strong medical stop loss solution. Or perhaps their employee workforce is multi-generational and requires a wider selection of voluntary benefits so that each employee’s life stage needs can be met. Many plan sponsors want advice regarding how best to stay in compliance with changing employee benefits regulations, and referrals to resources such as third-party administrators (TPAs) to help with this function. Above all they want to know that their broker serves as a strong advocate and intermediary when working on their behalf with insurance carriers and other benefit providers. For plan sponsors this equates to working with a network of solution providers to recommend products and services with the best available features and pricing structures. It means being able to work out solutions that offer the greatest risk protection. Additionally, they want to be supported in their employee relations by a broker who offers product educational materials and information available online and through mobile apps that make it convenient for their employees to gain valuable information that helps them make the right purchasing decisions.

Broker Red Flags

Just as plan sponsors know what they expect from their brokers, they also have become more attuned to what behaviors might reflect a poor performing broker. Here are some red flags that should have plan sponsors seeking new broker relationships:

  • Failure to communicate regularly and non-responsive to a client’s requests.
  • Lack of transparency or failure to send bills for insurance premiums which could indicate a dishonest presentation of a policy’s actual costs. When bills are provided, the costs are all rounded up numbers (i.e., $6,000; $12,000; $20,000) rather than $5,731.48 or $11,265.82 which are more representative of insurance bills.
  • Not going over an insurance policy to explain what is covered and the related costs or providing copies of policies.

Proactive, Responsive and Up to Date on Benefit Market Trends

Plan sponsors who have built strong relationships with brokers who show initiative and a real commitment in meeting their needs are brokers to retain. These same high-quality professionals also remain informed about the latest market trends relating to evolving regulations, new products and services, and employee surveys on what benefits, insurance and voluntary benefit solutions are most important to them, and where they need additional education in order to make the right buying decisions.