You’re looking for new small business employee benefits solutions. The right benefits package can play a huge role in attracting great talent to your team. It also serves as a motivator for your existing team members. After all, knowing they’re going to be rewarded for a job well done will ensure they are productive.
Perhaps your benefits package already includes bonuses and paid time off. But what about insurance? By offering health and dental insurance plans to your employees, you take care of two major issues that American workers have to consider.
That means insurance is one of the best benefits for small business owners to offer to their employees.
But that leaves you with a question: How do you find the right insurance policy to build into your benefits package?
The answer comes in the form of insurance brokers for small business. A good broker can help you zero in on the right policy for your company. They’ll also help you to integrate that policy into your small business benefits solutions.
You just need to know how to find a good employee benefits broker.
In this article, we share useful tips to help you find the best small business benefits brokers. But before we do, it’s worth knowing the role a broker will play for your company.
Business insurance brokers are intermediaries who work on your behalf to find suitable insurance plans for your company. Typically, these brokers will have plenty of contacts within the insurance industry, allowing them to find plans and deals that you may not be able to access independently.
Small business benefits brokers tend to specialize in certain areas of insurance. For example, some brokers focus on acquiring medical plans for small business teams, which can include healthcare and dental plans. Others may specialize in helping you to find property or liability insurance. Some brokers try to do it all, though this may mean they spread themselves a little too thin.
Whatever their specialty may be, the job is the same – help you find a good insurance program. Brokers leverage their networks and existing contacts to negotiate insurance plans on your behalf. But there is a catch. Most brokers receive commissions from the insurers they recommend. As such, you may find that your broker limits their search to certain insurers while ignoring others.
Even so, the independent advice and access to the wholesale market that brokers provide are huge advantages. Their knowledge can save your business time and money, allowing you to dedicate more of your resources to overseeing your team.
Though all small business benefits brokers offer the same type of service, you can’t guarantee that they all offer the same quality of service. Insurance is more than a business commodity. It’s vital for keeping your business running. If you end up with a plan that’s incompatible with your company’s needs, you may overspend and run into insurance claims issues. That’s why it’s so important to work with the right broker.
Good insurance brokers for small business are more like partners than providers. These tips help you to find the right broker for your needs.
There’s little point in talking to an insurance broker if you don’t have at least a basic idea of what your company needs. Starting with a review helps you to figure out what type of plan helps your company the most.
If you’re looking for insurance plans to offer as benefits to employees, you’ll likely start with healthcare. In this case, you need to figure out if you want to offer individual or group plans. It’s also worth thinking about how much you want to pay toward your employees’ premiums. Will you pay partially or fully? Is there a good balance to strike between how much you pay and how much your employees pay? What does a good healthcare plan need to offer to make it worthwhile for your people?
You don’t necessarily need to have the answers to these questions before you start talking to insurance brokers for small business. But having them in mind gives you a good foundation for the questions you’ll ask when you start meeting brokers.
It’s never a good idea to partner with the first insurance broker that you find. Ideally, you’ll talk to at least three so you can compare their services and find a broker that meets your needs from both cost and insurance perspectives.
For that, you can create a shortlist of brokers that you want to talk to.
Begin by speaking to any fellow business owners or managers who have the type of business insurance you’re looking for. Ask them about any brokers they used and the experiences they had. Direct recommendations from happy clients are always a better indication of a broker’s abilities than the marketing copy on the brokers’ websites.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t use the web when creating your shortlist.
Google searches help you identify some of the leading brokers in your area. A quick check of their reviews using social media and their Google Business page gives you some insight into whether clients are generally happy with their services.
Aim to have at least three brokers on your shortlist before you move on to the next tip. If you have more, that’s great! Having plenty of options raises the chances of finding the right insurance broker for your organization.
We mentioned earlier that insurance brokers for small business owners receive commissions from insurers. That means that most brokers work with selected carriers and tend to specialize in specific types of coverage.
Now that you have your list, it’s time to dig deeper into those areas. Speak to your shortlisted brokers about their carriers and coverage. Ideally, your broker will only offer insurance plans from A-rated carriers. You can check the ratings of insurance carriers using credit rating bureaus, with Standard and Poor’s being one of the most reliable.
For coverage, your goal is to confirm the broker can offer plans that are relevant to your needs. For example, a small business may not need international coverage, meaning brokers who specialize in those plans may be poor choices. Of course, a company operating across several international territories may want that type of plan rather than a national plan.
Small business benefits brokers are like partners to your company. And as partners, they need a working knowledge of your industry. That doesn’t mean they need to understand the industry inside and out. But they should be able to talk to you about the challenges faced in your sector and, crucially, what employees in your industry tend to look for in their benefits packages.
Brokers also have to be risk experts. Some insurance policies present more risk to certain industries than others. The broker should understand the types of insurance plans that aren’t suitable for your sector so they can point you in the direction of policies that are.
After following the previous tips, you should have spoken to several insurance brokers for small business. This means you’ve had the opportunity to assess how each broker communicates with you.
That’s crucial because you need a broker who’s equipped to help you quickly if you have to make any claims.
Brokers who delay communication or dodge questions during the early stages of your search aren’t suitable for your company. Those poor communication patterns will continue into the ongoing services they provide. You want your broker to respond quickly and be transparent. Analyze how each broker on your shortlist communicates and eliminate any that you’re not comfortable with.
We’ll preface this point by saying an inexperienced insurance broker may be capable of finding the right policy for your business. Expertise trumps experience in most cases.
But experience certainly helps.
Brokers who spent a long time in the industry understand the carriers they work with better. They also know what can go wrong with policies and have worked with a variety of business owners. This experience equips them with knowledge that newer brokers haven’t gained yet. It also means they may have connections that inexperienced small business benefits brokers don’t have.
Don’t automatically remove a broker from your list if they’re inexperienced. Instead, use that inexperience as a trigger to ask more in-depth questions about who the broker works with and what they know about your industry.
All insurance brokers for small business need to be registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The lack of a FINRA license suggests the broker operates illegally, which should immediately eliminate them from your shortlist.
The broker may also require licenses specific to the state they operate in. These vary depending on the state and the types of insurance the broker offers. Research these licenses and check each broker to ensure they meet all of their state’s regulatory requirements. Again, eliminate any who don’t meet their state’s licensing regulations.
We live in the digital age and good insurance brokers for small business need to adapt to that fact. Paper-based brokers fail to use technologies that can speed up the quoting and claims processes.
For example, consider all of the policy documents you’ll need to sign for your insurance package. Are they paper-based? Or, does the broker bind those documents digitally and allow you to sign them using a digital signature? Think about the Certificate of Insurance (COI) attached to your policy too. You need easy access to your COI so you can present it when requested. Having a digital COI means you receive the certificate quickly and always have it available. A paper certificate takes longer to reach you and might get lost.
Technological literacy ensures a broker can do their job faster. That’s particularly important when making urgent claims on a policy.
Your broker’s main job is to provide insurance plans for your company. Part of that job involves operating a smooth quoting policy that gives you access to the best insurance plans. To ensure smoothness, your broker has to ask the right questions so they understand your operation, its scope, and how the policy needs to fit in with the nuances of your business.
Unfortunately, some brokers don’t ask the right questions. Instead, they cover the basics and focus more on trying to get you to accept a quote.
To prevent that from happening, listen carefully to the questions insurance brokers for small business ask. Do those questions give the broker a solid understanding of your company and its requirements? Are you confident the broker could underwrite a policy based on the information they’ve collected? If you don’t feel like a broker has learned enough about your organization, you may not want to go with the quotes they provide.
When you ask yourself how to offer benefits as a small business, a good healthcare insurance plan should be at the top of your list. Providing healthcare coverage takes a huge weight off your employees’ shoulders. They don’t have to search for individual policies or deal with the more stringent criteria applied to personal insurance.
To ensure your company offers the best policy for its people and the business itself, you may need to work with a broker. The best brokers offer access to wholesale deals and providers you may not be able to access yourself. With the tips in this article, you know what to look for in a business insurance broker.
Now, it’s time to start your search.
At Taylor Benefits Insurance Agency, we specialize in helping businesses access group health insurance policies to build into their employee benefits plans. With over 25 years of experience and a wide network of insurance providers, we can help you find the best plan for your needs. If you’d like to learn more or are interested in receiving some quotes, call us at 800-903-6066.
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