What Does a Benefits Broker Do?
A benefits broker helps employers build and manage their employee benefits strategies. As a key partner to their clients’ HR teams, brokers provide year-round guidance – from healthcare renewals season, to open enrollment, to day-to-day support.
A benefits broker is an employer’s partner in all things employee benefits. They add value to each client’s business by helping build, manage, and optimize their benefits strategy.
Though brokers are always front and center stage during benefits renewals, a truly remarkable broker is working for you behind the scenes year-round.
What does a benefits broker do for their clients?
Our experts identified 6 things an employee benefits broker does for their clients, so you know how to get the most out of your employee/broker relationship.
Leads the healthcare renewal process
When renewal season rolls around, employee benefits brokers build benefits plans and strategies to meet their client’s unique needs and goals.
Sometimes that means they make small tweaks to existing plans. Sometimes that means they recommend a whole new strategy.
The broker’s first step is understanding what their clients need from their benefits. They’ll usually do this by analyzing utilization data, employee benefits survey responses, and any other relevant data.
After crunching the numbers, your benefits broker can make recommendations based on the employer’s needs, goals, and budget. Still, that recommendation shouldn’t be the end of the process.
An exceptional broker also takes the time to make sure their clients feel confident about their strategy for the year ahead. They’ll answer questions, offer industry data, or even provide other plan options. Above all, a great broker won’t make their client feel rushed through the renewals process.
In short, renewals kick off the benefits lifecycle. This is when your broker should step up and act as your advocate.
Offers employee support through open enrollment
If you want your employees to use (and love) their benefits, you have to make sure they understand their plans first. And that education starts with open enrollment.
During open enrollment, brokers lead the charge to get employees up to speed on the plans available to them – so they can choose the right plan for their needs.
Knowledge is power. When employees know the ins and outs of their benefits plans, they can choose the right plan for their family’s needs and use their chosen plan with confidence throughout the year.
But when employees don’t understand their benefits, they usually end up choosing the wrong plans. In a 2021 study, 56% of participants felt “completely lost” when trying to make sense of their healthcare plan. And this leads to a lot of wasted money, both for employees and their employer.
By overseeing the open enrollment process, brokers also shed light on up-to-date legal requirements, ensuring their client can stay compliant in the process.
Provides year-round benefits assistance for employees
Renewal and open enrollment seasons are just the beginning; employees will use their benefits all year. And when they use those benefits, they sometimes have questions.
When your employees have questions about their benefits, your broker should have the answers. Ideally, they should offer a contact or resource to answer questions and solve problems whenever they arise.
For instance, if your employees run into a claims issue, or are hit with a surprise medical bill, your broker should be on hand to help resolve the issue.
Ensures their clients stay compliant
Staying compliant is a big deal. Miss a deadline or neglect to send the correct info and your employer could be hit with a hefty fee. A benefits broker should act as a safeguard for employers to ensure that compliance failure never happens.
Brokers should keep their clients up-to-date on deadlines and standards, informing them of any new laws and giving instructions on how to comply. Brokers can also keep clients on track using tools such as automated filing systems, digital compliance calendars, and other useful resources to assist with compliance.
Collaborates with HR on year-round benefits administration
A broker should be a close partner to the HR team. An excellent broker maintains a collaborative relationship with their clients’ HR teams year-round. This close relationship is invaluable – when members of HR have a problem, they should know they can turn to their broker for answers.
When a broker works in collaboration with the HR team, they regularly take benefits-related work off their plate. As unofficial members of the HR team, they put extra thought and care into making the HR team’s jobs easier.
Choosing the right broker
A broker plays a huge role in an employer’s benefits success. Brokers, like the employers they serve, are not one-size-fits-all. The right broker for a large corporation may not be the right broker for a growing midsize business.
When choosing a new employee benefits broker, it's important to consider company size, headquarters, benefits budget, openness to alternative funding sources, and the size and force of the HR team.
Whether working with a traditional or next-gen broker, employers have their choice of thousands of skilled benefits brokers. While there are brokers all over the country doing excellent work, it is an elite few that truly go above and beyond.
Ready to be matched with the right benefits broker for you? Chat with our team for a free consultation.