Throughout my years as a benefits advisor I have come to learn that taking time to read the fine print is crucial to success. Our clients depend on our expertise to deliver the most cost effective plan for their unique business and workforce.
To do this we need to align the right partner or partners with the right client. When this connection is made, everyone across the board can be set for success.
However, you need to know your solutions providers, understand their business models and be aware of the fine print first. Here are four important points every broker should consider when delivering health insurance recommendations:
- Read and understand the contracts.
Question if a solutions partner doesn’t want to let you review the contract for the client beforehand. Some solutions partners have tight multi-year contracts and you, as a broker, need to know that going in. If not and that solution provider doesn’t end up being a good fit or the plan doesn’t match the company, your client could be locked in and getting out can get very expensive. Should this happen, you can begin negotiations on behalf of your clients, making sure they know this may not be easy to accomplish.
Hidden fees and clauses like this can harm the potential impact of your plan and can negatively affect your client’s confidence. They trust you to guide them through these issues and may even place blame or hold you responsible for missing these details, even if a partner drove the problem.
- Understand your partner’s goals.
Knowing how your partners usually operate and how they deviate will give you the ability to look for variations in their process. For example, if your partner usually offers three year contracts, but has agreed to one year, the agreement sent across could accidentally include a three year. This mistake is not always intentional, but it happens.
Many solutions providers prefer multi-year contracts for obvious reasons, but as a broker, you should know up front what terms would be best for your client. We have a partner who prefers three year agreements, but is willing to do a one year agreement with the right discussions. Having conversations like this and knowing what your partner is willing to do will help streamline what you offer to your clients jointly.
You need to be diligent with fine print to ensure the correct agreements, with the correct timelines are being signed.
- What we do is not easy.
Implementation is not easy. Unraveling a self-funded program when one of the solutions or partners is the wrong fit can be a challenging endeavor, especially if one of the solutions or partners is the wrong fit. You might have six or seven partners to bring any one program to life and often, we have specific milestones to reach in order to reach stop-loss to unlock reimbursements, so if you have to pull a partner part of the way through, it creates a lot of conflict.
Being meticulous with agreements up front can save you and your client a great deal of heartache and problems.
- Stay up to date on solution providers.
You need to be aware of how partners are evolving as well as your clients because the right partner three years ago might not be the right partner today. Companies get bought and employees change roles. Not all changes occur internally either, your clients program can be influenced from the demand of the current workforce.
The solutions that are good today may not be the best solutions tomorrow, so you have to stay aware and adapt to bring the best solutions to your clients.
Help guide your clients.
All clients are looking for the same thing — the best coverage at the most affordable cost. Yet the healthcare industry is complex and clients often find it overwhelming or difficult to understand. So they turn to us, to determine which partners and which plans best align with their needs.
To do this successfully, we must know what to expect from our solutions providers and the agreements they offer. Right down to the fine print.