With the emergence of new technologies like robo-advisors and direct sales tools, it’s easier than ever before for employers to dive right into providing group benefits for their employees. But is that a good thing?
Well, yes – and no. These new technologies make accessing and signing up for benefits easy, but that’s where the relationship ends. These solutions don’t provide service by offering advice or answering questions, and they’re not always working in your best interests – but there is someone that is: a group Insurance Advisor.
The Value of a Group Insurance Advisor
The world of employee benefits is complex. It involves government legislation and taxation, liability, Human Resources (HR) and employee issues, complex plan designs, legal contracts… We could go on, but you get the idea. Employers can’t be expected to know all of this (we’re betting you have enough on your plate), and that’s where an Advisor steps in.
A group Insurance Advisor is a licensed, knowledgeable expert in their field who acts as an advocate for you and your organization’s benefits plan. They live and breathe group benefits, so they’re prepared to deal with the intricacies of choosing, implementing and maintaining a stable employee benefits plan. Advisors are covered under their Errors and Ommissions (E&O) Insurance, which protects both the Advisors and the employers they work with, and isn’t a safeguard you’ll get through a robo-advisor or going direct.
Advisors also have existing relationships with carriers and insurers and are capable of negotiating on your behalf and bringing their expert skills to bear through advice and representation. Remember, an independent group Insurance Advisor works for you, not the carrier, so they have your best interests at heart.
With the help of proactive insurers, Advisors can identify areas of opportunity or improvement in your benefits plan before they become major problems. We think Dave Patriarche, an independent group Insurance Advisor and President of Mainstay Insurance, said it best:
That’s not something a robo-advisor or a direct sale can give you. An Advisor is there every step of the way, not just to set you up with your plan.
Choosing a Group Insurance Advisor
There are a lot of Advisors out there (we work with over 1,000 across the country), but only one can represent your interests at a time. Who you choose is up to you, but we’ve been in the industry for over 20 years and we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a great Advisor.
Here’s what to look for:
- They’re focused on more than just the cost of the plan. Don’t get us wrong, cost is important, but many of the cheapest plans are heavily discounted for the first year, and rates often skyrocket at the time of the first renewal.
- They ask you about your benefits philosophy. Your benefits philosophy is the “why” behind your plan. You and your Advisor will want to get to the bottom of this before selecting a plan to be sure it’s the one that will work for you and your employees.
- They believe in long-term, sustainable plans. Sustainable plans are ones that can grow with the business and can maintain consistent coverage with minimal fluctuations in price, coverage or demographics.
- They communicate with you regularly. The Advisor you want in your corner is a proactive one. They’ll regularly check in even when it’s smooth sailing, and proactively reach out before things go south with a solution in mind.
- They respond in a timely manner. When you call them, they answer immediately or get back to you as soon as possible. If you send them an email, they respond quickly. Even if they don’t have the answer right away, they let you know they got your message and they’re on it.
- They take their time. In their meetings with you, they’ll go through everything, take the time to answer your questions, and present all the options so that the two of you can make an informed decision.
- They care. This one is hard to measure as it’s more of a feeling, but a good Advisor will genuinely care about you, your employees, and your organization. They’ll value making sure you and your employees are taken care of with the right coverage over a paycheck.
There are other important qualities in an Advisor – knowledgeable, friendly, approachable – but these are all pieces of the above. If an Advisor does all of that, hold on to them!
Need help finding an Advisor? We work with over 1,000 licensed group Insurance Advisors across the country. Let us know and we’d be happy to connect you with one who can bring you everything above and more!