For many businesses, the thought of setting up or reviewing an employee benefits scheme is a daunting prospect. That’s why many will turn to an employee benefits and healthcare broker.
Receiving advice from an expert helps ensure your employee benefits provide the best possible support to staff and achieves maximum value for money.
But what exactly do they do? And where do they get their money from?
In this blog post, we expose the realities of how different brokers operate and at what cost, providing specific examples from how the Engage Health Group team helps its clients.
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How do employee benefits brokers differ?
Let’s start with a basic definition…
An insurance broker works on behalf of a business (or individual) to negotiate and purchase insurance. They will usually receive commission from the insurance provider as a reward for bringing business their way.
This definition holds true for employee benefits brokers too, except they can do more than just source a good deal on insurance. They may also have expertise in sourcing and advising on employee benefits platforms and other wellbeing initiatives as part of a wider corporate wellbeing strategy. Some brokers, like Engage, will also introduce schemes into the business, manage claims and be there to answer any ongoing queries.
Ideally, a broker will source quotes from across the market rather than be restricted to one or two providers. However, this is not always the case – some may have close relationships with preferred insurance companies which undermines their ability to provide impartial advice.
No formal qualifications are required to be an employee benefits broker. However, you can check to see if a broker is a member of the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (AMII). AMII membership proves that the broker is committed to the highest professional standards. Any good broker will also be authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Some brokers have a narrow field of expertise – for example, some just look after insurance schemes, while others can advise on a wider variety of benefits. Engage Health Group can advise on the full gamut of UK insurance products and corporate wellness strategies as well as international schemes for businesses with a global workforce.
Is a broker really necessary?
The broker is ultimately the conduit between business and insurer and/or service provider. Which begs the question: why would a business not go straight to the insurer? There are numerous reasons why utilising a broker is usually a better option.
A good broker will:
- Provide independent and expert advice
- Source superior deals at speed from across the market
- Reduce the administrative burden on HR
- Negotiate on behalf of the company
- Assist with implementing and introducing schemes into the business
- Help manage claims and any disputes that arise
- Advise on price hikes (should they occur)
- Review current benefit schemes and highlight more cost-effective alternatives
In theory, a HR team can gather quotes from across the market and do the heavy lifting themselves. However, it’s going to take a lot more time, plus finding like-for-like comparisons between insurance policies is practically impossible.
For example, a Group Health Insurance plan will be full of different exclusions and inclusions, terms and conditions, and special add-ons (think EAPs) – it’s never a straightforward comparison. The best value deal is not always the lowest priced option. However, a broker can do all the legwork for you with the added benefit of industry expertise.
Brokers too can differ in the level of service they offer. There are brokers whose business model is designed around the philosophy of turning over business quickly, picking up the finder’s fee and then moving onto the next client.
At Engage Health Group, our business model is built around establishing long-term mutually beneficial relationships.
How does a broker work?
While we can’t speak for the rest of the industry, we can explain how Engage Health Group helps HR teams.
It all begins with a free consultation. As a HR professional you’ll probably have all kinds of thoughts about how best to support your employees. Perhaps you’ve already got a scheme but are not sure if it’s providing value? Perhaps you’ve already lined up which insurance products or services you’d like to include – and just need help finding the best ones? Or perhaps you’ve got an overall objective but no agreed way of meeting it?
Whatever your situation, we’ll take you through all the possible options and how they relate to your business objectives – while remaining within budget.
You’ll no doubt have a list of questions and we’re happy to answer them all. But we’ll also have a few questions for you. A few of the details we’ll need include:
- Number of employees
- Demographics of workforce
- Results of workplace surveys – if previously performed
- Strategic objectives – related to retention, recruitment, productivity and wellness (if applicable)
- Details of current benefits schemes and policies
Based on what we learn we can lay out a clear way forward that best fits your requirements – an approach which achieves the best possible result for business and worker alike
Equipped with a clear understanding – and an agreed way forward – we can provide a range of quotes tailored to your business. Once again there is no charge. In fact, we never charge you for our services at any point.
Once you’re happy with the quote and package outlined, you can purchase it through us. This means even if we’re buying policies through different providers (on your behalf) – you only need to go through one point of contact – us!
Implementing and educating
We don’t just buy the insurance and leave you to it, we’ll also help implement the employee benefits scheme within your business. We’ll provide guidance which introduces staff to the new array of benefits they have access to.
Engage can even provide in-office presentations to ensure that everyone is keenly aware of the benefits they can now make use of. Furthermore, if you have any questions, we’re always on hand to help.
We’ll manage claims on your behalf. For example, if you need to make a Health Insurance claim, you can use Engage as the sole point of contact. If insurance providers are refusing to pay out on a claim, we can investigate in more detail – and if we think you’ve got a case, we’ll contest it on your behalf.
Renewals and price hikes
We’ll provide an annual review to ensure you’re still getting the best deal. If you’re not – and a price increase is on the cards – we can shift the policy to another provider offering a better deal. We’ll also help ascertain whether your insurance is still providing value, or whether budget would be better spent elsewhere.
How much does a broker’s services cost?
This will vary but if you’re working with Engage Health Group, it costs nothing. To understand how that’s possible, it’s worth explaining how the business model works.
Firstly, insurance can be purchased via two main routes: directly through the insurer or via an insurance broker.
If you go direct to the insurer, they will have a sales team handling all your queries and advising the customer on their options. However, if HR instead purchases the insurance policy via the broker – you are effectively bypassing their sales team, thereby reducing the manpower required of the insurer.
So, where a chunk of the insurance fee would usually go towards the work of the sales team, instead it is given to the broker. For the customer, the cost generally works out the same – although with the expertise of a broker, you’d hope to save money and/or gain greater value because of shrewd advice and industry know-how.
While Engage works in this way (charging the insurer, not the customer), we have worked with several customers who’ve previously paid out extortionate broker fees on top of the insurance mechanisms they’ve purchased. This really shouldn’t be the case.
Contact an employee benefits broker
The employee benefits and health insurance marketplace can be a confusing place for first time buyers and even those who have been there, done that and got the scars to prove it. But the Engage team are here to help!
At Engage Health Group, we go above and beyond to ensure that any healthcare scheme or employee benefit is the perfect fit for your business. We specialise in negotiating with insurance companies and finding the best quotes which aren’t publicly available, saving you and your HR teams the legwork, all free of charge.
Contact us at [email protected] or call +44 (0)1273 974419 for FREE no-obligation advice and support.