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Season of Renewal
Important questions to ask your benefits advisor before inking a deal

Spring is often referred to as a season of renewal. When it comes to benefits plans, however, fall tends to be the season of renewals.

Yes, this is traditionally the time of year when many of those who sign the deals for workplace benefits plans will hear from new and existing suppliers alike. Each broker, advisor or consultant will come forward with offers in the form of different prices, plans or services.

But there are some important questions to ask anyone who wants your business:

1. When did you last hear from your existing benefits provider?

There is a big difference between a benefits "broker" who is only looking to close a deal, and a true benefits advisor who is committed to serving your business and protecting plan holders throughout the year. Ongoing discussions identify cost-saving strategies and other information that affects available coverage. They also build the relationships that will be valuable when filing a claim.

2. Did you receive personalized service when you needed it most?

Benefits plans are established to protect you and your employees when support is needed most. When a claim had to be filed, were you dealing with an impersonal call centre? A customer service centre representative may be able to fill out a form, but a personal contact will be better equipped to advocate on your behalf.

3. Is the caller making empty promises about massive rate cuts?

Beware of a benefits provider who promises to dramatically slash costs without studying your previous claim history. Promises like these are nothing more than a sales gimmick. Savings in the first year will quickly evaporate in the following year, once a few claims are introduced. In contrast, consider the way stable rates fit more seamlessly into business plans.

4. Are you paying for extra information?

Information is a powerful tool, but some consultants will only release important details for a fee. The request for something as simple as a renewal report could be accompanied by a charge.

5. Do they have a strategy to reduce costs?

Every workplace benefit has a price, but there are effective strategies which can help to keep the prices under control. An effective benefits advisor should be able to identify options such as a preferred pharmacy, which can reduce the strain on drug plans, or other tips and techniques which will help to create a sustainable plan.

6. Do they know when to go shopping?

A trusted benefits provider should be able to identify the best time to reach out to insurers in the search for a better deal. Do this too often and some companies could stop responding to the queries. Once that happens, the options might dwindle. Even if a better price seems to emerge, the benefits advisor should be able to identify the differences that will affect ongoing coverage.

7. Will this advisor secure the best rate?

Ask your benefits providers about the strategies they follow to ensure that insurance companies are quoting a fair rate. Those who are not tied to a specific benefits carrier or insurance company will be able to present you with the most options. At the Callery Group, we are committed to reaching out to every insurer in Canada.

8. Who is working behind the scenes?

Benefits providers are obliged to disclose all of their service providers. The size of that list can show the extent of available support. As a shareholder in the Benefits Alliance Group, for example, the Callery Group can access a long list of insurers and service providers such as preferred pharmacies, Employee Assistance Programs, and human resources experts.

It's like any other business. Relationships make the difference.

 Top Tips:

  • Look for an advisor who offers ongoing support rather than just calling at renewal time.
  • Beware of brokers who promise massive rate cuts without studying your past claims. Any savings in the first year will likely be lost once the plan is actually used.
  • Look for advisors who can tap into an array of partners to provide support services.
  • Ask your advisor about the best times to shop for a new insurance provider.

Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. All of the content herein is the sole property of the Callery Group, and may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system - in whole or in part - without the written permission of the Callery Group. Links to the originating article at www.callerygroup.com are permitted.

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