In the ranking of terrible and underhanded people, the two fighting for the top spots are generally the used car salesman and the insurance guy. Your “list of people I’ve been burned by” is most likely an iteration of the following: cable company, high school math teacher, ex-lover, and insurance guy. While there may be no hope for the cable company or the ex-lover, there just might be someone out there to redeem your well-deserved ill-feelings in the world of insurance brokers.
Let’s address a few of the dirty thoughts we have all most likely had:
“Why do I need a broker anyways? If I work directly with the carriers, I get a better deal.”
Are you confident that you are getting the best deal from the insurance carrier? When was the last time you refused to go to Wal-Mart because you could get a better deal on Band-Aids from Johnson & Johnson? Buying power and pressure (from a consultant) hold strong influence when underwriters are determining your premium.
“Brokers just take commissions that drive up my premiums.”
If uncomfortable with commissions, ask a consultant to work on a contingency basis. A consultant’s job is to aide in cost mitigation, so let them have some skin in the game. Is it worth $20,000 for a quality consultant to find $100,000 in ongoing company savings without reducing benefits?
“I’ve used the same broker for 30 years…I know I’m getting the best deal.”
What harm is there in allowing a professional consultant review your existing services, rates, and plan designs? Worst case scenario, your company validates its current position and your hero status.
And by the way…does that consultant bring a team approach? The days of the “one-man-shops” are soon to be over. The firms that give you access to their in-house attorneys, wellness coordinators, HR coordinators, financial analysts, etc… are the firms you may want to consider as your next consultant. And those services should come with the consulting relationship…not as a la carte fees.
“I don’t want my 13% increase every year and a plate of cookies to thank me for your 13% raise.”
– Mr. Employer.
New strategies are a must and they should include unique cost saving (not cost shifting) solutions for both the employer and the employees. For example, if your consultant is not discussing the possible use of the public/private exchanges, it may be because it’s not in his best interest…wait…should it be the other way around?
We all know that the 4-9 hour window we have to wait for the cable guy to show up at our house will never change, but there is hope for a worthy consultant. Ask the right questions. Set high expectations. Choose wisely—not all consultants are created equal. The world around us is changing…maybe your consultant should be too.