Choosing an Agent or Broker for Group Health Insurance
Providing group health insurance is a big expense for a business, and these days, premiums are higher than they’ve ever been. That’s way it’s important to do the right research and get help from a qualified agent or broker to find the right plan you’re your business. The difference between an insurance agent and an insurance broker has become blurred. Some insurance agents are employees of direct-writer insurance companies, and other work independently with several different insurance companies. Agents that work for direct-writer insurance companies have obviously have an allegiance to that company and will be unable to provide quotes from competing companies. On the other hand, independent insurance agents have contracts with multiple insurers and can provide quote comparisons. Brokers, however, do not contract with specific insurance companies and can search the marketplace for the best deal no matter who is offering it. In the current insurance landscape, there is little difference between hiring an independent agent and a broker.
The first step to choosing an agent or a broker is deciding what coverage you want and researching the market to find out what the going rate is for that coverage. Make a list of all the health insurance coverage you want for your employees. Besides the basic hospitalization, physician fees, surgical fees, and major medical coverage, you have to consider if you want to include mental health insurance, rehabilitation, maternity coverage, drug treatment, domestic partner coverage, dental insurance, vision care, and prescription coverage among other things. The more benefits you add, the greater your premium will be. So, choose wisely.
Before meeting with any insurance agents or brokers, it pays to research the market for group health insurance in your area. You can get a preliminary rate quote online at a number of different websites. You will have to supply information about your business, your employees, and how much coverage you have decided to get. The quote you receive will not be binding, but you can use it as a guide for what your plan will cost. This will help you determine what you can afford before you sit down with an agent or broker. This strategy helps you evaluate the selling practices of agents you are considering.
Finding an agent isn’t hard, as there are many you can choose from. You don’t want to just pick any insurance agent, however. You want an agent that is familiar with your industry and group health insurance coverage as a whole. If the insurer that provides your business insurance provides group health insurance as many do, you should approach your current insurance agent for a quote. It is helpful to have all of your insurance needs handled by the same person, and often you can get a discount.
Look to your trade association and industry peers for recommendations of insurance brokers. Often your needs will be similar. Try to work with brokers who specialize in working with businesses the same size as yours, as they will be able to guide you towards the right levels of coverage. Don’t choose an agent or broker based on personality alone. You want to develop a rapport with your agent, but you also want work with someone who is qualified and experienced. Don’t be afraid to ask for references.