Shopping for Insurance? There's a List for That!

Your Insurance Shopping Checklist

Managing a successful business means staying ahead of the pitfalls of risk inherent to all business operations. A holistic risk management approach is comprised of many moving parts, and selecting the right insurance is crucial to any risk mitigation strategy. Insurance is an investment that protects organizations’ long-term financial health, and some types of insurance are even required by law.

With so many types of insurance, regulations, and carriers to navigate, the prospect of picking the right insurance might be an overwhelming process. Considering how carriers are currently limiting capacity, decreasing their appetite for risk, and increasing underwriting scrutiny while offering less favorable terms for coverage at a higher premium cost as a response to unpredictable loss patterns sustained over years, the placement and purchase of insurance is more challenging now than it has ever been.

Though you might not be able to foresee every issue that may impact your business or the fluctuations of the insurance market, here are some factors you should consider when you’re weighing your coverage options. 

  • What types of insurance policies do I need?
    Your industry, location, exposure to risk, and many more factors determine the types of insurance you’ll need to protect your business.
  • Which insurance is legally required for you to have?
    State, industry, clients, landlords, and lenders may require you to purchase certain types of coverage.
  • Are there risks specific to your industry?
    Different industries deal with different risks, and if you understand these risks, you can purchase the right insurance safeguard against them.
  • How do you determine the right premium limits and deductible?
    Though it might be tempting to spend as little as possible on insurance, this isn’t necessarily the wisest approach because lawsuits and settlements could be financially devastating to your business. When it comes to choosing a deductible, be sure you’ll be able to pay the amount if a claim arises.
  • When is the last time you assessed the coverage you have?
    Regularly taking stock of your insurance portfolio is the best way to make sure you’re getting the most favorable terms for coverage and that your coverage evolves with your business as it changes.
  • Which factors impact your insurance cost?
    Beyond baseline risks associated with operating any business that are out of your control, knowing which risk factors are within your control can help keep your premiums down.

So, How Does a Broker Fit Into This Process?

Operating an organization and becoming an expert in your industry is enough work as is, without factoring insurance in the picture. Buying insurance for a business isn’t like going to the store to get a new change of clothes. Finding and purchasing the right insurance for your company’s unique risk fingerprint requires expertise, and without the right experience, it’s easy to make mistakes.

Like with most major life purchases, when you’re in the market for insurance, you should partner with someone who has proven experience navigating the ins and outs of both insurance and your industry. Working with the right broker can be the difference between you being sufficiently covered after a loss, or being stuck with an exorbitant bill for damages. Brokers have a fiduciary responsibility to provide the best recommendations to protect your assets in the short and long term. The right broker will advocate on your behalf and act in your best interest without you having to ask.

Here are some questions you should ask prospective brokers to make sure that your company selects the best broker for its needs.

Cost Effectiveness

You’ll want to ask questions that will let you know what the broker will do to make your insurance program cost effective without compromising the coverage your business needs to protect itself from risks.

  • Do you review and analyze existing coverage?
  • How do you determine what type of insurance I need?
  • What does your risk assessment process entail?
  • How will you structure my company’s program?
  • Do you have incentive-based options for your fees?
  • What do you do to market and present the company and its risk to carriers?
  • How proactive are you with marketing your clients to carriers?

Client Service

If you work with a broker, you want to make sure they’re responsive and provide the level of support you need if you have questions or a claim arises.

  • Which team will service my account?
  • Will I work with the same, top-tier team for the duration of our relationship?
  • Will a team be dedicated to servicing my account?
  • What is your team’s experience?
  • What does your submission process entail?
  • How will you support us during the renewal process?
  • What do you do to support clients in the event of a loss?
  • Do you offer claim reviews once a claim has closed?
  • How accessible is your team via phone and email?
  • How do you handle transitions between carriers?
  • Can you provide references?
  • What additional services do you provide?

Relationships

From relationships with carriers or global broker networks, you’ll want to see if your broker has the connections and relationships to best manage your risk whether it’s on a local level or an international scale.

  • What do your relationships with carriers look like on a local scale?
  • Do you have a global footprint and access to overseas brokers for international risks? (if applicable)

Industry Expertise

The appropriate placement of policies varies from industry to industry. After all, the risks of schools, manufacturers, and restaurants vary quite a bit. You’ll want to work with a team that not only knows insurance, but also understands the intricacies of your industry.

  • Do you have a team specialized in my industry?
  • How long have you worked with clients in this industry?
  • Can you identify key exposures this organization faces?
  • Can you provide specific examples of how you’ve advocated for clients in this industry?
  • How well do you know this industry, and how would you apply that knowledge to mitigate my risk?
  • Do you have specialists who can help my company develop training programs to minimize risk?
  • Can you speak to other specialized experience you have related to this industry?

If your company is in the market for insurance, make sure you partner with a reputable broker that doesn’t just price shop, but rather looks at your risk in its totality and finds ways to curtail it, beyond solely purchasing insurance.

Our Commercial Risk specialists take the time to understand every client’s unique needs and provide practical steps that help them build and maintain holistic risk management programs. Additionally, we have experts across many industries with decades of experience under their belts who understand the nuances of risk for specialized industries and come to you with credibility and connections.

Connect with us today to learn more about all the ways we advocate for our clients.

DISCLAIMER

 

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and was generated from information provided to BKS from the client and/or third-party sources. Therefore, BKS makes no warranty or representation(s) as to the accuracy or appropriateness of the data and/or the analysis herein. This information is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your tax, legal and accounting advisors for those services.

2023’s Must-Have Employer’s Checklist for Open Enrollment

It’s almost that time of year again: open enrollment season.

Whether your company conducts open enrollment for health insurance benefits in September or December, now’s the time to start planning for a stress-free experience for both you and your employees.

For 2023, rising inflation is spurring a number of changes that you’ll likely have to deal with or consider, and you’ll have to communicate with employees about it. Potential changes include:

  • Increased contribution limits for health savings accounts
  • Higher minimum deductibles for high deductible health plans (HDHP)
  • Higher maximum amounts for out-of-pocket expenses for HDDPs

So where should you start? How can you stay on track? What can you do to ensure a complete and successful process? Experts suggest several practical steps to help you manage your timeline for planning and implementing your open enrollment process.

Use the following multi-point checklist as a guide:

business team working

PRE-PLANNING PHASE

Reflect on last year’s open enrollment campaign. Understand what went right, what could have gone better and, which, if any, process improvements you would like to make this year.

Review overall company goals with leadership for coming year. Confirm (or adjust) your benefits strategy to align with it.

Determine overall changes that may impact your 2023 benefits budget. This includes major shifts in your workforce and possible mergers and acquisitions, as well as new office locations that could impact or pose challenges for how you communicate key dates and activities or how you execute your open enrollment process this year.

PLANNING PHASE

 3+ MONTHS BEFORE YOUR OPEN ENROLLMENT DEADLINE

Survey various levels of your organization. Given that benefits are playing a very significant role in attracting and retaining talent, you may want to find out how satisfied employees are with your current healthcare options. Include questions that can probe for overall satisfaction with your offerings, carriers, and provider networks.

Analyze survey results and decide on action plan for addressing feedback.

­­Collect and compare benefits data from similar companies in your industry. Gauge your own company’s performance and look for potential opportunities to enhance your program.

Figure out how many employees are eligible for your benefits.

Coordinate, or work with your TPA to manage COBRA requirements for employees who experienced a qualifying event (e.g., job termination) during the year.

Communicate key dates for open enrollment with insurers and benefit providers so they can share information on their programs that you may need to pass on to your employees. Also, notify internal stakeholders, like payroll staff or finance department so they have ample time to prepare for their role in the process as well.

2+ MONTHS BEFORE

Evaluate health plans and renewal packages. Meet with your broker to review usage rates for current plans and discuss any new benefits you may want to offer such as telemedicine, fertility, FSA, and wellness programs. Compare details and pricing from your current carrier and other carriers on the market.

Review current HIPPAA, ACA, and other regulations so you can understand how any changes may impact benefit offerings to your employees.

Make 2023 benefits selections for your program.

2 MONTHS BEFORE

Work with your team to review the options prepared by you and your benefits broker and finalize selections. See what type of information and decision-making tools (e.g., info booklets, calculators, etc.) your broker can provide that can help employees during open enrollment.

Assign a main point of contact to handle any and all employee benefits questions during open enrollment.

Inform employees when your 2023 open enrollment period will begin. Include key dates for major activities they won’t want to miss, such as virtual events and onsite meetings.

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE

APPROXIMATELY 1+ MONTH BEFORE YOUR OPEN ENROLLMENT DEADLINE 

Roll out official employee communications program announcing the open enrollment period for 2023 benefits and share details. Use a variety of distribution channels, including emails, intranet, Teams, or Zoom to reach all employees.

As part of this effort: 

  • Update corporate calendar with important dates, events, and deadlines
  • Summarize changes to your existing plan options and update pricing
  • Announce any new offerings or programs
  • Remind employees that any life changes and health needs, such as major medical procedures, and dental work are variables they should consider when picking benefits
  • Provide descriptions and materials for plan options

Schedule temporary employees to help with added workload during open enrollment period. 

1 MONTH BEFORE

Begin sign up. Monitor activity with employees to ensure they elect or decline benefits before the deadline.

Communicate with employees about support hours, points of contact, and shared resources for getting answers to questions throughout the entire period.

Remind employees of due dates so they don’t forget to enroll.

Verify individual benefit selections, check for errors, and reach out to employees for corrections prior to submitting final forms.

2-3 WEEKS BEFORE

Submit approved selections along with the group application to benefit providers and health insurers.

Address any issues from your broker or benefits providers.

Follow up until everything is approved.

Managing your benefits strategy is pivotal in attracting and retaining talent in today’s competitive hiring market. Connect with our benefits team to learn how we can help you build the right program of offerings that differentiates you from the competition. Our team is here to provide the ongoing support and expert guidance you need to prepare for open enrollment.

Contact our Employee Benefits team.

business team working

DISCLAIMER

 

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and was generated from information provided to BKS from the client and/or third-party sources. Therefore, BKS makes no warranty or representation(s) as to the accuracy or appropriateness of the data and/or the analysis herein. This information is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your tax, legal and accounting advisors for those services.

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