Take time to reflect on what you learned in 2022
BY TOM AVERY
For most people, the new year is about looking forward. For insurance brokers, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief now that the madness of Q4 is done — and you can finally take that well-deserved rest.
Not so fast!
Before you leave 2022 behind, it’s important to take time to reflect on what you learned to prepare for success in the new year. How successful Q4 2023 is will depend on your work in the three other quarters leading up to open enrollment.
In the spirit of reflection, here are the top mistakes brokers made last year that might have lost them clients—and how they can avoid making those same mistakes this year.
Mistake 1: You only talked to clients during open enrollment.
You are your client’s agent of record all year long, not just during open enrollment. You should be in touch with them regularly to better understand what’s going on with their employees, help them address current challenges, and anticipate future needs.
And if the client isn’t responding to your attempts? Follow up! Learning why they’re so busy — or why they’re avoiding you — can help you address any issues the client is experiencing.
And it should go without saying — if your client reaches out to you, be sure to respond in a timely manner.
Mistake 2: You didn’t address the client’s core HR challenges.
Keeping in touch with clients regularly helps you spot areas where you may be able to help them with current challenges.
- Is the employer struggling to recruit new employees? Help them put together a more competitive benefits package.
- Has the employer noticed a need for a particular line of coverage among their employees? Give them information about additional lines of coverage, such as pet insurance or short-term disability.
- Is the employer looking to keep costs down? Be proactive about their options.
By helping the client address their top concerns, you can position yourself as an invaluable member of their business.
Mistake 3: You didn’t help employees understand their benefits.
While many employees claim to want better benefits coverage, part of the problem may be that they don’t understand what’s covered and how to use their insurance.
Providing clients with resources that help employees better understand how to use their benefits can increase overall satisfaction with benefits packages without raising costs for the employer (increasing their satisfaction with you, too).
Prepare a benefits book that includes information such as the plan’s benefits, terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions, and schedules of benefits.
Mistake 4: You left compliance for the client to handle.
Is compliance technically the employer’s job? Yes. But compliance is an excellent area where you can go above and beyond as their broker.
Clients have varying levels of experience and resources to help them ensure they adhere to the many benefits-related regulations; they may be pretty upset to get hit with a fine only to hear you say, “That’s not my job.” Wrap docs are an easy way to pull together client plan information all in one place to keep clients in compliance.
Mistake 5: You tried to minimize the compensation disclosure discussion.
In 2022, insurance brokers and consultants were required to disclose their expected commissions related to all group health plans and individual health insurance policies. How did the conversation go? Were your clients surprised to learn what you were earning, and how?
Commissions can be a tricky conversation, but not if you’re prepared. Deliver your broker compensation disclosure along with talking points about your service and what you’ve done to serve the client, like helping build more competitive packages or handling compliance.
Mistake 6: You manage your client data in separate systems.
How many logins do you need to access all the information you have about a client? There’s the benadmin system, CRM, document management, and of course, your email. That makes it too easy for vital information and important to-dos to fall through the cracks. Clients typically don’t love it when you have to ask for the information they’ve already provided, or when you forget to take care of that important enrollment task.
An agency management system connects client, plan, and employee data so you only have to enter information once: company information, plan details, group numbers, employee details, dependent details, and more.
Don’t make these mistakes again in 2023.
Many of these mistakes are rooted in the assumption that brokers only need to do the minimum to retain their clients. In the past, that may have worked. But smart brokers are leveraging automation and technology to handle routine tasks so they can focus on solving big problems for their clients. Those brokers are learning from their mistakes—and reaping the rewards.
Wishing you a happy and successful 2023!
Tom Avery is the founder of Innovative Broker Services, a boutique brokerage company and a Top-10 Employee Benefits Agency for 12 consecutive years (Sacramento Business Journal). Tom is also the founder & president of Signal Sync, an insurance industry SaaS and agency automation solution designed for the independent agency. Tom continually writes regarding the many challenges faced by today’s agencies and has developed Signal Sync to overcome these challenges.