Brokers vs Consultants
Employee benefits brokers are those who provide and have access to information about different employee benefits options. Brokers also help employers choose the appropriate offerings by extending their expertise and inputs on market and industry trends. Benefits consultants would typically offer more services than benefit brokers would, such as assistance with multiple benefits and in-depth decision and consulting assistance to both, employers and employees. It was found that the fee structure differs from brokers to consultants based on the nature and the number of add on policies provided. Companies that are key examples of consultants are Mercer — Health and Benefits, Willis Towers Watson — Health, Wellbeing, and Productivity, and USI Insurance Services — Population Health Management. The key company examples for employee benefits brokers are Benefit Brokerage Services and Britton Gallagher Brokerage Services.
BASIC Difference: BROKERS VS Consultants
- Typically, a “Broker” is someone who has access to various options in a particular field of specialization and helps employers narrow down their choices to obtain the best solutions. Employee benefits brokers are those professionals who provide and have access to data on the wide range of employee benefit options. These brokers help employers select benefits offerings that suit their needs by providing insights and expertise based on market trends.
- Benefits consultants, on the other hand, are known to provide more services than brokers would. These services would typically include in-depth decision-making and consulting assistance to employers and employees and assistance with multiple benefits.
- The fee structure is found to differ from consultants to brokers, depending on the number of add-on policies needed and the nature of the benefits included.
- According to Parker-Smith-Feek, where employee benefits are concerned, "a consultant is always a broker, but not every broker is necessarily a consultant".
- While a broker's role is to help customers purchase the right insurance policy, a consultant's role is to help clients with the best possible structure of a program.
- A consultant will also take the environment where the employees work and live to create a comprehensive benefits program.
Services Provided: BROKERS Vs Consultants
- Some benefits brokers might work for just one organization, for example — a health insurance provider, and will attempt to steer their clients through options that only the organization provides. Other benefits brokers may not be connected to one provider alone but may specialize in particular classes of benefits.
- It is also found that certain benefits brokers have a large range of benefits options but do not have the necessary know-how across all the options.
- According to Business Benefits Group, benefits consultants are found to be more favorable among businesses due to the fact that they are not particularly partial to any one insurance provider. Most consultants work with various insurers to maximize their client's value.
SERVICES and Benefits of a BROKER
- Majority of benefits brokers specialize in some form of insurance and therefore, can provide assistance and information in opting for the right type of insurance program.
- Brokers help employers adhere to the various compliance acts concerning benefits, for example, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
- Brokers provide advice on the right means of minimizing total costs, such as reducing total premiums.
- They assist with employee communications that are most commonly related to benefits education and enrollment.
- They also help with reviewing contacts and with leveraging benefits providers for the best solutions.
- Brokers analyze their clients' existing claims and benefits to offer advice on the required changes that must be made along with potential cost savings.
- Brokers also provide advice on what needs to be changed with existing benefits packages based on the client's employee demographics and previous utilization rates.
- They offer direct assistance to those employees who have claims, coverage, benefits, or have questions on the services they provide.
- It was found that brokers might have contracts with certain insurers and thus would make recommendations that promote the particular insurer by providing clients with trade-offs and discounts on programs.
- The fee structure for brokers is most commonly bundled along with the coverage package offered. Some brokers are found to work on a standard rate based on the client's specific requirements.
Services & Benefits of benefit consultants
- Employers who work alongside benefits consultants have the advantage to gain a thorough insight into the understanding of their business and the way their employees think. This process will ensure that they obtain the best value of their benefits package.
- A benefits consultant provides business-owners with advice and knowledge on the insurance market, including changes and trends that might affect their business.
- Some services that consultants provide are health and wellness consulting, insurer claim audits, taxation support, vendor service monitoring, benefit plan financial management, financial accounting audits, and plan design development.
- Benefits consultants are generally highly knowledgeable about compliance, risk management, legal and regulatory aspects, and everything that is related to the health marketplace.
- Benefits consultants collaborate with clients to develop a transparent and professional relationship for better long-term success.
Benefit Broker companies: Examples
#1 Benefits Brokerage Services
- Benefits Brokerage has served for over 20 years as a "General Agency" to empower benefits brokers with a vast pool of experience.
- The company has an Ancillary Product offering broad and has established itself as a specialist in the area of alternative funding.
#2 Britton Gallagher Brokerage Services company
- This private benefits insurance broker values the relationships developed with clients. The company's consultative approach allows it to work with a wide range of organizations from small local companies to large enterprises with multiple locations across the country.
- The company's strategy of direct access helps them to design medical programs that maximize budget, maintain employee satisfaction, and remain competitive within the market.
Benefit Consultant companies: Examples
#1 Mercer — Health and Benefits
- Mercer is considered to be a leader in the global health benefits industry. The company offers innovative solutions that address the wellness and health needs of their employees and clients.
- Mercer provides a comprehensive range of health benefits solutions to various businesses. The company offers access to experts from the local market along with expertise from international resources that provide advice on innovative benefit strategies and regulatory compliance.
- Mercer Workplace Health offers an approach that helps employers enhance the performance of their employees and overall business through improved engagement, productivity, and cost reduction in the areas of health incentives, internal measurement, engagement, brokerage, and benefits design.
#2 Willis Towers Watson — Health, Wellbeing, and Productivity
- Watson develops various wellness strategies and introduces governance frameworks. The company believes that the major components in the field of health and wellbeing are obtaining relevant information for analysis, understanding potential health risks, and maximizing participation.
- The company's Health and Group Benefits Practice helps to design, perform, and manage health and wellness programs that strategically operational for clients at any and every stage of the wellness cycle.
#3 USI Insurance Services — Population Health Management
- USI Insurance Services has one of the most comprehensive and largest network of Population Health Managers (PHM) of any key brokerage in the United States. The expertise of their wide range of professionals ranges from clinicians, nutritionists, program managers, health promotion specialists, communication specialists, to data analysts.
- The health management services the company provides, include population health management program feasibility analysis, program design, implementation, analysis, and reporting, budget guidance and incentive models, targeted communications to increase engagement, predictive modeling and large claims analysis, and chronic condition and disease management strategies.
- The company's benefits team utilizes the platform, USI ONE®, a strategically different approach taken to tackle risk management and employee benefits. USI ONE combines proprietary business analytics with a range of local and national experts to evaluate the customer’s risk and determine targeted solutions. Customers then obtain a tailored profile of recommendations to improve their employee benefits schemes.