Broker Tech Check: Preparing for the World of Benefits in 2021

The world is changing, and with it the way we do business. In particular, the need for assistance in selecting and administering benefit plans has increased, and the practices surrounding this process are changing by the day. Just this year, brokers and agents received more than $2.9 billion in fees and commissions for assisting with sales of various health and welfare benefit products, according to insights based on the most recent Form 5500 filings.

Feel needed? Definitely. So let’s look at what brokers can do to prepare for 2021. We talked with some of our experts to put together this broker tech check to get you ready for next year and beyond!

Compliance Technology

It’s an online world, and we’re all living in it. Communication, notifications, updates, documents—clients want information and action immediately. It’s not just due to COVID-19 that this happened; but the pandemic did escalate online communication needs. As a result, people want to see these needs met. Our first broker tech check relates to compliance!

First, brokers can take advantage of compliance solutions. Since it’s difficult to manage all compliance documents every time a plan changes, brokers depend on electronic tools and resources that facilitate plan document writing, management, and updating. As a result, the burden of this administrative task is eased by the technology that makes it easy to do. For clients, this supports and increases the value of using a broker.

“A lot of changes can affect compliance with plan documents, and penalties are associated if compliance isn’t met. Keeping everything updated is very important. Solutions like these make that easier for brokers and employers.”

–Tricia Driscoll, ConnectYourCare Director of Product Marketing

Statistics show that people need the help. A survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans reports that only 34% of employees have a solid understanding of their coverage options, while 15% have a “somewhat” or “very low” level of understanding.

Even when businesses make investments in this type of technology, they don’t always use them to their full extent. For instance, a 2020 benchmarking report from Gallagher found that 85% of employers don’t have a comprehensive strategy that aligns their tech investments with their organizational strategies. Brokers are adapting, as well as helping employers do the same, by connecting new technology with organizational priorities.

ConnectYourCare Podcast:
If It Ain’t Broker, Don’t Fix It

Want more information in a bite-sized, easy-listening chunk? Listen as Adam Gehris, Broker Delivery Manager at ConnectYourCare, talks with podcast host Carla Wardin about the questions brokers ask most, what services and technology his team offers, and how brokers can best prepare for next year and beyond.

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Virtual Enrollment Strategy

Now more than ever, brokers need to have the up-to-the-minute information to deal with frequent policy changes. Using virtual, rather than in-person open enrollment fairs and meetings, increases dependence on a reliable online enrollment solution. Broker tech check two is having a virtual enrollment strategy.

In fact, in a ConnectYourCare trend survey of 14,000 employees, less than 3% of account owners said an enrollment fair influenced their enrollment decision. Fairs aren’t the benefit generators they once were.

Virtual enrollment has clear benefits, as it helps brokers stay up to date on technology, plus maintain the bandwidth to support client needs. Of course, brokers always have to keep budgets in mind, but virtual enrollment has lots of cost-saving measures as compared to in person. Brokers who understand and leverage new technology provide assurance to clients and therefore serve as trusted advisors. After all, these virtual solutions aren’t here for the short term.

When employers implement a virtual enrollment strategy, brokers can support them in making informed decisions around cloud-based tools, digitized plan resources, and secure platforms/environments. As an added bonus, it’s compatible with a mobile environment, so clients can have on-demand access to benefit materials, videos, and resources.

Brokers can increase their value by accommodating client work schedules, making it more convenient for clients to involve family members in the decision making, and providing a private setting to discuss health and finances—a luxury that wasn’t always available during in-person fairs.

“There are now so many more tools for employee engagement than there were in the past,” said Nicole Williams, ConnectYourCare Senior Vice President of Broker Partnerships. “By taking advantage of these various tools and mechanisms, brokers are now able to better serve their clients.”

Online Management Solutions

As the onboarding, monitoring, and renewal process has become more complex due to changing regulations, cutting-edge technology continues to work to simplify job responsibilities. Our third broker tech check is having an online management solution.

In the ConnectYourCare 2020 Broker Report, 68% of brokers agreed “Having access to a self-service platform to manage clients, or a self-service platform for clients to manage their employees, would make it easier to recommend and manage benefits.” For instance, ConnectYourCare administers BROKERCommand®, a client and proposal management tool. The technology helps reduce administrative processes, manual paperwork, and data entry.

With BROKERCommand and similar tools, brokers can manage HSAs, FSAs, HRAs, and Commuter Benefits within an online tool, plus enjoy 24/7 access to clients and resources. As a result of increasing automation, brokers can save time and lower costs—which is always a goal of technology solutions.

Saving money will be an even bigger concern as we enter 2021. According to a new survey, employers project their health benefits costs will rise 5.3%in 2021. In addition, COVID-19 continues to fuel uncertainty about overall expenses.

Broker Services

The “Broker Breakthroughs” eBook and “The Broker Guide to Refining Benefits Strategies” survey report are two valuable resources from ConnectYourCare. In addition, brokers can also depend on the Broker Delivery team, which is dedicated solely to helping brokers manage their business.

“We offer brokers the exact same services we give to our clients,” said Adam Gehris, ConnectYourCare Broker Delivery Manager. “We help with running participant balance reports for their clients, claim utilization, processing renewals, and plan end-year updates.”

“The one-on-one personal service we’re giving brokers has made our team a differentiator within the market. We can focus on these relationships and grow our partnerships, since we can give more of a personal touch,” Gehris said.

Moving On

While 2020 had its special set of challenges, we’re all hoping to move forward to a successful new year. Please take advantage of the reports, eBooks, online resources, and especially the people that can help you be an even better broker in our ever-changing world. Hopefully this broker tech check has given you some ideas to head into 2021 with more certainty!

About the Author:
Carla Wardin lives in St Johns, Michigan, where she focuses her writing on the health and technology industries.

By |2020-11-20T10:58:57-05:00November 20th, 2020|Brokers, Employer Posts|
Disclaimer: ConnectYourCare does not provide tax or legal advice. This information is not intended and should not be taken as tax or legal advice. Any tax or legal information in this notice is merely a summary of ConnectYourCare’s understanding and interpretation of some of the current tax regulations and is not exhaustive. You should consult your tax advisor or legal counsel for advice and information concerning your particular situation before making any decisions.
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