Five Steps in the Broker Selection Process

In Part 1 of this blog series we offered tips on how to select a benefits broker and when you should consider looking for a new broker. In this follow-up post, we’ll take a look at the 5 Steps to follow in the broker selection process.

Start Early

When contemplating how to choose a benefits broker we strongly suggest you start the process well in advance of your planned renewal date. The broker selection process is multifaceted, regardless of the size of your company. Read more

select a benefits broker

Looking for Tips on How to Select a Benefits Broker?

It is vital to know how to select a benefits broker properly. Finding the right employee benefits broker to manage your employee benefits package is essential if you hope to maintain your company’s competitive edge.

Many people jump to the conclusion that a broker’s job is just to shop for coverage. However, this is only one of their many important responsibilities.

Experience Can Make the Difference

You will want to find a benefits broker with great experience. You need a broker who can build a customized benefits plan that involves a holistic and tailored approach to the philosophy of your company. From your budget and plan design to the company’s human resource policy (and even information technology concerns), everything must be considered.

If you are currently working with a broker that merely shops around for price, then you are not maximizing the comprehensive range of results that a top broker can bring to your company. If you don’t have a broker or you are wondering how to select a benefits broker to replace the one you currently have, here are some points to consider.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), even a small difference in your broker’s capabilities (and subsequent results) can have a dramatic effect on costs. When you consider that your broker will manage a budget of 25-40% of your company’s payroll, you need to be sure they have the experience to do so most effectively.

What Value Does Your Broker Bring?

A practiced broker’s efforts influence much more than just the financial security of your business. Their efforts repeatedly have an impact on the health and wellbeing of your employees and their families.

Life-altering moments can occur at any time, and usually do when you least expect them. An employee’s child may have been diagnosed with cancer, or their mother suddenly has a severe heart attack. Or, maybe retirement is around the corner for someone. Have you and your broker worked together to ensure your employees not only have all the coverage they need but also the right resources and support in place?

The first and most important step you must take as an employer when it comes to setting up employee’s benefits is educating yourself on how to select a benefits broker with experience; one that can ensure the optimal benefits for your employees.

We Are Here to Help

At Benefit Strategies Inc., we have more than 30 years in the employee benefits and group benefits industry. We can promise and deliver effective strategies tailored to your company’s philosophy that will turn your employee benefits program into a profitable and much-appreciated investment.

You may already have an employee benefits program but feel there are other options you wish to explore. Or perhaps you are just looking into how to find a benefits broker that can help design a great benefits plan – one that better fits your budget and your employees’ needs. We’d like to help.

Based out of Edmonton Alberta, Benefit Strategies Inc. has over three decades of experience working with companies throughout the Western Provinces, including the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

If you would like more information on how to select a benefits broker or if you wish to speak to an experienced broker to discuss your plan, please call us at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

Employees in a board meeting.

Benefit Strategies Inc. Wins Consumer Choice Award

For two years running (2018 and 2019), Benefit Strategies Inc. in Edmonton Alberta has been awarded the Consumer Choice Award for Business Excellence.

The majority of our clients are from the Edmonton and the Northern Alberta area, but our group and employee benefits brokers also service small and medium sized businesses throughout Western Canada, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.

Voted Best Group Benefits Broker

Voted Best Group Benefits Broker

The Consumer Choice Award program has been recognizing business excellence throughout Canada for more than 30 years. This recognition is awarded by consumers to help other consumers make better and more informed buying decisions.

Benefit Strategies Inc. was the only winner in the “Group Benefits Broker” category for the Edmonton and Northern Alberta area.

We offer creative solutions for group and employee benefits plus complimentary benefit analysis and exceptional on-going benefits plan management.

About the Consumer Choice Award

Established in 1987, the sole purpose of the Consumer Choice Award (CCA) is to recognize small and medium sized local businesses for their business excellence. The CCA award uses a 4-step ranking process that is statistically supported by independent market research. CCA Award winners are selected by the consumer based partly on customer satisfaction and brand reputation. This recognition helps to inform and assure other consumers they will be receiving best in class for products and service in this market.

Contact Us

Benefit Strategies Inc. is located at #204 – 6908 Roper Road in Edmonton AB.

To learn more about our group and employee benefits plans or about our company, please call us at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

 

Click here to see the full list of winners for 2018 on the news release by Globe News Wire.

Older man with laptop at a table.

When Employees Delay Retirement It Affects Benefits Plans

The changing demographics of the workforce have seen an increased number of employees delay retirement and work beyond the retirement age we had grown accustomed to.

Some seniors choose not to retire because they still find work interesting. Others cannot afford to retire and feel they must continue working. As an employer, both groups will force you to re-examine your employee benefits package to determine how this emerging workplace trend will affect your business.

Defined Contributions Delay Retirement

Defined contribution benefit plans, where a portion of the employee’s salary is used to pay for their benefits, has made it difficult for many to save for retirement however, employers can also suffer when employees delay retirement.

Employees in higher positions that wait longer to retire leave no room for mid-level employees who want to move up. Mid-level employees are squeezed out of their linear career trajectory.

Companies identifying this trend are feeling pressured to move towards developing more lateral career paths for all employees. Business owners must identify responsibility overlaps and allocate portions of high-level employee work to their mid-level employees.

Aging Employees In the Workplace Increase Health Claims

Managing aging employees in the workplace has also become more of a challenge for employers. With aging employees, health claims rise and increased pressure is applied to employee benefit packages. In addition, these higher costs of treatment are often passed on to the employer.

Be sure to check out our article on Employee Benefit Plans for Employees Over 65 Years.

Changing Employee Benefits for the Changing Workplace

Before you consider changing your employee benefits plan, speak with one of our Benefit Strategies brokers first. We can help you determine where your current benefits package might be insufficient to accommodate aging employees in the workforce.

We’ll guide you through the steps necessary to optimize your employee benefits package and help prepare your business for adjusting to the changing demographics of the workforce.

Call Benefit Strategies Inc. today at 1-780-437-5070 and ask for Daryl Smith.

As an experienced employee benefits broker, Daryl will explain in detail why employees delay retirement, and what your business needs to address in light of this emerging workplace trend. You can also reach Daryl by email.

Group at a table discussing benefit plan design changes.

5 Benefits of Working with an Employee Benefits Broker

Are you considering implementing an employee benefits plan in your workplace? Before starting to evaluate any employee benefits plan, here are 5 benefits of working with an Employee Benefits Broker at Benefit Strategies Inc.:

  1. Benefits brokers offer you a Comprehensive Evaluation
  2. There’s more flexibility in putting the Employee Benefits Plan together
  3. Benefits brokers have extensive industry awareness
  4. Brokers understand the best investment opportunities
  5. Employee benefits brokers provide sound, knowledgeable advice

You Get a Comprehensive Evaluation

Employee benefits brokers discuss your benefits needs without pre-determination. After evaluating your long and short-term goals, employee benefits brokers further examine your employee demographics, compare your benefits plan to other similarly-sized companies, consider the costs versus benefits of different plan designs, then provide you with an innovative solution that addresses your specific needs.

You Get the Best Flexible Plans

Employee benefits brokers have a distinct advantage over specific benefit carriers. Brokers can draw on a wider range of services from an extensive group of Canadian benefits providers. This allows your benefits broker to create a tailored employee benefits package, pooling from a variety of sources simultaneously. This approach allows us to blanket all of your particular considerations and broker a flexible plan that specifically meets your company’s needs.

You Benefit from a Broker’s Wide Industry Awareness

Because of their extensive industry knowledge of available benefits plans and plan carriers, registered employee benefits brokers can provide the most widespread and economically priced solutions for your company. Brokers also keep you up to date on any policy changes, as well as provincial and federal laws that may affect the coverage policies of your employee benefits plan.

Investment Understanding

Employee benefits brokers understand that benefit plans are an investment in your employees. Specifically tailored benefit plans can help ease the financial burden for those that need to use them, creating happier employees, which in turn, helps to increase productivity and employee motivation. Offering benefits also help make your business a more attractive place to work, enticing the best employees in your field of need.

You Benefit from Sound Advice

After appraising your needs, employee benefits brokers provide easy to understand explanations of the available benefit options and help you appreciate the value of each benefit so you can make an informed decision on a benefits plan that is right for you and your employees.

Benefit Strategies Inc., now has over three decades of service, providing group and employee benefits plans to companies across the western provinces and Canadian territories.

For more information on the benefits of working with an employee benefits broker, contact Employee Benefit Strategies Inc. today at 780-437-5070 or send us an email.

Computer showing Insurance Policy graphic

Canada Critical Illness Insurance – FAQ

The purpose of this critical illness insurance FAQ blog post by Benefit Strategies, is to offer answers to some very basic questions that most Canadians have on this subject.

A critical illness insurance policy helps pay costs associated with a life-altering illness and is received as a lump sum cash payment. Essentially, a critical illness insurance policy helps you recover from a serious illness, condition, or disease, while maintaining your family’s lifestyle and financially stability.

For more information outside of this critical illness insurance FAQ, please contact our Edmonton Benefits Brokers directly at 1-780-437-5070.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a critical illness?

Each critical illness insurance policy is unique but common critical illnesses may include:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Life threatening cancer
  • Major organ transplant
  • Total deafness or blindness
  • Loss of speech
  • Severe burns
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease

Why do I need critical illness insurance?

A critical illness insurance policy will ensure that you have the financial resources should you get sick and are unable to earn an income for any period of time.

Here are just four ways a Canada critical illness insurance policy could help you:

  1. Pay for financial obligations – Including you mortgage, car payments, credit card debt, and so on.
  2. Keep your independence – Make any modifications to your home or vehicle, or hire a caretaker to help.
  3. Pay for medical services – Help offset costs for medication or treatments not covered by your Provincial Healthcare provider.
  4. Relieve the pressure – Gives you the freedom to spend your time however you think may be most conducive for recovering, including spending time with family.

Is critical illness insurance worth it?

The answer to this question is personal. Everyone places a different value on their peace of mind, knowing they are financially secure in the event of becoming sick or incapacitated. Other people may prefer to forego insurance premiums and would rather save up a rainy day fund to cover critical illness expenses, should they occur. When deciding how you feel about critical illness insurance keep in mind that most Canadians have a reasonable probability that they will develop a critical illness by the time they are 65.

What affects critical illness insurance cost?

There are a number of considerations that can affect the cost of critical illness insurance rates:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Amount of coverage
  • Smoking and drinking status
  • Health history
  • Current health
  • Occupation
  • Family History

Can I get combined life and critical illness insurance?

Many Canadian insurance companies offer disability insurance and critical illness insurance together. These bundled or combined disability and critical illness insurance policies can often help you save money over time.

What’s the difference between disability and critical illness insurance?

There are three main differences between disability and critical illness insurance:

  • Critical illness insurance pays out as a lump sum and typically sooner than disability insurance.
  • Critical illness does not require proof of income while disability insurance does.
  • Critical illness insurance policies are typically less expensive than disability insurance.

Disability insurance protects your income against the risk of a disability that would prevent you from working. Disability insurance will only pay out a portion of your income, until you are able to return to work.

Critical illness insurance however, pays the benefit after a diagnosis of a serious life-altering illness, regardless of whether you have a current income or not, or if you are able to work or not.

Is critical illness insurance taxable?

A critical illness insurance benefit payout is usually not taxable and comes in the form of lump sum payment, for you to spend in whatever way you wish.

Furthermore, any employer-paid critical insurance premiums are not a taxable benefit to the employee.

Do You Still Have Questions?

At Benefit Strategies Inc., critical illness insurance is just one aspect of our executive benefit solutions to help balance the benefit requirements of owners and managers.

If you have more questions that this critical illness insurance FAQ couldn’t answer, please call 1-780-437-5070 to speak with one of our executive benefit advisors today, or contact us online for a free Consultation.

Businessman with his finger on the word BENEFITS

How Are Benefit Brokers Paid?

A common question we get asked is, “How are Benefits Brokers paid?

Benefit Strategies has been helping employers with benefits management services for over three decades and this question is more common than you might think. Call 1-780-437-5070 to speak with one of our Benefit Brokers today.

Our potential clients are often curious at how we get compensated for researching, recommending, and implementing a workplace benefits plan for employees. There are two basic pricing models that can be followed:

  1. Commissions Based Compensation
  2. Fee Based Compensation

Commissions Based Benefits Brokers

The majority of benefits brokers in Edmonton (and Alberta) are commissions based. This means they are paid a small percentage of the premiums paid to the insurer. This is usually built right into your benefits premiums. Commissions can vary from flat to graded rates depending on the insurance company.

  1. A flat rate commissions based benefits broker simply receives a percentage that does not vary with usage or time of use.
  2. A graded rate commission varies by dollar amount, for example:

12.5% for the first $5,000
9% for the next $69,000
7.2% for anything beyond $75,000

Fee Based Benefits Brokers

Fees based benefit plans are typically used for larger client accounts where an hourly fee for brokerage services is more appropriate. Any fees based plan is approved in writing prior to any charges. Sometimes Commissions and Fees Based pricing are used together.

Other Ways Benefit Brokers Are Paid

Contingency Income – A criteria based fee structure is what we call contingency income. Many benefits brokers will have this type of contingency income arrangement with any insurer that qualifies them for payment once certain criteria are met. This is normally calculated on an annual basis.

It can be hard to pinpoint how much your specific policy may help your broker earn. In general, contingency income payments depend more on the overall performance of the broker and their ability to keep their clients happy, rather than selling one specific employee benefits plan.

Supplemental Commissions – These are becoming more common and are starting to replace contingent commissions in some instances. Supplemental commissions are “fixed payments” established annually, based on historic performance. In the employee benefits industry, benefits brokers refer to these as “Guaranteed Supplemental Commissions” or GSCs.

From time to time, employee benefits brokers can also receive alternative compensation and benefits from insurance companies in the form of promotional events, products, training, and so on.

Our Edmonton Benefits Broker – Worth Every Penny

A good benefits broker will truly add value to your employee benefits plan.

At Benefit Strategies Inc., and at other trusted Alberta brokerage firms, you can expect your benefits broker to help with:

  • Presenting your workplace benefits plan to various insurance providers
  • Comparing the Pros and Cons of various employee benefits plans
  • Setting up the chosen benefits plan
  • Negotiating employee benefits plan’s renewal

Above and beyond services that we offer may include customizing communication for your staff (and raising awareness for the employee benefits plan), help with cost containment, and compare your benefits plan against other employers in your industry.

You can also complete our quick Contact Form through our website to get in touch with us.

Contact our Employee Benefits Plan Brokers

If you have more questions about how our benefits brokers are paid or wish more information about employee benefit plans call Benefit Strategies at 1-780-437-5070 or us an Email.