5 Tips For Avoiding Headaches When Renewing Your Company’s Benefit Plans

It amazes me how different their renewals were in the past. Their annual expenses can reach thousands of dollars, with benefits often being their second biggest expense. There have been many stories about last-minute decisions, renewals that were faxed in, and frustration. It doesn’t have to be like this! These five tips will make it easier to renew your contract and help you make smart, informed decisions.

1. Get started early
You can start planning your renewal sooner than you think. There are many things you need to do before the renewal date. Review your renewal and all options. You should review the options available to you if you have gone to market. Compare them with your current plan. Once you’ve settled on the plan, communicate it to employees. They should fill out any paperwork and then return it to you. Next, the carrier must go through their final underwriting, get your approval and load eligibility and benefits into their claim system. Finally, they will mail you ID cards. Do you find that sounds a lot? It is! Your broker should be aware of the time frames and help you keep on track so you meet the deadlines.

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2. Work your renewal.
You should contact your current carrier’s Underwriting staff sooner than you think when calculating your renewal. You and your Broker can do many things together to ensure that the Underwriters stay current and run plan design alternatives along with the renewal. Optional plan designs can be run at different times depending on the size of your company and the carrier you work for. It is important that your Broker be knowledgeable about this process so they can request alternative plans. You and your Broker must work on the renewal after it has been generated. Underwriting must be informed of any changes in the employee population. If you are willing to remain with your carrier, tell them. Your Broker may be able offer rate relief if he is skilled enough to ask the Carrier the right questions. You should review all of your options in the event that you are subject to a large renewal increase. Your broker should be able to offer options that will fit your company’s philosophy while still saving premium. This is why it’s important to start early. It is important to allow yourself to fully explore the process before making a decision.

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3. Get informed
A Texas law has provided small employers with important tools to assist in the renewal process. An employer group would have to either self-fund its benefits or have at most 100 employees in order to obtain any data about how their plan is running before this law was passed. If an employer is correct, the carriers will provide monthly premiums, life counts and information on claims paid. Additional information must be provided by the carrier on claims that exceed $15,000. Your Broker can help you navigate the process if he is current on the new rules.

4. Create a plan.
It is important to plan ahead for renewal. It is important to have a plan in place before you can renew. It is important to know when your renewal will take place and what the timeline should look like. It is important to know the alternatives available in the case of a substantial rate increase before your renewal is calculated.

5. It should be tied together
Multiple benefit plans may be offered by several carriers. One company might handle your health while another could handle your dental plan. Yet another company could handle your life and disability. These plans can become disjointed over time and may renew at different times. Reviewing all these plans is part of the renewal process. You need to ensure they work together and are in line with your goals. Are your dental and medical plans due to renew? The Broker can help you find a solution. Check your plans to determine if they can be combined. You may sometimes negotiate multi-line discounts and save time.

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These are just a few things that can make the renewal process easier. A successful renewal of your plan requires careful planning, good data, early start, working on renewals, and being consistent.