As the cost of providing benefits continues to rise, so do employee expectations about choices and coverage. Many employers struggle to balance employee needs with their own capabilities and bottom line reality. A excellent benefits consultant – Pacific Group is an example – can help you meet these divergent needs. Retaining a consultant to advise you about your insurance and benefits programs is an important process. What should you expect from your consultant? Obtaining competitive quotes for coverage and handling claims problems is only a small part of what you should expect from your insurance and employee benefits adviser. Look for a consultant that has the expertise and staff to provide custom employee communication materials, human resources tools, claims data analysis services and much more. How do you officially retain a consultant’s services? There is no “typical” contract used to retain an insurance consultant for your company. Most consultants are independent agencies that work with a wide range of carriers, which is how they can source the best products for your insurance and employee benefits programs. All you have to do is provide any carriers you currently use with a letter that names the consultant you choose as your “Consultant of Record.” Doing so allows the consultant to get quotes from more markets, better leverage relationships with carriers, and gain a better negotiating position with carriers on your behalf. How is a consultant compensated? Consultants are generally paid commission by the insurance carriers chosen by their clients. The client pays a premium to the carrier(s) each month. With those premium dollars, the carrier provides coverage to our clients and pays their claims, and pays a commission to the consultant. Because consultants typically receive commission dollars on a monthly basis, your plan renewal dates do not affect your ability to retain consultant services. You can change your consultant at any time during your plan year. Are your employees getting the best value for their money? Your employees pay a portion of the benefit plan cost, and consequently are paying a portion of the consultant’s fees. Give them the best value by working with a quality organization that has the resources to keep your employees informed, healthy and satisfied with their benefits experience.