How to Choose A Health Insurance Broker

How to Choose A Health Insurance Broker

In 2003, Siobhan Marks was faced with medical bills in excess of US$15,000 when she suffered from a collapsed lung while at work. Fortunately, she was covered by Worker's Compensation as the incident occurred 10 minutes before she clocked out.

Without any health insurance, "The medical bills would have crippled me financially", says Ms. Marks.

As an expatriate in Shanghai, Ms. Marks is now fully aware of the importance of having good health insurance coverage.

Looking at insurance plans is not only time consuming but confusing as well. Choosing the wrong plan, or worse, choosing no plan at all, can leave a family without access to appropriate medical care and emergency services. One of the best ways to ensure that one chooses the right health insurance plan is to work with an insurance broker.

What to Look For In A Good Health Insurance Broker?

Good health insurance brokers should be highly trained in the field of expat health insurance, well verse in all types of insurance including travel, dental, maternity, group medical insurance, medical evacuation and repatriation, capable of assisting clients in the complicated research, selection, application and claims process.

Advantages of working with an insurance broker

Service is Free
Insurance brokers are paid a commission by the insurance companies they represent thus they are able to provide their services free of charge to their clients.

Professional and knowledgeable
Insurance brokers deal with insurance-related matters on a daily basis. Working with brokers is especially helpful if the individual has a pre-existing condition or special requirement. "Despite my breast cancer history, Expatmedicare has now secured me medical coverage with a reputable company at no extra cost for premiums", says Vina Sidhu.

Putting the client's interest first
Insurance brokers can help their clients choose which insurance plan is the right fit by examining their budget and needs.

Claim management
Insurance brokers can provide the guidance needed to ensure that their client's medical bills are processed and paid for.

Able to negotiate better terms
Insurance brokers are highly skilled when it comes to negotiation. This is especially true when dealing with group medical insurance plans.

8 qualities of a good insurance broker - LICENSED

1) Licensed
It is also important to work with a broker that has a license in the country where they operate. This is especially true in China. Without a license, the broker has no legitimate structure or professional liability insurance. The broker can leave the country without being held accountable for the damages or costs incurred by their clients.

2) Independent
It is important to choose a broker who is absolutely independent and unbiased. Customers may not realize that some brokers work with insurers to design their own insurance products. When this happens, brokers may push their own product thereby losing sight of client's interest. An advantage of working with an independent broker is that the client knows they will be presented with multiple products ensuring they can make a comprehensive decision. As well, it is important to know that most insurance companies pay the same commissions so a truly independent broker has no financial motivation to influence a client to choose one provider over another.

3) Competitive
Successful insurance brokers know their business is dependent not only on the relationships they build with their clients, but the partnerships they form with the insurance companies. In order to ensure that their clients are always offered the best options, brokers should consistently conduct market research to ensure that they are presenting the most competitive products.

4) Empathetic
Insurance brokers are in a unique position to help clients make one of the most important choices in life. In order to do this effectively, a good broker should have the passion to help people. An excellent broker should also have the background and expertise to provide their clients with sound advice and peace of mind.

5) Noble
It is essential to work with an insurance broker who conducts his business with integrity and possess a solid reputation. One of the best ways to determine this is to look at how long the broker has been established. Can they provide you with a list of clients who would be willing to provide testimonials?

6) Service-oriented
Insurance brokers know how important it is to provide good service before and after the insurance is purchased. It is not enough to help a client choose the best product. A wise insurance broker knows that the relationship with his clients is ongoing.

7) Excellent communication skills
Insurance is a mine field and a good broker should be able to educate and answer all questions clearly using layman's terms.

8) Dedicated
"A good broker should have a clear understanding of their client's needs. Without a proper diagnosis, there can be no prescription. One of the key factors when advising our clients is to look for a good long-term solution at a cost effective rate. Sometimes, a plan may look cheap at first but the annual rate increase may be substantial", says Margaret Ferte, owner of Expatmedicare.

In a Nutshell

Good Insurance Brokers should be LICENSED

√ Licensed
√ Independent
√ Competitive
√ Empathetic
√ Noble
√ Service-Oriented
√ Excellent Communication Skills
√ Dedicated