We tend to think about bartering as an archaic practice that no longer works in today’s global economy. Say the words “barter system” to anybody you know, and the first thing they’ll think of is more likely to be an image of old-timey pioneers haggling over fish and cans of beans than of anybody in our era discussing serious business transactions. It’s important to note, however, that the barter economy is still alive and well today. You just have to know where it still thrives, and how you can turn it to your advantage.
Then again, maybe you’re already an excellent negotiator, and you didn’t come here to learn tips and tricks for getting your way when making a deal. If you’re on my page, you’re probably wondering: can my bargaining skills help me get lower rates on my group healthcare coverage? I’m happy to tell you that the short answer to that question is: yes, they can. However, as many are quick to point out, it’s a little more complicated than that.
You naysayers out there might be shaking your heads already. Perhaps you’re concerned that your firm will be too small to have any real leverage if you try to negotiate your premiums. You might be surprised to learn that the opposite is more often the case. Your premiums aren’t set in stone, just because they arrived in an official looking envelope. In fact, many small firms have quite a bit of wiggle room when it comes to this kind of thing.
If your company has between 50-99 employees, you’re in a relatively advantageous position to pitch new numbers. That’s not to say that it’s necessarily going to be a cakewalk. You can always expect pushback from the insurance company at first (they are insurance companies after all; let’s not forget that crucial fact). It’s quite typical for insurance companies to provide several reasons for their numbers their costs. Frequently, they’ll try to cite the age of the people in your workplace or the size of any large claims you might have.
Here’s the thing you have to keep in mind: insurance is somewhat like a teeter-totter. They’ll try to tip the balance one way with their own reasons, but you can restore it by adding yours. Hire a good broker to negotiate on your behalf, and they’ll be able to find factors that should convince the insurance company to lower their premiums. If for instance, you have claimants who left the company recently or can prove that the overall health of the organization is improving, you’ll have grounds to claim that you’re a lower risk and that you deserve a lower rate for your group coverage. Certain groups like RelisGroup.com are excellent in negotiations of this nature and can help you twist the numbers to your advantage.
I always encourage people to research the insurance providers they’re thinking about thoroughly before making a decision, but it’s just as important to note that the figures you’ll be quoted aren’t necessarily ironclad. By arming yourself with the right questions and the right people to help you ask them, you may find more flexibility from your insurance company than you initially assumed was possible.