One of the most common statements I hear while working with Fire Protection Districts, in regards to managing their employee benefits, is “under our Collective Bargaining Agreement we can’t make any changes to the policies.”
While that is a valid concern, it doesn’t mean you have to sit back and wait for the rates to go up at renewal time. My typical response in those situations is a simple question, “What is your strategy to protect your policy and your premium?”
If you’re unable to answer that question, then it’s time to start looking beyond the 12-month renewal period. Fire District budgets aren’t increasing, but insurance costs are and looking at ways to curb employee utilization and control rising costs, while still offering a strong benefits portfolio is no easy task. Thankfully, there are multiple avenues to consider when protecting your benefits package, such as:
- Properly managing retirees on your benefit programs
- Offering telemedicine options
- Implementing a level-funded program
- Packaging your ancillary lines of coverage
There is no one-size fits all in these scenarios, so finding an advisor that will ask the deeper questions and provide sound guidance for your specific challenges is essential. The renewal is set annually, but working on your benefits program is a year-round task.
The biggest take-away I can offer Fire Districts is to be proactive with your benefits, remember that you aren’t limited to by your current renewal cycle, and ask about your alternative options. What you do today could affect the type of benefits you are able to offer in the future.