Frequently Asked Questions  

Our FAQs General Frequently Asked Questions

I want to get the most out of my retirement. Where do I start?

Our goal is to help you with your unique needs and individual goals. We seek to simplify complex concepts so you may better understand them and, as a result, feel more confident in your decision-making. We have the knowledge to help address your financial concerns, no matter how complex. Come see us today.

What type of financial services does Asset Solutions Group offer?

Our financial professionals provide estate planning, financial consulting, benefit, and management services for individuals, groups, and families. Call us today to learn more.

I am the designated HR contact at my job and I need additional help and documentation. Does Asset Solutions Group offer any help managing our benefit packages?

Yes. Asset Solutions Group not only help manage the benefits packages, we provide additional services for free that ensure you are compliant with the Department of Labor and the Department of Insurance. We also provide a free HR library with thousands of resources for HR managers. All of the documentation is accredited and backed by top lawyers. You can create employee handbooks, job descriptions, print out posters, find interview questions and more. Visit our HR Library today.

I want to protect my family from the unknown. Can Asset Solutions Group help?

Yes. A key component of financial planning is mitigating risk. Everyone wants to feel secure and having the right insurance may help you feel confident with your financial plan. Regular reviews of insurance policies protecting life, property, health, disability, long-term care, and other programs can ensure against losing income, savings, retirement and even your home. We can evaluate your current risk plans to determine if they adequately meet your needs at whatever stage you are in life.

What does an insurance broker do? Do I pay extra for a broker?

An insurance broker shops for you and acts as an intermediary between you and insurance providers. You do not pay any extra to have an insurance broker. We are paid by the insurance carrier to assist you in finding the right plan. We specialize in insurance and risk management. As brokers, we act on behalf of our clients.

Our FAQs Association Health Plans Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Association Health Plan?

An Association Health Plan (AHP) allows small employers with common business interests to band together to enroll themselves and their employees into large employer health plan.  AHPs:

  • Provide greater negotiating power with insurance providers;
  • Reduce administrative burden for small businesses; and
  • Provide access to health coverage typically only available to large employers.

What are the requirements to enroll in an Association Health Plan?

The requirements to enroll in an Association Health Plan (AHP) depend on the eligibility requirements of the sponsoring association.  Generally, you must be a member, in good standing, with the sponsoring association and pay your annual or monthly association dues.  However, not all members of an association can participate in the AHP.  Regulations do not allow sole proprietors to be part of an AHP and insurers will usually not allow large employers (which can negotiate directly with insurers) to participate.  There may be other requirements such as revenue tests, licensing and restrictions based on NAIC codes.

What is the Policy Year and the Plan Year for an Association Health Plan?

Plan years for most insurers typically match the calendar year.  This means that your deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and other accumulators will start over every January 1 (though this is not always the case).  The Policy Year describes when the renewal date is, which is when rates and plan benefits most often change, and when open enrollment occurs.  Most associations have plan years for all their participating employers on the same date and is usually the start of a quarter.  However, Asset Solutions Groups specializes in creating health plans with insurers that allow groups to enroll and renew throughout the year.  This minimizes the rush of enrollment at one particular time of the year and allows the association to experience more even enrollment.

How many plan options does a typical Association Health Plan offer their membership?

Most Association Health Plans (AHPs) offer between three and six plans to their membership.  Asset Solutions Group works with carriers to design multiple plan options to your membership.  In some cases, the plan offering mimic those plan designs available in the small group market (but at discounted rates) and in some cases, the plan offerings mimic large group plans available to unions and other large employers.  Our unique experience with insurers allows us to assist the insurer in offering a high number of plans in an efficient manner, maximizing the options available to the broker sales force and your membership.  In fact, we have one association that offers 36 different PPO and HMO plan designs to their membership!

I like my broker. Do I have to change brokers?

Absolutely not!  In fact, we encourage you to work with your broker to determine the best association plan for you; your broker is your benefits expert and will be able to focus on your needs.  If your broker is unfamiliar with the association, we will work with them to understand everything they need to know to connect you to the right plan option.  We work with the association to ensure there are no unnecessary requirements for brokers to help you get the right plan.  While some competing associations require the broker be a member of their association (with high membership fees) or simply don’t allow other brokers to sell their association plan to their membership, our associations allow any broker to sell our association plans, as long as they are appointed by the insurer.

How can you offer rates so low for Association Health Plans?

Association Health Plans use the bargaining power of hundreds of employers and thousands of employees in low risk industries to negotiate better rates with insurers in the large group market (employers with more than 50 employees), which is regulated differently than the small group market (2-50 employees).  By banding together under the Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) rules in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), small employer members of associations can enjoy the large employer benefits.

MEWA and ERISA rules? Sounds complicated!

Yes and no.  MEWA and ERISA rules are extremely complicated… unless you have the right expertise in your corner.  Asset Solutions Group provides decades of association health plan expertise, industry insider experience, access to legal and accounting teams, product set up information, filing deadlines, communication to your membership, outreach to market brokers and more.  We’ll take on the complication and uncomplicate it for you!

Why is MEWA and ERISA compliance so important?

Association Health Plans (AHPs) that do not follow MEWA and ERISA rules can face a number of legal issues.  First, an association that is no longer determined to be a bona fide association can be found to be offering insurance to its membership illegally resulting in termination of your coverage.  There are IRS and DOL filing requirements that may fall on the small employer if the association loses its status as an association which can result in fines to the membership.  Additionally, the association may have to pay fines that would be passed onto its membership.

How can I tell if my association is compliant with ERISA?

It is difficult for an outsider to tell whether an association is compliant with the rules.  However, here are a few questions you can ask your association.  If they dance around the answer or can’t provide the documentation, chances are that they are not a bona fide association health plan.

  • How long has your association sponsored its MEWA plans?
  • Is your association’s MEWA plan compliant with ERISA?
  • Has your association requested an opinion letter from the Department of Labor to confirm its status as a bona fide association?
  • Did your MEWA file the required initial or annual Form M1 with DOL advising of its formation and, if so, can I get a copy?
  • Is your association the named fiduciary of the MEWA and is it covered by a fiduciary liability insurance policy?
  • Does your association provide a summary plan description and, if so, can I get a copy?
  • Did your MEWA file a Form 5500 Annual Report and, if so, can I get a copy?
  • Does your MEWA have a trust agreement and, if so, can I get a copy?
  • Did the association’s MEWA file a tax return and, if so, can I get a copy?

Our FAQs Employee Benefits Frequently Asked Questions

How does ASG control my healthcare costs?

We use our years of insurance experience to create a strategy that will work for years.  It’s not just about finding the lowest cost plan today – but rather, ensuring a long-term, sustainable plan that minimizes price fluctuations and keeps benefits stable for your employees.  We use benchmarking and data analytics to show you where your premium falls in comparison to similar companies.  Additionally, we negotiate with carriers to get you the best rate and suggest alternative options for funding your benefits.

What services does ASG provide?

The most important service ASG provides in any client relationship is quoting.  We will interview you to determine the best plan options for your needs and help guide you through the insurance application process.  We provide enrollment and disenrollment services throughout the year as well as assistance when a member has issues with the insurance company.  It’s this ongoing service throughout the year that make our clients love us!

Can we see your references?

Absolutely!  Any good broker should be able to provide references to guarantee they are focused on your needs.  Our retention in the industry is second to none.  We would be happy to provide you with references.

How does ASG handle the renewal process?

Typically, the renewal process begins 60 days prior to the renewal date.  However, we work with you and your insurer proactively year-round, ensuring plenty of time to review claims, enrollment and premium data, gather competitive quotes and make appropriate decisions.  We negotiate your renewal rate each year and suggest products that would be appealing to your employees.

How does ASG ensure compliance?

We take your compliance seriously!  Let’s face it – you have better things to do than learn about health plans and employee benefits.  We provide you with the information, resources and tools you need to ensure your compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and other federal rules.  Additionally, we have staff dedicated to getting you the compliance answers you need.  We also provide SPD wrap documents and our HR library.

How does ASG support my HR department?

ASG acts as a trusted partner who works strategically with HR, supplying the vital tools for success.  We act as the one-stop-shop for enrollment services for all insurance products.

Can I have a dedicated account manager?

Yes! We always provide an account manager that will assist you throughout the year.  Our dedicated account manager will always be available to help you if you have a question about your plan or are having trouble making a claim.  Your account manager can help you resolve any insurance issue you may have.

How does ASG determine the best coverage for me?

Your employees’ insurance and benefits needs will change over time due to organization and economic conditions.  ASG understands the benefits packages your competitors have and can provide you with an appropriate plan to attract and retain the best talent in your industry.  We can demonstrate the experience necessary to create initial benefit packages and will continue to monitor employee and business needs based on the financial information you provide.

Our FAQs Asset Protection (Life Insurance) Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need life insurance?

The traditional life insurance policy is not for you – it’s for your family.  It helps your family cover expenses in the event of the loss of your income both in the short term and long term following your death.  However, a new class of life insurance can also help you prepare for retirement and avoid certain taxable situations.

I thought life insurance was only in case I died! I can use it for retirement?

Yes! Certain Indexed Universal Life policies allow you to borrow money against the cash value of the policy.  We can help you set this up so that you can obtain retirement income avoiding certain taxable events.

If I borrow too much money from the policy, won’t the policy terminate?

For several decades, insurance companies allowed the policy holder to borrow money against the policy.  As a loan, this funding is not a taxable event.  However, until recently, we did not recommend this approach as policy holders often withdrew too much, causing the policy to terminate.  To avoid this, a few years ago, insurance companies added a rider that kicks in preventing the termination of the insurance policy.

How much life insurance do I need?

That is a complicated answer that requires a thorough review of you current financial situation and anticipated needs.  We will ask you questions regarding your current income, assets, liabilities, when you want to retire, who and what do you want to protect and more to determine the best option for you.

I already have a life insurance policy. Can you still help me?

Absolutely. First, there are no rules that prevent you from having multiple life insurance policies.  Second, we can review your current policy and determine if you should continue with that policy, add additional life insurance policies based on your updated situation, or role over that policy into another policy. We’ve been assisting with life insurance needs for over four decades and we’ve seen it all!