Austin Benefits Group is taking benefits to a new level


At this time of year, people are making their final decisions on benefits for themselves and their families as the enrollment season draws to a close. Benefits – from health care coverage to disability and dental care – have become even more important in recent years with more people covered, more options available and more workers using benefits as a way to decide which jobs they wish to take.

Dean Austin, founder and CEO of the Bloomfield Hills-based Austin Benefits Group, has dedicated his professional life to helping small- and medium-sized businesses as well as individuals navigate the complexities of benefits. “With the changes that have taken place since the Affordable Care Act, there really is a lot of specialization in what we do and how we do it,” says Austin. “It has gotten so much more complicated, especially on the compliance front.”

For the owners of growing businesses, learning the ins and outs of proper coverage for their employees can be a time consuming and often frustrating pursuit. This is especially true in a post-Covid world with employees needing and expecting better coverage.

“I don’t think there’s been a time when benefits have been more important to employees,” says Austin. At the same time, “employers are faced with so many different challenges. They had the Great Resignation, now they have quiet quitters. Never mind the cost and rate increases happening in health care. It’s so challenging for small businesses in this labor market to try and find and replace people to grow your business.”

As a result, Austin says, “we’re seeing an emphasis on improving health insurance offerings. With the pandemic, for example, so many small businesses are buying disability coverage for their employees (in case they get sick).”

As companies work look to offer more benefits to attract and retain talent, most employees are unaware of these moves and what they mean in terms of their full compensation package. Austin Benefits Group helps clients demonstrate to their employees exactly how much they are investing in their health and wellbeing.

“We provide employee benefit statements to our employer groups and clients which shows all of the money the company has spent on each employee’s benefit package on top of their wages,” says Austin. “You could have an employee making $85,000 a year but the company is paying $20,000 in benefits, so their true compensation is $105,000. These statements have been a really important way for our clients to show their investment in their employees.”

For employers, Austin Benefits Group can handle any and all facets of benefits management. “It’s basically taking your benefit plan and outsourcing it to us to handle all of the product design, administration, employee communication and technology,” says Austin. The company also offers an employee concierge service. “If you’re an employee and you’re having a problem with any health insurer (Blue Cross, Priority Health, HAP or United Healthcare) or with a prescription or your dentist didn’t cover something correctly, you would call our office and say hey, I need help.”

This idea of specialized care and service is at the heart of what inspired Dean Austin to launch the company in the first place. Austin got into the insurance business right out of college, working as an insurance carrier representative for an East Coast firm called Paul Revere. Later, when Paul Revere was purchased by a larger firm that soon merged with UNUM, the largest life and disability company in the world, Austin assumed a leadership role helping coordinate the merger and running all employee benefits.

“I took the best of the practices I learned and created Austin Benefits Group,” Austin says.

The specialized knowledge of Austin and his team has enabled them to help clients save money and avoid expensive errors. “Over the last 18 months, out of all of the new clients we’ve taken on, almost 80 percent of them had errors in their benefits plans,” Austin says. “People were insured that shouldn’t be, we found underwriting mistakes from insurance carriers, we found plan design mistakes, compliance mistakes – all of these hard-dollar costs to the customer.”

A lot of these errors happen because large insurance agencies are getting too big to look out for their clients, Austin says. “You have these large agencies that are getting so big that they’re missing things for their clients. I had a small business today, a small design firm, and the owner said ‘I can’t even call over there to have someone answer a question, never mind get me my rates.’” At Austin Benefits Group, team members are available 24/7 to answer questions throughout the year.

For another client, a small manufacturer in Detroit with just under 100 employees, “I saved them nearly $25,000 in their insurance renewal rates because of an error in their paper work,” Austin says. “How do you know you’re in good shape with your insurer? You need to check.”

In another instance, a large law firm was self-funded for their insurance and losing significant money because of the size of claims. Austin changed them over to being fully insured and saved them nearly $700,000.

For all the services that Austin Benefits Group provides to businesses, it also provides a full menu of services for individuals looking to buy their own coverage. That includes a detailed discussion to determine exactly how much and what type of coverage a person needs.

For individuals, whether self-employed or employed and making final choices on employer coverage, Austin encourages them to ask questions. “How much will you spend on medical care this year? What are your prescription drug costs? How much did you spend last year?” He then suggests that people look at different plan designs and compare premiums versus copayments and out of pocket costs.

People also need to remember the benefits of pre-tax vehicles like health savings accounts that can cover out-of-pocket costs. “With pre-tax savings, it’s the best coupon sitting right there in your benefits package – you’re getting 25 percent off depending on your tax rate,” Austin says.

Looking ahead to next year, Austin and his team remain focused on helping small- and mid-size businesses streamline their costs and increase their profitability. “I’ve had enough of sitting back and watching the small business guy take it from the insurance industry,” Austin says. “Enough is enough. We’re going to continue to do the right thing because that’s what we do. We do the right thing and we do it all the time.”

For business owners and individuals not sure if they have the right benefits plans in place, Austin invites them to call for a consultation.

Reach out at or call (888) 277-0077.