By Ric Joyner
I have received several calls in the last month from clients and past clients. They all had the same story. The DOL was in auditing, and was looking for several items such as plan documents, corporate resolutions, amendments, SPDs, communication pieces for employees, and many other documents. We were able to provide these, but now I am hearing stories from agents regarding other DOL audits that are not going as well because vendors are not cooperating with documentation.
Here are examples of several emails received from concerned brokers:
“I too went through an audit with a client a few months ago but although grueling, I found the DOL to be very helpful in the matter. I did find some of the areas of concern you had with the providers of services not maintaining or sending copies of the proper notices. But after time and much effort we were able to get some of these issues resolved favorably.
Just as a heads up, I was advised by DOL that they are and plan on conducting an extensive amount of audits of all size groups. You are definitely not alone…
Agent in California”
Subject: Dept. of Labor Audit
I’m not sure how many of you have actually had one of your clients subjected to a “Field Audit” by the DOL, but I assure you, they DO happen, and they are grueling! One of my accounts with 20-25 employees received notice about 4 weeks ago and completed the audit this morning.
Interesting findings were as follows:
(Large Insurer) did not seem to be able to produce the documents they asked for. They were very attentive and responsive, I’m just not sure they send out all of the notifications the DOL seems to think they should be.
My office started contacting (Large Payroll and COBRA provider) immediately after our client was notified of the audit. XXXXXXX as of today DID NOT provide copies of letters sent to employees. Including initial notification and qualifying event notices. They did send a spreadsheet listing who they had sent notices to, but clearly, the documentation I always expected did not seem readily available! I was shocked! So was my client. They had hired XXXXXXX on my advice when they became obligated to comply with COBRA, when I moved the group to (Large Insurer), they started picking up the tab for the service.
I am posting this information for 2 reasons:
First, because I was curious if others had experienced similar problems when clients were subjected to these audits.
Second, to warn my fellow B2B members/participants this CAN happen to your clients. If it happens to be one that has not embraced the responsibility of administering COBRA, you as the agent will have fingers pointing at you!
Agent in LA
My advice is to take the DOL seriously and “get your ducks in a row”.