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Dependent verification customer success story: Brinker International

About Brinker International

  • Headquarters: Dallas TX
  • Industry: Hospitality
  • Revenue: $3.15 billion
  • More than 100,000 employees worldwide

How Brinker International realized over $1M in savings with Alight’s Dependent Verification Services

Brinker International, one of the world’s leading casual dining restaurant companies, found it increasingly difficult to offer a competitive and comprehensive benefits program to its team members, and was looking for immediate and ongoing cost savings. Read on to learn how Alight addressed these challenges with dependent verification services.

Brinker’s partnership with Alight’s Dependent Verification Services has been a huge win for us […] going above and beyond in their interactions with our team members and for having such a huge impact on our plan costs.

Lara Kent
Senior Benefits Manager, Brinker International

Brinker’s situation

One of the world’s leading casual dining restaurant companies, Brinker International truly believes in business decisions that balance the interests of both the company and its team members. Brinker has over 1,600 friendly and hospitable restaurants nationwide, such as Maggiano’s and Chili’s, where an immediate greeting at the door shows the company’s “power of welcome”.

With health care costs rising, Brinker found it increasingly difficult to offer a competitive and comprehensive benefits program to its team members, and was looking for immediate and ongoing cost savings. To address these challenges, Alight recommended Plan-Guard®, Alight’s ongoing dependent verification service. Plan-Guard verifies eligibility when a new dependent enrolls in coverage, ensuring all newly added dependents are truly eligible for coverage. By partnering with Alight, an independent third-party, Brinker preserved their relationship with their team members, especially when handling sensitive eligibility determinations.

Brinker needed to:

  • Demonstrate financial responsibility
  • Reduce compliance risk
  • Help keep benefit premiums low

Alight’s approach to dependent verification

Central to the verification process was a customized communications campaign. Alight sent multiple communications to team members to announce, educate and remind team members of the dependent audit.

Alight also partnered with Brinker’s internal communication efforts to ensure all team members were notified and educated before the verification process began. Brinker’s executives were first on the list so they could demonstrate their support as the message made its way through the rest of the company. “We prepared our team members well that by the time the first letter from Alight came requesting documents we got very few questions,” said Lara Kent, Senior Benefits Manager at Brinker.

Alight’s eligibility advocates ensured Brinker team members received superior support throughout the verification process. The advocates proactively reached out to team members that showed signs of needing assistance with the audit and supported those team members until their audit was complete.

Alight provided Brinker’s benefits team with end-to-end support. Brinker was initially concerned about the additional workload implementing dependent verification may bring, but quickly recognized with Alight’s seamless solution and dependent verification expertise, they were freed to focus on other initiatives.

Brinker’s results and Alight’s impact

Alight launched Brinker’s ongoing dependent verification service in late 2009 and it did not take long for Brinker to see a significant cost avoidance and return on investment. In 2010, Alight performed a comprehensive audit, Plan-Smart®, of Brinker’s nearly 8,000 health plan dependents.

Brinker was so impressed with Alight’s top-notch Dependent Verification Services and outstanding partnership that they presented Alight with their 2011 Supplier of the Year Award and renewed their contract, which continues today.

The result was huge! We estimated their first year savings at over $1.7 million.

Melissa Newman
Alight’s Client Manager for Brinker International


Alight’s Dependent Verification facts

5 – 7%
Average ineligibility rates in a comprehensive audit
10 – 14%
Average ineligibility rates in an ongoing verification
Average response rate to Alight's proven communication campaign
of our clients are referenceable

Dependent verification: client experience

Lara Kent, Senior Benefits Manager at Brinker International, shares her dependent verification experience.

Why did Brinker engage in dependent verification?

Lara Kent: In early 2009, Brinker was looking for plan cost savings for the next fiscal year without cost shifting to our team members. Many companies had already started utilizing dependent verification and they were consistently getting a high ROI. In addition to the immediate cost savings, we knew that an ongoing verification process would ensure we were meeting our fiduciary responsibility as a self-funded plan sponsor.


What challenges did you face in getting approval for a dependent verification audit?

Lara: Our biggest challenge in getting approval was getting past the “big brother” perception. Brinker has a very strong culture and we strive to balance the needs of our team members with the needs of the company. In the end, the decision to move forward was made based on the expected cost savings and the confidence that Alight could implement a dependent verification process with little to no disruption for our team members.


What was your stakeholder communication like?

Lara: Our communication plan was pretty extensive. We started at the top by notifying our executives and gave them information on why we were implementing a dependent verification process and a high level timeline. Then we talked about it in our company newsletter and mailed a letter to the home address of all team members who would be asked to provide documentation. We stressed the need to reduce costs and talked about the fact that ineligible dependents on the plan cost all team members more. We prepared our team members well so by the time the first letter came from Alight requesting documents, we got very few questions. This process worked well and I highly recommend announcing the new process internally first.


Initially, what were your most sensitive areas of focus and concern?

Lara: I was most concerned about the additional workload this type of project would have on my team. In the end, my team was completely unaffected. The service provided by the Alight call center, the ease of document submission and the communications that are triggered after each submission made for a completely seamless process.


What effort is required to maintain Plan-Guard ongoing dependent verification? Is it more or less than you expected?

Lara: Maintaining Plan-Guard is simple. We send automated weekly files to Alight and they send us reports back on a weekly basis. We have one person who is dedicated to reviewing the reports we get and she spends less than 30 minutes per week making sure we remove ineligible dependents from coverage.


What was the overall experience from your eyes?

Lara: Alight is constantly evolving to keep up with changing laws and new technology and our Client Manager, Melissa, is top notch. The employer web portal is fantastic and allows us to answer questions from team members and research past verifications. Alight’s Dependent Verification Services won our coveted Supplier of the Year Award for going above and beyond in their interactions with our team members and for having such a huge impact on our plan costs.


Why Alight?

With over 800 completed one-time audits and more than 8 million dependents audited to date, Alight Solutions is the industry leader in dependent eligibility verification. Alight’s Plan-Smart service is a one-time dependent eligibility verification audit that ensures qualified, eligible dependents maintain access to benefits and removes ineligible dependents from coverage as soon as possible. Employers can preserve the integrity of their benefits plan with Plan-Guard, Alight’s ongoing service that verifies eligibility as new dependents enroll in coverage. Alight’s dependent verification clients include public, private, and not-for-profit organizations, as well as large governments and more than 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

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