By Danielle Lehman
The fight for top talent rages on and it’s pushing employers to become more creative and unique with their benefits offerings. Companies are looking to provide more personalized and comprehensive products in hopes of attracting new employees and to better meet today’s diverse workforce needs.
Carriers are listening to what employers need to boost their benefits offerings and making changes when it comes to their voluntary products. As you start to think about next year’s sales approach, here are five trends and product offerings to watch for in the voluntary space to help you and your clients stand out from the rest.
- Expanded coverage
To stay competitive, some employers are expanding their product offerings to include products traditionally offered on a voluntary basis — including critical illness, accident and hospital indemnity insurance — as a noncontributory benefit for all employees. Employees receive the additional coverage that these products provide without the expense of purchasing the coverage on their own.
Employers that offer this type of added coverage could be especially attractive to millennials who are starting families and may not have the additional income to purchase these products themselves. These products not only pay benefits for the employee or spouse, but also can provide benefits for congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida, or even injuries children can incur playing sports. These products also can help with the expenses related to a hospital stay for the birth of a child.
Providing coverage for unexpected life events can be a key differentiator for clients who are attracting millennials with families, but they are just as important for other generations, like baby boomers, who may be seeing an uptick in their hospital visits due to unexpected medical conditions as they age.
- Product customization
Technology has transformed the way employees want and use insurance. People expect smart watches, speakers and TVs to be customized to their preferences. The same goes for benefits. Clients want benefits plans that can be customized to meet their organization’s culture, policies and workforce needs.
To meet this need, some carriers are creating specialized products to solve specific employer needs. Some carriers are willing to collaborate with clients and customize a plan or product, depending on the client’s situation. As some clients may not know that benefits could be customized, highlighting an example or connecting them with carriers that have this type of experience can help ensure they are designing benefits plans to best suit their employees.
- Integrated benefits platforms
For clients offering voluntary benefits, product education should be available for employees, especially during enrollment season. Many carriers offer decision support tools that can provide personalized communications to help employees better understand their benefit options and include examples of how coverage could help them.
When evaluating different decision support tools, some carriers have the technological capabilities to integrate with a client’s existing benefits administration platform. Hosting a carrier’s decision support tools on a client’s platform can provide employees with a central location to view important benefits information, make updates and review policy details.
This platform integration can be especially important during enrollment season. Decision support materials such as videos, claims examples and product details can be hosted on the client’s benefits administration portal to offer a consistent experience for employees when they’re choosing their benefits for 2019.
- Holistic underwriting
Another trend gaining momentum is leveraging voluntary insurance to aid with other product renewals, such as life and disability insurance. Some carriers offer an extended rate guarantee or reduction to a rate increase if voluntary products are included in the employer’s benefits package. Employers are able to offer the voluntary benefits at no additional cost to themselves while also receiving some rate relief on other in-force products. The employees also benefit by having the opportunity to purchase additional coverage to protect against the unexpected illness or accident.
Holistic underwriting also can ease the administration process for the client, by consolidating the billing and enrollment with one carrier.
- Convenience and simplicity
Some carriers’ voluntary benefits include a wellness benefit that pays an employee for receiving an annual preventive exam. Carriers are improving the claims process for these wellness benefits, especially when the screenings are included as part of an employer’s health fair.
Some carriers are allowing employers to submit a bulk list of employees who received the wellness screening during the health fair as the claims submission, rather than having employees submit their information separately. This can help drive employees to receive that ever-important wellness screening while also making it easier for them to receive the annual benefit.
As you consider new ways to ensure your clients’ benefits offerings are keeping pace with today’s workforce needs, be mindful of these five trends. These product features and offerings can help your clients create customized benefits plans that help them stay competitive in the fight for top talent and appeal to various generations in the workforce.
Danielle Lehman, senior voluntary product manager at The Standard, is responsible for the product strategy and development of the company’s supplemental product offerings. Danielle has strong ties to the voluntary industry with 10 years of experience developing voluntary products, including life, disability, critical illness, accident and hospital indemnity. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University and a master’s from Franklin University.