2018 Voluntary Benefits

Next up in California Broker’s popular survey series is voluntary benefits. We’ve selected a few key players in voluntary benefits to tell us more about what they offer. Special thanks to Aflac, Colonial Life, Guardian and UNUM for taking the time to communicate with Cal Broker readers! feature in June 2018 issue.

  1.   Please list the voluntary/employee-paid benefits that you offer along with the minimum group size for each offering.

Aflac: Aflac’s insurance policies, from accident/short-term disability to vision, offer direct-to-the-policyholder cash benefits, unless otherwise assigned, to help cover what other insurance does not.

Following is a list of individual policies available through Aflac:

  • Accident
    • Cancer/Specified-Disease
    • Critical Care & Recovery
    • Dental
    • Hospital Confinement Indemnity
    • Hospital Confinement Sickness Indemnity
    • Hospital Intensive Care
    • Juvenile Life
    • Life
    • Lump Sum Cancer
    • Lump Sum Critical Illness
    • Short-Term Disability
    • Vision
    *Certain policies may not be available in all states.

The following is a list of group plans available through Aflac Group:
• Accident

  • BenExtend®
    • Critical Illness
    • Dental
  • Term Life
    • Universal Life
  • Whole Life
    • Hospital Indemnity
    • Short-term Disability
  • Long-term Disability

We only ask that the client establish an account with us by completing and signing a Payroll Account Acknowledgement form and allowing three separate W-2 employees to apply for at least one of our policies. Aflac Group requires a minimum of 100 eligible lives and to establish group billing, there must be a minimum of 25payors. There may be additional requirements for certain group products.

Colonial Life: Colonial Life provides a wide array of voluntary benefits including short term disability, life, dental, accident, critical illness, and hospital confinement with offerings down to employer groups of 3 eligible lives.

Unum: Unum offers a full suite of employee paid products including voluntary term life, voluntary STD/LTD, whole life, accident, critical illness and hospital indemnity. We generally like to start with a minimum group size of 50 lives across all of our voluntary offerings.

  1.   Do you have any benefit offerings for employees that work fewer than 40 hours a week?

Aflac: Yes. All of our individual policies and group plans are available to full-time employees (as defined by the client) that work less than 40 hours per week. Please note the following:

  • Individual accident and short-term disability policies — Employees must work a minimum of 19 hours per week.
  • Group plans (all except disability) — Employees must work a minimum of 16 hours per week. Seasonal and temporary employees are not eligible for coverage.
  • Employees must work a minimum of 19 hours per week for group disability advantage.

Colonial Life: Yes, we offer flexible benefits solutions to employees that work both full-time and part-time down to 20 hours per week.

Guardian: Guardian’s Part-Time Nation report shares how beneficial it is for part-time employees to have access to employee benefits for financial security.  Employers reported that just over 82% of their workforce are full-time, permanent employees, while 13% are part-time employees (or work fewer than 35 hours) and 5% are independent contract workers. And this number is expected to rise due to the gig economy.

To address this growing need, Guardian does offer accident, cancer, critical illness and hospital indemnity coverage for those working less than 30 hours. For the remaining products we offer, we use 30 hours as the standard. We also recognize the gig economy is changing how people work and there are freelancers, contractors and even retirees who have a need for benefits. To meet this need, Guardian offers individual dental plans directly online on mydental.guardianlife.com with access to one of the largest dental networks in the country. Consumers simply can log on and select the dental plan that best fits their need. Finally, our dental benefit is also available on the health exchanges giving members access to a large national network and comprehensive dental coverage at a great value.

Unum: Yes, we see the part time, benefit eligible market as a growing and under served employee population. As such, most of our products are available for benefit eligible employees working 20 or more hours.

  1.   Do you offer flexible enrollment data, billing capabilities and processes that work with the employers’ systems instead of the other way around?

 Aflac: Yes.  Our technology-based services can help simplify the enrollment process for individual accounts through methods such as:

  • One-on-one laptop
    • Call center
    • Web self-service
    • A combination of the above

These services are provided to clients at no direct cost to them. Through our SmartApp Next Generation software, we can process a large number of policies quickly and accurately. Business submitted through our software, located on our agents’ laptop systems, can be issued without human intervention (typically resulting in a 24-hour turnaround time). Aflac has the capability to transmit billing data to an account in a variety of different ways. Aflac agents will work with clients to discuss available enrollment and billing options and determine which options will best meet their needs. Aflac also offers four integration paths for third-party platforms to help provide smoother integrations and a seamless enrollment experience. The four paths are case-by-case build, strategic master build, Aflac Ease Solutions, and Aflac Everwell Integrations.

Colonial Life: Yes. Colonial Life’s Harmony enrollment system is built to accommodate the many specialized needs businesses have for enrollments and data reporting. We can provide face-to-face enrollments at any business location and during any work shift. We also can provide employers with daily enrollment reporting that show which employees have been seen and which coverages they’re selecting. This reporting capability allows employers to assess the enrollment’s progress daily and make any necessary adjustments. Colonial Life also has several convenient electronic services for businesses that allow them to receive their bills, make payments and adjust their bills, as necessary, online. Colonial Life also offers additional flexible enrollment solutions, including the ability to integrate real time with other benefit administration and HRIS systems. This allows users to enroll in their core benefits on a vendor’s platform and seamlessly bridge to our Harmony enrollment system and elect their voluntary benefits. We also offer the option to build out our group products on another benefits administration or HRIS system for qualified customers.

Guardian: Yes, Guardian’s Sales Consultants have comprehensive in-depth knowledge of our Group product portfolio through an extensive product curriculum.  Sales Consultants are trained through a blended learning approach that includes self-study, online, virtual, and face-to-face training. Our Sales Consultants also have direct access to and support from our product business areas.  As Guardian’s products evolve, or new products are introduced, our Sales Consultants receive appropriate training, so they can continue to provide the best service to our clients.

Unum: We strive to work with employers throughout the enrollment and administration process so that their employees really understand the value of the benefits offering and how it works. To that end, we are as flexible as possible in terms of working with different systems and data requirements.

  1.   Do you offer the flexibility to conduct enrollment through one-on-one benefit sessions, group meetings, call centers and online self-enrollment?

Aflac: Yes. We have the flexibility to conduct enrollments through each of the methods listed above. However, the availability of each method is determined by the number of eligible employees.

Colonial Life: Yes. Colonial Life offers a full spectrum of benefits communication and enrollment options, including group meetings, one-to-one meetings, call centers, co-browsing and online self-enrollments. Our national team of local, professional benefit counselors uses the Harmony enrollment system to educate and communicate benefits to employees face-to-face so they can make better benefits decisions. For hard-to-reach employees, we can offer the same benefit communication and education experience by co-browsing with employees on the Internet, meeting through a call center or setting up online self-enrollments.

Guardian: Guardian values the deep relationships we have with our brokers and plan holders. In fact, 98% of Guardian customers are satisfied with their account service manager, which is something we are very proud of. The trainings we offer, along with the best practice-sharing we foster, ensure that we have experienced, dedicated account service teams and customized support. It’s common practice for our brokers and carrier reps to meet regularly, and we host webinars to educate them on latest trends from our Workplace Benefit Study as well as new products. Most important, we are a value-based company that focuses on doing the right thing for our customers.

Unum: Yes, we train our representatives and client managers to understand enrollment not one-size-fits-all, but it is essential. That’s why we provide and work with enrollment solutions across the spectrum from group meetings to enrollment platforms, all the way up to Ben Admin and full HRIS systems. I’m a proponent of including enrollment firms. They tend to bring valuable solutions and tools to our customers in helping to better educate employees.

  1.   Do you honor broker-of-record letters?

Aflac: Yes.

Colonial Life: Yes. Upon receipt, the new broker is placed on the account moving forward and receives renewals on in-force group product policies.

Unum: Yes, we do honor broker-of-record letters.

  1.   Do you offer simple and hassle-free account billing and payment processes?

Aflac: Yes. Our goal is to make billing and payment of premiums simple and hassle-free for your client, enabling them to easily reconcile and pay their invoice at their convenience. Aflac’s systems are flexible enough to accommodate a variety of billing methods and handle almost any type of billing layout, including summary billing for Aflac Group. Your client can also be billed electronically, via paper, self-bill, or your client can use our online payment portal – Aflac Business Services—for individual accounts.

Colonial Life: Yes. Colonial Life offers many electronic services for businesses that allow them to conduct transactions online such as receiving their bills, making payments and making any necessary billing adjustments.

Unum: We’re committed to creating a simple, hassle-free billing process, which is one reason we assign multiple specialists to each account, to handle both onboarding and billing. This valuable team of people ensures that the first bill is accurate and on time.

  1.   Does your billing system allow plan administrators to make online deletions and changes to their plan account?

Colonial Life: Yes, Colonial Life offers online billing capabilities. A plan administrator also has the ability to make changes online, as well as update employees’ coverage and general information through our secure website.

Unum: Our voluntary life and voluntary group disability products allow for easy online deletions and changes.

  1.   Does your billing/payroll deduction process make it easy for the employer to offer multiple products?

Aflac: Employers are looking for voluntary benefit options that are easy to administer. Aflac offers monthly recurring auto draft as a payment option to eligible accounts, making it easier for them to pay their invoices on time without logging in to make a payment, unless a change is needed. We also offer many other billing options designed to meet a variety of needs. Invoices for payroll deductions are provided after an employer makes them, which means they will never have to pay premiums out-of-pocket. Additionally, employers have access to Aflac Business Services, which allows them to manage their billing information faster and easier for individual accounts. They can view and update information, reconcile invoices, and submit service requests online, anytime.

Colonial Life: Yes. Colonial Life can enroll an employer’s core and voluntary benefits and provide the account with enrollment data on all employee elections in an easy-to-use spreadsheet. Employers can electronically submit this information through our secure website, and Colonial Life reconciles the bill to eliminate any additional work for the employer.

Unum: Unum administration absolutely makes it easy to offer multiple products. We know HR administrators are very in demand and their time is previous, so we make it easy to offer our full suite of products. We encourage employers and their advisors to be mindful of employee pay checks, as offering too many products at once may cause employees to spend a greater share of the wallet than intended.

  1.   Does your system offer online searches for employee policy status, coverage effective dates and policy/coverage type?

Colonial Life: Yes. The plan administration section of our website offers online searches for employee policy status, coverage effective dates and policy/coverage type.

  1. Do you offer downloadable claim forms?

Aflac: Yes. Individual policyholders may download claim forms from Aflac.com.  They also get tips on expediting forms and a direct link for sending a message to our Claims Department.  Aflac also offers SmartClaim, an online claim filing process for individual policies. Group certificate holders may download claim forms from aflacgroupinsurance.com.

Colonial Life: Yes. Policyholders and plan administrators can download and print Colonial Life claim forms on the company’s website at www.ColonialLife.com

Unum: Yes, we’ve worked hard to streamline the process and recently launched a claims app so that employees can submit medical information and track the status of the claim from the convenience of their smart phone.

  1. Do you require carrier reps. to have a comprehensive knowledge of all of the products they deal with?

Aflac: Yes. Training hits every facet of Aflac’s plans and sales cycle, such as field-tested scripts, brochures, one-on-one mentoring and online courses. Here are a few of the resources available:

  • New Associate Sales School (features comprehensive training sessions for new sales agents);
    • Ongoing training on new plans, services, and technology led by experienced trainers in a classroom setting;
    • Coaching and mentoring from sales managers and veteran agents, and;
    • Specialized training.

Colonial Life: Yes. Colonial Life has a 10,000-member national organization of benefits professionals. These individuals receive comprehensive product training through Colonial Life College on both voluntary products and the employer’s core benefits, at the employer’s discretion. One of our areas of expertise is helping employees better understand their benefits programs, uncover their unique insurance needs and select the coverage they need to protect themselves and their families from financial risk.

Unum: Unum invests a great deal in training its sales consultants and client managers to be experts in all things voluntary, including products, platforms, and enrollment strategies. This is a real strength for Unum, as our team is trained to work with brokers and employers to build a benefits package and enrollment approach that will serve employees well over the course of many years.

  1. How does your company support good working relationships between brokers and carrier reps?

Aflac: We know brokers are always looking for quality products to sell, and we believe Aflac’s products are the most relevant to today’s consumer. Aflac also offers complete insurance broker training, personalized support, sales materials, industry leading tools, and competitive compensation. We are committed to providing continuous training, to our brokers, on the latest news and information, and presentations on industry topics and continuing education. In addition, our internal insurance broker team is always available to answer questions and provide personalized support.

Our Aflac Broker Channel is a dedicated wholesale distribution channel with Broker Sales Professionals assigned to specific broker relationships with a goal of making it as easy as possible to do business with Aflac. We commit to be accurate, accessible and accountable in all that we do for our broker partners.

Colonial Life: Colonial Life places a high priority on working with brokers to help solve their clients’ benefit challenges. Colonial Life has regional broker marketing managers who are dedicated to strengthening broker relationships nationally and regionally, supporting national alliance partners and interacting with worksite specialist brokers.

Unum: The rep and broker relationship remains central to Unum. Our reps are focused on bringing great information and smart solutions to our brokers to help them grow their business and look great in front of clients. Among the solutions are benchmarking, analytics, marketing material, and industry specific case studies.

  1. Do you offer marketing materials that are easy to present and simple for clients to understand?

Aflac: Your client’s Aflac service team is dedicated to working with them to ensure that the marketing campaign they select best suits their employees’ needs. All benefit education material is provided at no direct cost to our clients, including posters, flyers, brochures, payroll stuffers, flash presentations, an account specific website, employer Website information, newsletter articles, and e-mails. 

Colonial Life: We make marketing materials available for our sales agents and brokers to use in educating customers and employees. Educating employees about the value of their benefits is at the core of what we do.

Guardian: Guardian understands that people will make better employee benefit choices and get the most value if they are given simple, easy-to-understand materials. Our digital site –  GuardianAnytime.com – is a valuable resource for our clients and houses an abundance of content that employers, employees, brokers, and providers can access. It has everything from information about our products and coverage to information about emerging trends and insights from our annual Workplace Benefits Study. Ultimately, we want our customers to engage with us – wherever and however they prefer – online, onsite, on and off exchanges.

Unum: Unum provides a wealth of easy-to-understand marketing materials targeted to brokers, employers and employees. We’ve invested in a role in each field office that is focused on delivering on-time and audience-specific marketing materials. The goal is to provide materials that enhance employer understanding of our office and improve the employee enrollment experience.

  1. How do you track the quality of the customer service you provide to employers? For example, do you set annual service goals and measure and report results?

Aflac: We set and measure service related goals including processing time and accuracy and customer satisfaction. Results are reported internally for continuous improvement purposes.

Colonial Life: Colonial Life provides superior customer service to all of its customer groups: brokers, employers and policyholders. The company sets internal annual customer service goals and results are measured quarterly. Colonial Life also works with independent research firms to conduct ongoing surveys of plan administrators and policyholders and reports those results externally through news releases. In addition, all employees who meet with a Colonial Life benefits counselor are asked to rate their one-to-one benefit counseling experience following their enrollment. Every account participating in the post-enrollment survey receives a report card with the survey results.

Unum: Unum is committed to delivering a best-in-the-business experience. That’s why we take time to regularly ask our customers for their feedback and measure our success and performance as a company against how they felt we did, not just our own internal measures. Every employee is focusing on creating a lasting client relationship.

  1. Do you have an established local sales and service team that can provide critical service in the same cities that the broker’s clients are in?

Aflac: Yes. Aflac is represented by more than 70,000 licensed independent sales agents and brokers throughout the United States. Our certified enrollers are available to service multi-location accounts and we have a national sales coordinator team to manage these relationships.  In addition, our Broker Sales Professionals are strategically located throughout the United States to provide local support and presence.

Colonial Life: Colonial Life has more than 45 territory offices across the country and a national team of 10,000 sales professionals who provide local enrollment support and service for its broker partners’ clients. Many of the company’s accounts have thousands of employees in dozens or even hundreds of different locations across the country. Colonial Life’s sales representatives provide employers with valuable services at no direct cost, such as free dependent verification, WellCard discount program, wellness benefits communication and more. Colonial Life benefits counselors can meet with employees at each location and conduct individual counseling sessions with them. Because the benefits counselors are local, they can be on hand to help out with next year’s enrollment and any ongoing service needs. The goal is for the company’s benefits counselors to build strong relationships with employees in the account.

Unum: Our field offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego give our teams broad reach across all of California. We have more than 70 field-facing employees in California that are committed to delivering for our customers.

  1. Do you have both a sales rep and a service rep? (The sales rep helps the broker market and position products, manage blocks of business, and develop target markets. The service rep helps implement and fulfill account enrollment.)

Aflac: Yes. We have both dedicated sales and support teams to help our broker partners.

Colonial Life: Yes. Colonial Life’s national team of sales professionals has specialized roles they perform during the enrollment process. Sales professionals work with brokers and their clients to help develop voluntary benefit strategies that will help clients’ solve their benefit challenges. Account coordinators help manage the enrollment logistics and report. And benefits counselors meet individually with all employees to educate them on their benefits, help uncover any unmet needs and select insurance plans to meet those needs.

Unum: We have both sales consultants and client managers. The Sales Consultant provides a high-level strategy with brokers to uncover opportunities and provide solutions. The Client Manager takes on the role of strategist and solutions provider in working with clients day-to-day. Along with our internal team, both roles are committed to executing on the enrollment and case setup.

  1. Do you specialize in voluntary benefits?

Aflac: Yes. Aflac is a leader in guaranteed-renewable insurance policies sold on a voluntary basis that pay cash benefits directly to policyholders, unless otherwise assigned. With a broad range of policies and value-added services, Aflac’s offerings suit virtually every business size and type. From three employees to 30,000, Aflac can fit easily within any benefits package. Many times in the voluntary insurance business, companies tend to use the same approach to market similar benefits. Aflac is different. We also back our plans up with the following:

  • Innovative marketing campaigns.
    • Strong financial stability.
    • Brand recognition.
    • A solid company reputation.
    • Industry recognized and rewarded claims and customer service.

Colonial Life: Yes. When Colonial Life was founded in 1939, it sold accidental death coverage to individuals. In fact, the company pioneered the concept of offering voluntary benefits at the worksite in the 1950s. Colonial Life has always marketed only voluntary benefits, and during the 79  years it has been in business, the company has developed strong expertise and experience in the voluntary benefits industry.

Unum: Yes, Unum’s leading position in the market highlights our depth of expertise in voluntary benefits. The customer demand for voluntary benefits done right continues to grow in California, and our teams are committed to staying ahead of the market.