When employees seek protection in the event of a health crisis or tragic event, as a broker your employer clients look to you as a trusted advisor to help offer the best solutions. However, many brokers could be missing out when it comes to offering voluntary benefits, especially among small to mid-size employer groups. There is ample opportunity to engage with these employers, but some common setbacks can steer brokers away from exploring them further. As noted in the BenefitsPro and Eastbridge May 2018 report, Brokers and Voluntary Benefits—The Competition Intensifies, brokers indicated that in order to be more successful they need more time to sell voluntary, more knowledge about carriers and their offerings, and more assurances regarding administrative and billing capabilities. The good news is there’s a solution to help brokers grow their businesses and address these needs, and that’s by building partnerships with voluntary benefit enrollment firms.
But first, why are voluntary benefits important? Some of the most common reasons employers offer voluntary products is to address the following needs among their employees:
- Financial well-being
- Interest in the product
- Gaps in their plan, and more benefit options
- For groups typically with 100 or more employees, employers find great value in providing a voluntary benefits solution because it:
- Replaces a benefit they used to offer and contribute to;
- Offers a cost savings for the company;
- Reduces 401(k) and 403(b) loans and withdrawals; and,
- Aids in recruiting and retaining employees.
So, what’s currently in demand on a voluntary basis? Employers are most interested in offering long term care, critical illness, cancer, term life, and hospital indemnity/supplemental products. As pointed out in Eastbridge’s MarketVisionTM—The Employer Viewpoint May 2019 report, 64 percent of employers offer one to three voluntary products to their employees, which supplements coverage employers already have with their existing health insurance plans. But, employers with more than 50 employees are much more likely to consider adding a new voluntary benefit, move certain benefits to voluntary or shift more costs of group plans to employees.
Brokers like yourself might be looking for additional support in order to provide enhanced guidance and resources to your clients. It could be beneficial to connect with an intermediary who can assist and bring additional value to your clients. Intermediaries can operate as partners to improve the client experience, allowing you to expand your business and grow your client relationships.
A non-traditional enrollment service manages enrollments on behalf of broker clients and offers voluntary benefits to employees during face-to-face meetings. In many cases, employers with less than 1,000 employees prefer allowing a one-to-one meeting with a professional enroller compared to those with 1,000+ employees. A non-traditional enrollment service is also uniquely qualified to work cases whose size, location, or working conditions make them less desirable to traditional enrollers. If variables like these have made it difficult to work with an employer group, a non-traditional firm would provide much more flexibility. On top of that, it can help alleviate some of the burden in feeling like you have to be a “voluntary benefits product expert.” So it’s not necessary to research a slew of products excessively—that’s the enrollers job. A non-traditional enrollment service can even offer a benefits platform that makes benefits administration easy while it provides for online enrollment if needed. Plus, custom websites can be created to offer a single access point for enrollment, plan documents, forms, etc.
When handling future voluntary enrollments, larger employer groups with 1,000+ employees favor working with their broker in conjunction with an enrollment firm, while groups with 100 or less employees would rather work directly with a broker as the main resource for their voluntary enrollments. So, if brokers can cultivate a partnership with an enrollment firm to support them through the enrollment process, it’s a win-win for any group—no matter the size.
To assist your clients in offering the right coverage options to their employees, it’s helpful to guide their employees on understanding the basics about voluntary benefits and their choices:
- Pricing. Could cost savings be involved for the employer, the employees, or both? Make sure they’re informed on any potential savings to ensure they are satisfied with their experience. By doing this, you’ll develop a trusting relationship which could result in repeat business.Product function. With so many choices to consider, it can be confusing for employers to understand the differences between products and how these different plans could affect their employees.
- Product function. With so many choices to consider, it can be confusing for employers to understand the differences between products and how these different plans could affect their employees.
- Liabilities. As a broker, it’s important to breakdown any potential financial liabilities your client or their employees may have. Offering suggestions on how to best budget and prepare for those financial risks would be valuable.
Non-traditional intermediaries can simplify this process by performing enrollments one-on-one where employees can choose the products that best fit their needs. They should use a professional, consistent and repeatable enrollment methodology to maximize success and ensure that employees understand their options full-circle.
Understanding employee generational makeup
When partnering with a non-traditional enrollment service employers should receive attentive service paired with high-quality products—meanwhile, it frees you up to focus on nurturing your client relationships.
For example, if your client’s employees skew older in age, they might have a stronger knowledge base from life experience that has built a perception around certain insurance products. Boomers might know the basics about supplemental health and life insurance products, but it’s still important to set a foundation, build their trust and communicate as clearly as you can. As Boomers get closer to retirement, it’s essential they prepare for any potential financial risks or loss of life. This can give them peace of mind to protect their loved ones or leave a legacy.
When working with Gen-X employees, many of whom value both independence and work-life balance, changing jobs could be a common occurrence. So providing these individuals the opportunity to purchase supplemental and voluntary products that can be convertible or portable, with favorable pricing and underwriting conditions, may be seen as extremely valuable.
If employees are younger (more Gen-Y in nature), they may be reaching important life milestones such as a career transition, getting married, building a family or purchasing a home. With all of these exciting events employees might seek even more advice in order to make informed confident decisions. These individuals also appreciate work flexibility and work-life balance, but also strongly value their independence along with being highly educated and tech-savvy. Hence, supplemental insurance products can assure employees that they’re financially sound and secure based on their own choosing, during times of need.
You should match your communication efforts and tailor product recommendations to fit employees’ lifestyles, needs and future changes. An enrollment solutions partnership can set the tone and build trust with your clients showing that you understand their goals and their employees’ needs for their current or future stages of life.
From both an employer and employee perspective, it benefits all parties to make sure clients are educated and aware of additional benefit options that can be offered to their employees. There are many ways clients can leverage these cost savings to secure peace of mind for their workforce. Whether you utilize an enrollment partner, or enhance your client relations’ efforts with these best practices, it’s never too late to meet with your clients to help their employees plan for the unexpected and protect their financial future.