Author Archives: Steve Aldrich

Disability Insurance: Definition, Why You Need It and How to Get It

Disability insurance is an important component of your overall financial planning efforts. You are more likely to become disabled than to die during your working years, disability insurance can help ensure that you can maintain your lifestyle.

March 22, 2019 | By Roger Wohlner – The Street

Disability insurance should be a key part of your overall financial planning. Insurance is designed to cover losses that are too big to cover with your own out-of-pocket funds. Life insurance provides a benefit to your beneficiaries should you die. Health insurance covers the cost of medical care should you or your family need it. No less important is disability insurance that covers lost income in the event that you are unable to work due to a disabling injury or illness.

What Is Disability Insurance?

Disability insurance could also be called “income insurance.” Disability insurance provides an income stream in the event that you are unable to work for periods of time ranging from short-term to long-term. Disability insurance differs from other forms of insurance like medical or life insurance in that it is specifically designed to replace a portion of your income in the event that you are unable to work for a period of time due to an illness or an injury.

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Life insurance: Do you know what to look for?

Learning more about permanent life options may be a point of differentiation with your employer clients.

March 21, 2019 | By Bonnie Brazzell and Nick Rockwell – BenefitsPro

Recent Eastbridge research has found that while just over half of carriers offer a universal life/whole life (UL/WL) product today, almost a quarter of carriers see UL/WL as a growth product for the industry over the next few years. In addition, UL/WL was the top product (tied with hospital indemnity) listed as most likely to be added to carriers’ voluntary portfolios in the next two years.

Despite carrier investment in developing and enhancing permanent life products, most brokers did not include UL/WL in their top five most frequently sold products. Our joint BenefitsPRO/Eastbridge survey found that four of the top five most frequently sold products are the same for benefit brokers and voluntary brokers. With such similar portfolios, learning more about permanent life options may be a point of differentiation with your employer clients.

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10 tips for selling voluntary and new products

As you work with employers to help them expand their offerings and put together a best-in-class benefits plan, here are 10 tips to keep in mind.

March 6, 2019 | By BenefitsPRO Editors

Have you heard about the labor market? It’s hot, and employers are struggling to attract and keep top talent. This past year saw a significant change in employers’ benefits strategies, as their top priority shifted from controlling costs to competing for talent.

Health insurance, paid time off and flex scheduling continue to be major draws for candidates, but employers are also sweetening the pot with an array of voluntary benefits. The cherry on top might be the ease of access and use of these benefits, making a good benefits administration platform a must.

As you work with employers to help them expand their offerings and put together a best-in-class benefits plan, here are 10 tips to keep in mind.

1. The most successful brokers have long ago cast aside the assumption that employers are not interested in voluntary and have been tirelessly working to understand and align themselves towards employers’ most pressing voluntary-oriented needs. — Bonnie Brazzell, Eastbridge Consulting Group

2. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid): Negotiate high guaranteed-issue amounts for voluntary benefits. Then, limit choice to those G.I. options. Employees want simplicity in enrolling and employers want a streamlined process. — Kevin Kennedy, TriBen Insurance

3. When voluntary benefit programs are positioned as an integral part of the employee benefit experience, employees are more likely to understand the value. Communicate that voluntary benefits can be an integral part of a “total rewards package.” — Peter Marcia, YouDecide

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Let’s stop taking Life for granted

We tend to treat group term life insurance as a commodity, focusing on price instead of employee needs.

February 14, 2019 | By Marty Traynor – BenefitsPro

Group life insurance is one of the most common benefits offered by employers. When asked about the importance of benefits in a 2018 LIMRA study, employees rated life insurance only behind medical benefits, paid vacation and retirement plans. In the same study, a survey of employers indicated they think employees rank life insurance lower than they do. Perhaps these employers are taking life for granted.

Group life insurance doesn’t come across as a very exciting product, partly because it’s so familiar to employers and employees. Employers know employees want to provide financial security to loved ones. Basic group life insurance provides sufficient money to cover basic final expenses. Providing for dependents’ future financial security expands the need and amplifies the amount of necessary coverage. That’s where term and permanent voluntary life insurance provides a great solution.

It seems unlikely that group life is being overlooked, but let’s look at the facts:

• In a recent LIMRA study, 17 percent of employers indicated they plan to drop group life insurance as a benefit. The overall number offering group life insurance was down 14 percent between 2006 and the 2018 study.

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Voluntary Benefits: Getting the Most Out of Tech

‘A major appeal of voluntary benefits is the increased sophistication of #HRTech that can be used for payroll contributions, communications and enrollments.’ -Peter Marcia, @YouDecideCEO #HR

January 29, 2019 | By YouDecide CEO Peter Marcia – for The HCM Technology Report

Most benefits managers in the industry are exhaling a collective sigh of relief now that open enrollment is complete and the first deductions with the new benefit amounts have been applied without a hitch (we hope).

Now, ready or not, it’s time to start thinking about 2020 open enrollment. Escalating healthcare costs and increasing insurance gaps will again catapult voluntary benefits to the forefront.

Voluntary benefits help complement a total rewards plan and fill essential gaps caused by cuts in traditional benefit programs. As with core medical programs, employers can get better underwriting, pricing and plan designs than what an employee would typically find on the individual market. A major appeal of voluntary benefits is the increased sophistication of technology that can be used for payroll contributions, communications and enrollments.

During the 2019 open enrollment cycle, employers used technology in new ways to administer and communicate their voluntary benefits. We expect the “shift toward voluntary benefit delivery” to accelerate as carrier partners upgrade technology platforms, product portfolios, underwriting models, and communications methods to meet the needs of employers.

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Why voluntary benefits are good for employers

Products like accident insurance may help your clients get, and keep, the best workers.

January 8, 2019 | By Andy Glaub – BenefitsPro

Following eight years of job growth, the U.S. unemployment rate hit a nearly five-decade low in September, according to a recent U.S. Department of Labor jobs report. While this is good news for the U.S. economy, it suggests there is a smaller pool of active job-seekers and a high demand for workers.

As a result, companies are facing fierce competition when it comes to winning over new talent. While some companies are raising wages to woo job candidates, many companies cannot afford to do so. However, boosting benefits is another effective strategy for not only winning new talent, but keeping talent around. In fact, 55 percent of the 2,000 employees surveyed for the 2018 Aflac WorkForces Report said they would be at least somewhat likely to accept a job offer with slightly lower compensation but better benefits options. Additionally, more than one-third of employees said an improved benefits package would help keep them in their current job.

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Short-Term Health Plans Highly Profitable for Brokers and Insurers

December 21, 2018 | By Julie Appleby – Kaiser Health News

Sure, they’re less expensive for consumers, but short-term health policies have another side: They’re highly profitable for insurers and offer hefty sales commissions.

Driven by rising premiums for Affordable Care Act plans, interest in short-term insurance is growing, boosted by Trump administration actions to ease Obama-era restrictions and possibly make federal subsidies available to consumers to purchase them.

That’s good news for brokers, who often see commissions on such policies hit 20 percent or more.

On a policy costing $200 a month, for example, that could translate to a $40 payment each month. By contrast, ACA plan commissions, which are often flat dollar amounts rather than a percentage of premium, can range from zero to $20 per enrollee per month.

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Inadequate workplace benefits cause employees to jump ship

December 7, 2018 | By Terri Williams – MultiBriefs

Employee benefits might be more important than you think. Smart companies are using them to attract and retain talent, and employees indicate that they prefer workplace benefits over a salary increase.
A report by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) reveals that by a margin of 4 to 1, American workers favor workplace benefits over an increase in salary.

According to a Randstad US report, 61 percent of employees say a strong benefits and perks package is the most important factor when considering job offers — and 61 percent would be willing to accept a lower salary if the company offered a great benefits package. And according to that study, 55 percent have actually left jobs because they found better benefits or perks elsewhere.
Perhaps that’s why a recent Gallagher report reveals that 45 percent of employers chose not to increase their employees’ costs for healthcare benefits.

So, why are benefits so important to employees, and which benefits do employees want?

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2019 Forecast: 5 Trends to Expect in Voluntary Benefits

November 27, 2018 | By Elizabeth Halkos – Purchasing Power, LLC

ATLANTA, Nov. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — In today’s tight job market with employers vying to recruit and retain top talent, it’s no surprise that voluntary benefits are now a “must-have” in the employee benefits package. In addition to explosive growth in the range of available voluntary benefits in recent years, their popularity among employees is reaching new heights as well.

“Gone are the days where voluntary benefits are simply a “nice-extra” for employee benefits. In today’s modern workplace with a diverse, multigenerational workforce that has varying characteristics, lifestyles and preferences, employers can no longer provide one-size-fits-all benefits even in the voluntary arena,” said Purchasing Power® Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Halkos. “A broad benefits package positions a business as a company that listens, cares and is worth working for. Voluntary benefits offer employees a variety of specialized benefits so they can choose the ones they want,” she added.

Whether it’s benefits that supplement their “core” benefits such as health, life and disability insurance, or the plethora of others that range from identify theft protection to pet insurance to employee purchase programs and even student loan refinancing arrangements and egg harvesting, voluntary benefits are a cost-effective method for employers to provide a broad benefits package that give employees options. “And that’s important,” Halkos continued, “because only 60 percent of employees believe their employer’s benefit plans are competitive with those offered by other organizations, according to the PwC 2018 Employee Financial Wellness Survey.”

What’s ahead in 2019 for voluntary benefits? Here are Halkos’ predictions on the trends for next year.

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How to handle gaps in health insurance coverage

October 15, 2018 | By Robert Grubka | CNBC StraightTalk

  • Open enrollment for employer benefits begins at many companies each fall.
  • This period is a good time to consider additional benefits to help cover the gaps in health insurance coverage.
  • Consider factors such as costs and your age, familiarize yourself with the rules of the coverage you’re considering, and avail yourself of all the tools your employer provides.

Many companies in the next few weeks will offer employees a chance to review and enroll in workplace benefits for the following year. During this open-enrollment period, many people focus on their health insurance, which makes perfect sense.

Insurance offers financial backing for annual wellness doctor visits or visits to the hospital if you get sick or injured. Some employers might also offer additional benefits that can help cover some of the unexpected costs not covered under a specific health insurance plan.

The financial impact from uncovered health-care expenses can be a shock and even affect a person’s financial wellness. But there are ways to alleviate the stress.

Anyone can be injured or become sick unexpectedly. Accidents, sports injuries and diagnoses of serious illnesses are common, and the costs can add up. An average family has more than $4,500 in out-of-pocket medical costs each year, according to 2017 Milliman’s Medical Index.

Many people can’t absorb that cost. A recent study by the Urban Institute found that 4 in 10 Americans are struggling to pay for basic needs, such as groceries or housing. Unexpected costs can compound that and also derail retirement planning.

Your company’s annual benefits open-enrollment period is a good time to consider additional benefits to help you cover the gaps in health insurance coverage.

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