June 28, 2018 | By Scott Wooldridge | BenefitsPRO
In the first of a three-part series, we explore how voluntary benefits have become an important part of a complete benefit package.
Voluntary benefits have become one of the biggest stories in the brokerage world in recent years. With an expanding economy driving demand for workers, employers have needed the flexibility and added coverage that voluntary benefits provide. The growth of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), with their high deductibles, have also led to voluntary benefit plans that help with gaps in medical insurance coverage.
But another factor has been the growth of enrollment and administrative tools, including online platforms, which have helped make these products easier to manage and understand.
In this three-part series, we will explore how voluntary benefits have become an important part of a complete benefit package, how brokers can expand their voluntary benefits offerings, and how to find the best fit between product, carrier and client.
Voluntary benefits—the early years
The move toward nearly universal voluntary benefits offerings came about rather quickly, but experts remember when those products were considered a specialty insurance offering. Marty Traynor, senior vice president of voluntary benefits and workplace solutions at Mutual of Omaha, notes that at one point, voluntary benefits were considered separate from employer-sponsored benefits. “There’s been a trend toward overall benefit planning by employers,” he says. “In today’s marketplace, what we see is overall planning that encompasses both employer-paid or -sponsored plans, and voluntary plans, which employees paid for. So there’s been historically a separation of voluntary from other core benefits. But today, employers and their advisors are looking at it as a seamless benefit package.”