Author Archives: Steve Aldrich

LIMRA: Employers look to digital tools to help administer voluntary benefits

April 09, 2021 | By LIMRA Industry Trends | BenefitsPRO

Health care costs have been on the rise over the past decade. In response, some employers have scaled back on their health insurance offerings, at times leaving gaps in coverage.

As a result, the voluntary benefits market, where employees pay the premiums, has become more popular among employers.

These voluntary benefits programs, however, have underlying costs to employers, including those related to implementation and administration. Digital tools can help employers reduce these costs by simplifying operations and improving efficiency.

A LIMRA survey looked at how employers are using digital tools to implement and administer voluntary benefits. When it comes to employers, 93% report access to a digital tool for online billing (most often available digital tool). The ability to file bulk wellness claims is the least used digital tool, though 71% of employers report access to this capability.

“Employers want to simplify processes such as plan administration and billing, and technology is key to meeting these goals,” says Mary Lesch, Ph.D., associate research director, Workplace Benefits Research.

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A new day is dawning for employee benefits: Are brokers prepared?

March 11, 2021 | By Craig Stephens – BenefitsPRO

Brokers who want to position themselves as a trusted advisor going forward need a partner that covers these three bases solidly and expertly.

If you’re a broker in the fiercely competitive world of employee benefits today who wants to keep your current business, expand wallet share, and gain new clients, you need to take a hard look at how the employee-centric model for benefits administration technology and service is dramatically gaining traction.

Increasingly, the trend is employers (and your competition) relying on fewer and more comprehensive partners to deliver the administration, benefits, and technology that the new benefits business model demands. They’re looking to meet three critical needs:

  • A modernized user experience (for the employee and the benefits administrator)
  • A full array of benefits that care for and nourish the whole employee — and experienced support that employers and employees are demanding around those benefits
  • Efficient, employee-specific communication that drives employee understanding and appreciation, engagement, and ROI

A quick explanation of the new benefits model

HR systems are being reimagined from the perspective of the needs of the employee, rather than the needs of medical claims payors and HR processes. They’ve also moved away from focusing so much on core medical, dental, and vision benefits.

Yes, this transformation has been evolving for several years, but now it’s caught fire and isn’t going to change direction. The COVID-19 pandemic made employers and employees much more focused on benefits needs that are more holistic and simpler to access.

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Voluntary products and processes

February 19, 2021 | By Marty Traynor – BenefitsPRO

As the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of the workplace, the interplay of our products and services has even more value.

It’s impossible to separate the products we market from the processes that support them. And the events of 2020 underscore how important our products and processes are to one another.

Consider life insurance. While life insurance is generally familiar to everyone, the market outside of voluntary benefits has been stagnant. Studies show that less than half of Americans own the life insurance they need. Why is this true, in light of the familiarity people have with the concept? LIMRA studies find that many people become “stuck shoppers.” They simply don’t know how to make a decision about life insurance; they don’t understand the need, don’t know how much they should buy, what type to buy or where to buy it.

The process in the traditional individual life insurance market offers little support. By contrast, when employers offer a group plan, they nearly always remind employees that a base of group term life often doesn’t provide enough protection. Voluntary life insurance options are available from many employers and support employees through a strong, simple process.

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COVID-19 Continues To Drive Voluntary Benefit Trends

January 31, 2021 | By Mike Wilbert – InsuranceNewsNet

You don’t have to look into a crystal ball to realize that predicting voluntary benefit trends for 2021 will be heavily affected by COVID-19. The pandemic has changed our lives and our work, and likewise the employee benefits landscape.

Voluntary Benefits Step To The Forefront

Because they can address many of the specific needs that employees have as they continue to struggle with and overcome pandemic challenges, voluntary benefits have now taken on a significantly more important role.

In recent years, voluntary benefits have seen more popularity as the products themselves have become more diversified and appealing to the multiple generations in the workplace. But then voluntary benefits have always been a win-win for employers and employees. For employers they are an excellent recruiting and retention tool, while employees see voluntary benefits as an opportunity to choose benefits that they need or want.

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Critical contract conversations

December 10, 2020 | By Jim McGovern – BenefitsPro

Are you overlooking these six disability-coverage priorities?

Traditional disability income insurance is one of the best ways your clients can provide paycheck protection. For a benefit that makes up about 1 percent of an employer’s total compensation expenses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s a significant driver of a business’ employee recruitment and retention.

For employees, voluntary disability insurance pays for itself in peace of mind. By partially replacing income in the event of an injury or illness that prevents them from working, employees can rest easy knowing they can take care of their financial obligations and their family.

When it’s time to put together the policy provisions within either a traditional or voluntary insurance contract, little things that mean the most to the employees can easily get overlooked. More often than not, the critical areas of a disability contract aren’t prioritized during review, including questions about the elimination period(s), benefits amount received if disabled, or who is eligible for the benefit.

These are important concerns. In my experience, there are six complex and easily misunderstood considerations that insurance brokers and their clients need to review with a critical eye. By giving these six areas special attention, you can prevent surprises when a claim is made.

The preX part of the equation

While most employees who opt into disability coverage will be added to the plan, not everyone is going to be eligible. That’s why pre-existing conditions (PreX) must be part of the contract conversation, for the sake of fairness to employer and employee alike.

PreX is the exclusion of a condition that ultimately results in disability in a period of time just prior to becoming eligible for coverage.

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More than 50% of Americans are Considering Benefit Changes as a Result of COVID-19

Nov. 18, 2020 | PRNewswire

NEW YORK — Open enrollment is well underway and Americans are approaching it very differently than in years past. For instance, more than half of working Americans said they are likely to make benefits changes as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and nearly half (44 percent) are likely to make changes as a result of the presidential election. With this year’s pandemic prompting working Americans to re-evaluate their financial security amidst the biggest health crisis in a lifetime, selecting the right benefits can be a challenge.

Even though many working Americans will be making changes to their benefits as a result of the pandemic and the election, more than 65 percent will actually dedicate more time to researching Black Friday deals, such as what smartphone to buy or new TV shows to watch compared to researching their benefit options. The latest set of findings from Guardian’s 9th Annual Workplace Benefits Study also aimed to understand where gaps were with overall benefits knowledge.

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Despite current volatility, Moody’s is bullish on long-term future of voluntary benefits

November 3, 2020 | By Alan Goforth – BenefitsPro

Established providers with strong distribution networks, employee education programs and enrollment platforms will gain most from post-pandemic expansion.

The long-term future of voluntary benefits is bright despite the short-term effects of coronavirus-related unemployment, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service.

“Voluntary benefits are win-win products for both employers and employees, as well as for voluntary benefit providers,” according to the report. “For employers, voluntary benefits are inexpensive supplements to traditional health care and other employee benefits whose selection can be expanded with limited incremental cost. They also are an important recruitment and retention tool, particularly in tight labor markets such as the United States, pre-pandemic, in 2019.

“For employees, they are highly valued, customizable benefits that are typically less expensive and more readily available if purchased at the workplace than in the individual market. Finally, for insurers, voluntary benefits are products with little/less interest-rate risk and lower capital requirements than traditional life and annuity products. They can provide good revenue and earnings diversification from spread-based businesses in the current ultra-low interest rate environment.”

The report identified four current trends:

1. High voluntary benefit growth rates attract major players.

Voluntary benefit sales, at just under $9 billion in 2019, have expanded at a compound annual growth rate of 5% over the past 10 years as employer-paid benefits decline.

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Employers most commonly offer disability, life, and AD&D on a voluntary basis

October 29, 2020 |

Employers most commonly offer disability, life, and AD&D on a voluntary basis, according to a recently released Eastbridge study

AVON, Conn., Oct. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Accident (personal injury) and critical illness coverage round out the top five products offered, finds Eastbridge’s The Employer Viewpoint MarketVision™ Report. In addition, many employers offer a variety of non-traditional products including identify protection, legal services, pet insurance, telemedicine, and financial wellness education and tools.

The top five products that employers expressed interest in offering on a voluntary basis in the future are cancer, long-term care, critical illness, hospital indemnity/supplemental medical, and legal plans. The percentage of employers offering fully employer-paid products continues to decline with A&D and long-term disability showing over 40% declines, short-term disability showing an over-30% decline, and term life showing an over-20% decline since 2009.

Benefit managers were asked how likely they are to make several different changes to their benefits program due to COVID-19.

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The Hartford Finds Pandemic Renews Focus On Employee Benefits

September 24, 2020 | Business Wire

  • Forty percent of employees will consider purchasing life insurance during their next open enrollment as a result of COVID-19
  • Gen Z and younger Millennials now more likely to purchase additional benefits offered by their company

  • HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Hartford’s 2020 Future of Benefits Study found that the pandemic has placed a greater emphasis on employer-sponsored benefits that help people plan for unexpected life events and provide financial protection. According to the study, 40% of U.S. workers say they will consider purchasing life insurance during their next open enrollment as a result of COVID-19.

    “The pandemic is shining new light on the benefit programs offered to employees through their workplace, revealing features they might have been overlooking,” said Jonathan Bennett, head of Group Benefits at The Hartford. “People are facing challenging circumstances – whether it is the shattering experience of losing a loved one or becoming sick themselves – and are now recognizing the value of financial protection provided by life insurance and other benefit options. As we mark Life Insurance Awareness Month and approach benefits enrollment season, we encourage employees to carefully review and consider the benefits offered by their employer that can help them prevail through difficult life experiences.”

    The Hartford’s Future of Benefits Study, which polled U.S. workers and human resource benefit decision makers before the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. in early March 2020, and again in mid-June, found that employees say they would consider purchasing the following benefits during their next open enrollment because of COVID-19:

  • Life insurance: 40%
  • Short-term disability insurance: 30%
  • Long-term disability insurance: 29%
  • Critical illness insurance: 27%
  • Hospital indemnity insurance: 23%
  • (Read more…)

    (View infographic…)

    Pandemic has employees rethinking the value of benefits

    September 3, 2020 | By Emily Payne | BenefitsPRO

    A recent survey from Prudential finds that employees are putting a lot more emphasis on non-health benefits.

    As employers, HR professionals and benefits advisors gear up for another open enrollment season, one thing is clear: This year won’t be business as usual. The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a wakeup call for many employees who realize they need to be better prepared for the unexpected.

    A recent survey from Prudential Financial surveyed employees on their needs and perspectives as we move toward open enrollment and found, among other things, that non-health benefits are playing a bigger role in their decision to stay at their current job or move to a new one.

    “While we’re pleased to see workers increasingly recognize the value of a comprehensive, cohesive workplace benefits package, we also cannot ignore that this stems from the financial, physical and mental stressors of the pandemic, …”

    (Read more and view infographic…)