Author Archives: Steve Aldrich

Life insurance: Not enough have it, and many don’t have enough

More than 60 percent of workers have either no life insurance or less than industry-recommended coverage amounts.

January 17, 2020 | By Katie Kuehner-Hebert – BenefitsPro

Workers might have life insurance policies, but the coverage is often not enough, according to Guardian Life’s report, (“Protecting Those We Love: The Role of Life Insurance in Financial Wellness.”)

Guardian Life surveyed 2,000 employees and 1,500 employee benefits decision-makers, and found that while the vast majority of workers say it’s important for a family’s primary wage earner to own life insurance, more than 60 percent have either no life insurance or less than industry-recommended coverage amounts.

“Life insurance ownership in the U.S. has been trending lower the past 40 years, and the average coverage amount is declining as well,” the authors write. “In the 1990s, employer-based or group life insurance surpassed individual life insurance (purchased outside the workplace) as the primary distribution channel. This contributed to lower coverage levels because group plans tend to offer smaller face amounts compared to policies available outside the workplace.”

Nearly two-thirds of employers offer group life insurance coverage of only two times annual salary or less, compared to conservative industry guidelines that suggest persons should have enough life insurance to replace at least five to seven times their annual salary.

Moreover, a third of employers offer life insurance benefits that cover just one times an employee’s annual salary. Another one in five offer a flat amount of coverage, typically either $10,000 or $20,000.

“Workers who own individual life insurance are twice as likely to have recommended coverage levels compared to those with only employer-sponsored coverage,” the authors write. “Among working adults with only group life insurance, one in four have coverage equal to one times their annual salary or less.”

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Key to employee retention: build your own benefit plans

December 03, 2019 | By Kayla Webster – Employee Benefit news

Customization is the key to building a benefits package that appeals to all ages, according to the CEO of a national benefits advisory firm.

Five generations are currently working side by side in the U.S. workforce, and that’s unlikely to change in coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that a quarter of the workforce will be age 55 and up by the year 2028. Around 22% of the workforce will be between the ages of 25-34. With so much age diversity, employers will have to get creative if they want to appeal to their entire workforce.

“Employers who want to be competitive in a tight labor market have to stop using one-size-fits-all benefit packages,” says Elliot Dinkin, president and CEO of Cowden Associates, a Pittsburgh-based benefit adviser firm. “Different generations have different priorities and goals; the most competitive packages will reflect that.”

Dinkin spoke with Employee Benefit News about how employers can develop flexible benefit offerings.

How can benefit offerings be flexible?

You can tinker your offerings to be specific for individuals. Employers can do this by creating trade-offs that give employees more of, or redirect, a benefit based on where they are in their career.

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Use annual enrollment to help your workforce facing financial stress

Here are three relatively simple, low-cost steps you can take to help workers focus on work instead of worrying about their bank balance.

November 15, 2019 | By Ashley Shope – BenefitsPro

It might not quite rank up there with public speaking and going to the dentist, but a lot of America’s workers are pretty anxious about their finances.

In fact, 50 percent of workers experienced stress or anxiety about their finances in the past year, according to a recent Unum poll of 1,512 full-time U.S. employees. Those numbers are even higher among Gen Z (76 percent) and millennial (62 percent) workers. And it’s not only those who are relatively new to the work world and perhaps earning less who say they’re suffering: More than a third of those with a household income of at least $150,000 feel financial anxiety.

Paying the mortgage or rent, paying monthly bills and making credit card payments lead the stress list — but paying for health care isn’t far behind, the survey showed. Nearly one in four workers are worried about out-of-pocket health care costs.

And with good reason. The average health care deductible for single coverage was nearly $1,500 last year, and almost twice that for family coverage. Add in co-pays, coinsurance and other non-covered costs, and an average family has more than $4,700 in out-of-pocket medical costs each year — and that’s not counting the cost of health insurance premiums.

At the same time, most workers don’t have a financial cushion to fall back on. Only 40 percent would use savings to pay an unexpected $1,000 expense, such as a car repair or emergency room visit. Not surprising, then, that two-thirds of all bankruptcies are tied to medical issues.

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How To Offer Benefits To Gen Z Employees

November 19, 2019 | By Neil Vaswani – Co-Founder and CEO of Corestream. – for Forbes Business Council

From recruiting to office culture, it’s no secret that millennials have dominated conversations about the workplace. Just when we thought we had begun to understand millennials, a new cohort entered the workforce: Generation Z. Gen Z, consisting of those born between 1995 and 2015, is the single largest generation in the U.S., accounting for nearly 61 million people and 26% of the current U.S. population. It’s time for us, as employers, to turn our attention to them and begin preparing for this incoming workforce. Let’s take a look at how Gen Z will shake things up.

Gen Z: What’s Different?

When millennials entered the workforce, they fundamentally changed the future of work. Unlike past generations, they don’t stay with an employer longer than a few years, aren’t afraid to ask for what they want from their careers and they want to feel a connection with their employer that goes beyond a paycheck.

As a result, voluntary employee benefits — i.e., any benefits outside of and complementary to core medical, dental and vision insurance, including student loan repayment assistance, supplementary health insurance and pet insurance — became the de facto way to cater to those employees. Over 90% of millennials surveyed reported that they would prefer additional benefits over a pay raise.

Not to be underestimated, Gen Z is next in line and poised to further disrupt the future of work.

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These 4 Objections Could Kill Voluntary and Worksite Life Sales

The author has ideas about how you can help the employees see the situation in a different light.

October 28, 2019 | By Jennifer Gassaway – ThinkAdvisor

Benefits enrollment season is here.

While employers and employees will primarily be focused on medical benefits, now is the perfect time to remind them of the value of life insurance. Increasing voluntary life insurance enrollment can be a challenge for brokers, because employees often don’t understand the coverage they may automatically receive from their employer, the coverage they actually need, and the gap between employer-provided and personal coverage.

Regardless of age, income or marital status, life insurance is a universal benefit that delivers financial security and protects an employee’s family interests in the event something happens.

As you consider your upcoming benefits conversations, consider how you’ll handle the following four objections to life insurance, which can often be barriers to purchase.

1. ‘I don’t need it. I’m healthy and careful.’

It’s important for employees recognize the need to prepare for the unexpected.

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What Is Voluntary Life Insurance and How Does It Work?

Voluntary life insurance is be a great benefit for employees who might otherwise be unable to purchase life insurance privately due to a medical condition.

September 30, 2019 | By Roger Wohlner – TheStreet

Voluntary life insurance can be a valuable employee benefit for many workers. Coverage is generally low-cost and there are no medical exams required.

What Is Voluntary Life Insurance?

Voluntary life insurance is an employee benefit option offered by many employers to their employees. The employee pays the monthly premium to the insurance company offering the policy. In exchange, the employee’s beneficiaries will receive a death benefit should the employee die while the policy is in force.

Many companies also offer the opportunity for the employee to purchase policies for their spouse and children if desired.

Due to the employer’s sponsorship of the policy, the premiums are generally lower than employees would find for a similar policy if they purchased it privately.

How Does Voluntary Life Insurance Work?

Voluntary life insurance is generally guaranteed issue up to some limit on the death benefit. Guaranteed issue means that there is no medical exam required; applicants won’t be refused based upon any sort of medical condition.

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5 benefit perks to entice top millennial talent to your company

Is a bigger pay packet or a rich benefits package more apt to win and retain the best employees?

September 18, 2019 | By Rachel Lyubovitzky – Employee Benefit News

In the talent wars, higher salaries are no longer the motivator they once were, research shows. That is why increased focus has been placed on health insurance and benefits packages in recent years.

However, with millennials making up at least 75% of workers, priorities have shifted and many employers are falling behind in tailoring their perks for a profoundly changing workforce.

While the traditional trio of coverage — medical, dental and vision — remains relevant, 71% of workers looking to change jobs in 2019 said more extensive benefits would increase job satisfaction. For employers seeking to attract top talent, therefore, the main imperative must be contemporizing and broadening their range of benefits.

Here are five new offerings that could make the difference.

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Survey: Many American workers want life insurance as an employee benefit

September, 3, 2019 | By Lyle Adriano – Insurance Business America

A new survey found that a good portion of American workers are interested in group life insurance through their employer.

The online survey was conducted by The Harris Poll for OneAmerica. More than 1,000 US adults aged 18 years and older who are employed full or part-time participated in the study.

According to the survey, 59% of workers said they would purchase group life insurance via their employer if it was offered as an option. The survey also noted that 28% of the workers surveyed already have voluntary group life insurance.

Notably, the survey found that most respondents see group life insurance as a valuable worksite benefit because it is often unavailable to them to purchase individually. Those who have group life insurance said it gives them “peace of mind” should tragedy occur.

Nearly half of workers who do not have voluntary group life insurance (47%) said it is because their employer does not offer it.

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Growth continues for voluntary sales

Benefit brokers, career agents and voluntary brokers take the largest share of voluntary/worksite sales.

August, 20, 2019 | By Bonnie Brazzell and Nick Rockwell –

This is the last in our series of columns on the voluntary industry sales results for 2018. This column takes a closer look at sales by the following distribution segments:

Career agents—These producers work primarily for a single company and sell that company’s voluntary/worksite products. Aflac and Colonial reps are examples of career agents.

Classic worksite brokers—These producers focus primarily on voluntary sales. Their operations may be small or medium sized, and they typically sell directly to employers and may offer support services to their clients.

Worksite specialists—This segment consists of large marketing organizations whose primary focus is voluntary sales. Benefits communications is a key service offered by this group. Most specialists work on cases brought to them by other brokers who need their expertise in voluntary.

Benefit brokers—These producers typically focus on employee benefits, particularly traditional group benefits. Some are actually benefits agencies inside of a commercial lines agency. For all, voluntary products are generally offered as an additional line.

Occasional worksite producers—These producers are insurance generalists. They have a small agency that sells insurance products other than voluntary/worksite—group, individual or property/casualty. Worksite products are a small part of their operation.

The benefit broker segment continued to take the largest share of voluntary/worksite sales at 59 percent; the segment accounted for almost $5 billion in sales. Career agents continued to have the second highest share, at around $1.5 billion. Voluntary brokers (classics and worksite specialists) accounted for about $1.9 billion.

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3 disability insurance items benefits advisors and employers should discuss

With open enrollment on the horizon, now is the time to talk about short- and long-term disability coverage offerings.

August, 06, 2019 | Lynn Goldbach –

Disability Insurance Awareness Month came to a close in May, but its messages are as relevant as ever. The seriousness of those messages creates the opportunity—and responsibility—for benefits managers and advisors to engage with employers well ahead of open enrollment. Like May, open enrollment will arrive—and be over—all too soon.

The reality is that one in four adults in the U.S. lives with a disability, and more than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they reach retirement age. While people take disability leave from the workplace for a variety of reasons, the most common causes—depression, arthritis and other degenerative joint diseases, and lower back and neck strains—can happen to anyone and have persisting impacts on individuals, their families and their employers. In fact, the Integrated Benefits Institute found that illness-related lost productivity costs U.S. employers $530 billion per year due to almost 1.4 billion days of employee work absence.

Despite these statistics, many individuals who experience a disabling event are physically, emotionally and financially unprepared for it. Cigna recently commissioned the Cigna Group Disability Study of 500 U.S. adults and found that among those without disability coverage, 52 percent took more than two years to recover financially and half experienced depression. On top of that, 42 percent became financially dependent on family and friends—about two times that of individuals with coverage—and roughly one-third or more were extremely worried about their ability to pay living expenses.

With open enrollment on the horizon, now is the time for benefits managers and advisors to engage with employers about the short- and long-term disability coverage offerings available to employees. Below are three key points to help benefits experts communicate the value of this coverage.

1. Financial support, outside of just salary, to help weather the disabling event.

The primary benefit of disability coverage, which most employees understand, is the partial payment of income should a working person encounter a covered disabling event. But the benefits don’t stop there.

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