Category Archives: News

Critical contract conversations

December 19, 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.

(Read more…)

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.

(Read more…)

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.

(Read more…)

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.

(Read more…)

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…)

    Why Employers Should Consider Adding Short-Term Disability During Pandemic

    August 7, 2020 | By Ed Gussio – columnist | Flagstaff Business & Online News

    Disability insurance is one of the most overlooked of all employee benefit plans. Think about it: who wants to think they are at risk for becoming disabled?

    In normal times, this happens more often than we would like to think. Today, in the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic that we find ourselves in, it is more important than ever for your employees.

    As a reminder, disability insurance is income protection in case of disability due to accident or illness…

    According to the 2019 SHRM Employee Benefit Survey, only 61% of employers offer STD insurance…

    (Read more…)

    Voluntary sales continue to grow

    July 23, 2020 | By Erin Marino and Nick Rockwell | BenefitsPRO

    Total voluntary sales for 2019 were $8.832 billion, up 4.5% over 2018 sales.

    According to our annual U.S. Voluntary/Worksite Sales Report, new business annualized premium (voluntary sales) increased again last year. Total sales for 2019 were $8.832 billion, up 4.5% over 2018 sales.

    The growth rate was slightly higher compared to what we saw in 2018 (4.5% compared to 3.8%).

    Takeover business (i.e., business that moves from one voluntary carrier to another with a similar product) continued to show stabilization in 2019. The estimated percentage of sales that were takeovers (on an aggregated basis) was 56.4%, just slightly above 55.7% in 2018. In-force premium increased by 4.4% in 2019 to an estimated $47.1 billion.

    (Read more and view charts…)

    Over half of employers expect COVID-19 to increase voluntary enrollment participation, finds Eastbridge report

    July 16, 2020 | Source: Eastbridge Consulting Group, Inc.

    AVON, Conn., July 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — When asked about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on enrollment participation, just over half of employers surveyed believe more employees will enroll in voluntary products, finds Eastbridge’s latest study, Employer Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic and Voluntary. In addition, almost a quarter do not think COVID-19 will have any effect on voluntary enrollments and another 12% are unsure. Only 12% of employers believe enrollment participation will decrease.

    However, many employers anticipate making changes to their voluntary enrollment plans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    (Read more…)

    The Biggest Financial Risk You Don’t Know You’re Taking

    June 25, 2020 | By Danielle Seurkamp – Forbes

    Warren Buffett said, “only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” As Covid-19 came in, the proverbial tide went out and it exposed how few of us were prepared for an unexpected loss of income. There simply are not that many of us who can get by without our next paycheck, much less without a job.

    When millions of people were drastically ejected from the workforce, the government stepped in with stimulus to keep people on the payroll and keep families afloat. It is a safety net that is only deployed when unemployment is so pervasive, and its impact on the economy is so detrimental. It is about protecting the whole, not any one individual.

    Of course, as individuals, we always run the risk of losing our ability to earn a living, not only to downsizing or layoffs but to disability as well. In fact, disability is a far bigger risk than many of us realize. According to the CDC, one in four adults has a disability that impacts major life activities, such as a long-lasting sensory, physical, mental, or emotional condition that makes it difficult or impossible to leave the house and work. About 37% of people with a disability have jobs, as compared to 77% of people without a disability.

    While there are some social safety nets in place like unemployment benefits or Social Security disability income, these programs are either short-lived or difficult to receive. Many people with disabilities find it difficult to qualify for Social Security disability income at all. That leaves it largely on us to protect ourselves from the potential loss of income resulting from a disability.

    Fortunately, many employers provide long-term disability insurance to their employees, either as a company-paid benefit or as a voluntary benefit paid for by the employee.

    (Read more…)