Category Archives: News

How voluntary benefits help attract – and retain – employees in a hot job market

July 7, 2021 | By Kim Buckey – BenefitsPRO


The pandemic focused employee attention on the gaps in their coverage that left them exposed financially and medically.

According to a recent paper, more than one-third of U.S. workers have changed employers or lost jobs since February of last year. Employers across the country are struggling to fill open positions and are often finding that benefits—not compensation—is the deciding factor for many candidates. Differentiation is key in an increasingly competitive landscape, and a flexible and a competitive benefits package is one way employers can stand out.

Today’s employees want flexibility, financial security and protection from unexpected health care bills. The pandemic focused employee attention on the gaps in their coverage that left them exposed financially and medically. Now, as they prepare to return to their jobs (or the workforce in general), many are asking the age-old question: “What’s in it for me?”

The solution for many employers—particularly those with smaller benefits budgets—is voluntary benefits. Not only do they offer employees flexibility in their choice of benefits—allowing them to tailor a package that meets their needs—but, in many cases, flexibility in how the payout from those benefits is used.

Employers are certainly recognizing the value of voluntary offerings—according to a recent Willis Towers Watson survey, 94% of employers cite voluntary benefits as a key piece of their employer value proposition.

The growing demand for voluntary benefits

Voluntary benefits are always evolving—new offerings become available, existing programs are tweaked (contagious disease riders, anyone?) and employee preferences change. If employers haven’t assessed voluntary benefits recently, it’s worth revisiting the options currently available, such as:

Hospital indemnity – Because this insurance pays a lump sum directly to the policyholder, employees can use the money to pay for whatever they want —whether medical bills or groceries, rent or childcare. Offering a benefit that puts money directly in employees’ pockets and gives employees the flexibility to spend that money as needed will be well received.

Critical illness – This type of policy now often includes infectious disease riders—of particular interest to a workforce that’s weathered COVID-19. As with hospital indemnity, these policies pay out cash, which means employees control how the money is used to improve their lives or relieve their finances in the most meaningful way.

Supplemental disability and life plans…

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The importance of voluntary benefits in a COVID-19 world

June 10, 2021 | By David Healy – Employee Benefit News


Voluntary benefits are playing a more critical role in helping employees achieve health and financial security.

COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of coverages like life and disability insurance, and has also shown the need for care benefits following delayed screenings or treatments, such as dental or cancer insurance. As the economy begins to recover, business owners should make sure to promote these and other voluntary benefits to their employees, who now have heightened awareness of their health and financial vulnerabilities.

The surge of life insurance
Even before COVID-19, there was an average life insurance coverage gap of $200,000 per household, according to LIMRA, meaning most people are woefully underinsured based on the needs and expenses of their families. As the pandemic wears on, new interest in life insurance or additional coverage has risen substantially. The industry education group Life Happens conducted a study in 2020 and found that 25% of respondents purchased life insurance for the first time because of COVID-19. People have become more aware of the need for life insurance, and are increasingly concerned with caring for and financially protecting their families.

Disability insurance is always valuable
Workers need income protection in the event of a major illness or injury.

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Help Employees Understand the Value of Disability Insurance

May 24, 2021 | By Jessica Tuman – ThinkAdvisor


If you view disability insurance (DI) as paycheck protection insurance, why is it that two thirds of working Americans report that they don’t have DI? Is it not offered by their employers? Or is it because they don’t understand the short- and long-term value of DI?

When faced with employees’ skepticism around DI, advisors should help them understand what DI does, breaking down their coverage options and the implications of each.

Many people think of disabilities as happening to someone else — either at birth or end of life, but the chances of an adult becoming disabled are higher than one might think; in fact, it will happen to just over one in four of today’s 20-year-olds before they retire, causing them to miss work for an extended period, and a paycheck. And, accidents aren’t the only cause of disability among adults; back injuries, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses cause the majority of long-term absences.

Once an understanding of the likelihood of a disability is established, providing a comprehensive overview so individuals understand the role that their employer-sponsored DI program plays in meeting their needs and how it strengthens their financial planning — whether or not they currently have a disability or medical condition — will lead to more employees opting for DI coverage. In turn, this will help employees feel more confident and secure about their financial future.

There are three ways to help employees understand their DI coverage.

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Are you prepared for a new benefits model?

May 24, 2021 | By Craig Stephens – BenefitsPRO


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.

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

Increasingly, the trend is that employers (and your competition) are 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.

    Employees and employers are seeking benefits that put the employee at the center and benefits platforms that make life easier and better for employees in every aspect of their lives. This goes beyond making the employee portal and user experience friendlier; the actual benefits being offered are changing. More large organizations are experimenting with broader portfolios of benefits and tools for everything from financial wellness to physical health to mental well-being. The lines are blurring between the narrow categorization of benefits and even between who in an organization is responsible for which program.


    Look who’s getting all the love now: voluntary benefits

    As the demand for integrated health care benefits continues to grow, voluntary products are now in the spotlight.

    (Read more…)

    Post-Pandemic, Americans Remain Unprepared For Disability

    May 10, 2021 | By Jessica Gillespie – InsuranceNewsNet


    As employers increasingly focus on the overall financial wellness of their employees, disability insurance must be part of the conversation — not only during this Disability Insurance Awareness Month, but all year long.

    The events of 2020 arguably proved the case for the importance of income protection and financial wellness, and it did lead to an increase in individuals considering or buying life insurance. But even as employers paid out nearly $11 billion in disability benefits pay related to COVID-19, many individuals still aren’t investing in disability insurance. In fact, the opposite has happened.

    Ownership of disability insurance has fallen to just 14%, down from 20% in 2019, according to LIMRA’s 2021 Insurance Barometer study. The decline reflects several factors, including job losses on the employee side and a shift in funds by employers compensating for rising health care coverage costs. Prudential’s open enrollment survey found that nearly 60% of workers who said they had selected fewer benefits did so to save on monthly expenses.

    Still, the decline in disability insurance ownership has not been entirely pandemic-related, as numbers were headed downward even prior to the health crisis. Only 40% of private workers had access to short-term disability insurance in March 2020, and 35% had access to long-term disability insurance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    But even among workers who have access to such policies, there’s a disconnect between their financial concerns and how to use insurance products to address those concerns. This is particularly true among younger workers, many of whom are already living paycheck-to-paycheck.

    (Read more…)

    4 Trends Benefits Brokers Will Focus On As Pandemic Subsides

    May 05, 2021 | PRNewswire


    Purchasing Power® Predicts the New Normal for Employee Benefits as Workers Begin to Return to the Workplace

    ATLANTA, May 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how nearly every industry conducts business these days. In the employee benefits space, voluntary benefits previously thought of as “nice to have” today are a “must have” in benefits packages. Industry veteran and chief revenue officer of Purchasing Power®, a voluntary benefit company that offers the leading employee purchase program, Mike Wilbert, predicts this shift means benefits brokers will continue to work in new ways with their clients.

    “Flexibility has been key for all of us in the employee benefits industry as we address how the pandemic has changed the workplace and the people in it,” says Wilbert. “Following more than a year of responding to COVID-19 challenges to employers, benefits brokers need to help their clients navigate this new world. For many, this means employers will consider adding more voluntary benefits such as financial well-being options to their offerings.”

    Here are the top 4 ways Wilbert predicts benefits brokers will be guiding their clients throughout this year:

  • 1. Finding new ways to connect and partner with clients and prospective clients.

    Over time the benefits broker role has expanded beyond sales to include consultant/advisor. This past year, benefits brokers heard the rising HR challenges their clients are facing and have engaged even more deeply with them as a partner, building relationships and working together to help secure employee well-being. Benefits brokers will continue to demonstrate and deepen their value to clients this year.

  • (Read more…)

    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.

    (Read more…)

    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.

    (Read more…)

    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.

    (Read more…)

    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.

    (Read more…)