- The fight for employer business is growing fiercer as differentiation between voluntary brokers and employee benefit brokers continues to fade, BenefitsPRO had concluded following a recent survey. The number of brokers who say they actively sell voluntary benefits or cross-sell voluntary benefits to all their accounts rose 10 percentage points in the past three years, the survey revealed.
- The findings also showed a change in products sold. Both benefits brokers and voluntary brokers said their top products shifted in the past few years from primarily life and disability coverage to accident, critical illness and hospital indemnity.
- In addition, both said they added more nontraditional benefits to their voluntary portfolios, with 60% of reporting that they sold these products either occasionally or much more than in the past two years. The most popular nontraditional product was identity theft coverage, followed by wellness programs for benefit brokers and discount health programs for voluntary brokers. Other top nontraditional benefits included legal plans and pet insurance.
Voluntary benefits are no longer just "nice to have," a new Willis Towers Watson (WTW) study concluded. They're becoming a mainstay of employer benefits offerings, as companies increasingly work to address workers' personal needs. Just 5% of employers in the WTW survey said voluntary benefits had little effect on their employee value proposition.
But to find success with these benefits, employers need to understand what their workforces need, and work to ensure that employees make use of them.
Both formal and informal surveys can help, assisting employers in determining whether employees most need wellness assistance or student-debt repayment, for example. But employer efforts must continue once offerings are in place. Roughly 62% of employers in a Transamerica Center for Health Studies report said they offer wellness benefits, but only 40% of their employees said they knew about these benefits. An effective, year-round communication plan is key, with some employers boosting engagement through additional efforts, like Mastercard's creation of "grassroots buzz."