What's in it for me?
This may be the most common question employers ask their human resources professionals about voluntary benefits, and it also may be the first question HR people ask their broker.
Brokers should have a ready answer.
“There are many advantages to including voluntary benefits in an employer's portfolio of benefits offered to their employees,” said Kathy O’Brien, vice president, voluntary benefits, for Unum National Client Group. “Voluntary benefits allow an employer to offer more benefit choices to their employees without increasing the amount of money spent on employee benefits.
“Because each employee has unique benefit needs, more choice allows an employee to tailor their benefits and spend their own money, through the ease of payroll deduction, for those benefits that have the greatest value to them and their families. When an employee values the benefits they receive from their employer, the employer is more likely to retain that employee.”
Voluntary benefits can provide significant bang for the employee's buck, says Rich Williams, senior vice president, growth markets, for Colonial Life.
“Voluntary benefits offered at the worksite provide significant financial protection, and since premiums are typically deducted from an employee's paycheck, often on a pretax basis, they’re very affordable,” he says. “Many types of voluntary coverage can be purchased for as little as 90 minutes of an employee's pay.
“Unlike major medical insurance benefits, voluntary benefits are paid directly to policyholders, so they can use the money where it's most needed — whether it's for out-of-pocket medical costs, to make a car payment or to pay the mortgage.”
Brokers need to keep in mind that even a longtime client for traditional benefits may do some comparison shopping for voluntary benefits. Even in the best of relationships, brokers must be able to sell their capabilities.
“A client should ask their broker for client references,” O’Brien says. “A client who is happy with their existing broker and voluntary benefits carrier and is willing to share their experience with another client is the best way to know if you are getting the most knowledgeable broker and the best overall client experience.”