We run many articles about surveys conducted by big insurers, and by big benefits and insurance distributors. Here, a broker out in the field talks about how he organized his own survey, to find out what the Millennials in his own corner of the universe are thinking… This article is dedicated to two people.First, Allison Bell, who through her insightful and informative reporting has helped to shape my thinking and push me to be a better insurance and employee benefits advisor.Second, to my son, Michael, who from the time he was old enough to walk has constantly been a source of support, brains, and creativity. Michael was a huge help in getting his friends (also millennials) to supply answers to a benefits survey I created. Why I Created a Survey I came up with the idea of conducting a survey after reading Allison’s article, “Millennials Are Learning to Love Life Benefits.” (Related: Millennials Are Learning to Love Life Benefits) The article referred to a good deal of statistical information from an earlier survey. The other survey seemed to indicate that the percentage of people in the millennial generation (those born from 1981 to 1997) who feel that life insurance is a somewhat important, or very important, work-provided benefit had increased significantly between 2013 and 2017.This got me thinking about my own two kids: my son, Michael, who was born in 1991, and his sister, Rachael, who was born in 1992. I also started to think about their friends, and about what seem to be their most pressing concerns.Suffice it to say that all of these kids vaguely know that I write insurance products and some are even frequent visitors to my Facebook business page. I decided to post a survey for millennials, to give me some data on where insurance fits into their thoughts.My snap judgment about why millennials focus on life insurance is that it might be due to their awareness of big student loan debt. Maybe they want to avoid passing that debt pass on to someone they care about, should the worst occur.With a great deal of help from Michael, I put a survey together using Survey Monkey. What was in the survey I tried to design the questions in such a way that the respondents would not try to guess the “preferred response.”The survey questions were as follows:
- Which one employee benefits (NOT Including health insurance) is the most important to you?
- Which one benefit would you like your company to offer it does not offer now?
- If you had to stop working because of a serious accident or illness, and would not be returning to work for a long time, would you have the cash to pay your bills?
- On a scale of 1 – 10 (with 10 being highest importance) what value would you place on life insurance as an employee benefit?
- Year you were born _______.
- Your gender __________.
Survey methodology I allowed the survey to run for 10 days. The only participation requirement was a request that the respondents be employed in a position that offered some form of employee benefits.The survey attracted a total of 43 responses: 28 from males, and 15 from females.I found this result interesting, and troubling. I would have hoped that more females would have felt inclined to voice their opinions. Results Here are the results, some of which I feel are very relevant to all insurance and benefits advisors. The numbers here indicated how many times the respondents selected a particular option. Question 1: Which one employee benefits (NOT Including health insurance) is the most important to you?
- 401(k) plan, or 401(k) plan with company match: 13 selections.
- Paid time off: 6 selections.
- Paid vacation: 3 selections.
- Flex schedule: 2 selections.
- Commuter reimbursement: 2 selections.
- Pension: 2 selections (could also be included with 401(k) plan).
- Not applicable: 2 selections.
- Company stock ownership: 1 selection.
- Long-term disability: 1 selection.
- Medical: 1 selection (even though I asked respondents not to give health insurance as the answer).
- Parties at office: 1 selection.
- Vision and dental: 1 selection.
- Retirement plan: 1 selection (could be included with 401(k) plan).
- Work at home: 1 selection.
The clear winner here was retirement benefits. Question 2: Which one benefit would you like your company to offer that it does not offer now?
- Flex time: 6 selections.
- Gym membership: 5 selections.
- 401(k) plan: 4 selections.
- Food: 4 selections.
- Not applicable: 4 selections.
- Summer Friday hours: 2 selections.
- Car allowance: 1 selection.
- Commuting cost reimbursement: 2 selections.
- Company events: 1 selection.
- Company match for charity contributions: 1 selection.
- Dental: 1 selection.
- Dogs at work: 1 selection.
- Extra maternity leave: 1 selection.
- Health insurance: 1 selection.
- Money for Insurance: 1 selection.
- Overtime: 1 selection.
- Paternity leave: 1 selection.
- Standing desk: 1 selection.
- Tuition reimbursement: 1 selection.
- Not sure: 1 selection.
The big winners here were gym membership coverage , flex time; and 401(k) plans.It’s clear that some people do not know that health insurance plans often provide gym discounts. It also seems that paid family leave benefits are not always being explained well to the employees.Most of the survey participants live in New York state, which recently implemented a paid family leave program. The program applies to almost every business in the state, and the program provides access to paid leave for a variety of family-related issues , including maternity. But apparently, two survey respondents did not know that the state paid family leave law exists. Question 3: If you had to stop working because of a serious accident or illness, and would not be returning to work for a long time, would you have the cash to pay your bills? When asked about their ability to pay ongoing expenses in the event of a disability, here’s how the respondents answered
- Would have the cash to pay expenses: 13 respondents.
- Would not have the cash to pay expenses: 17 respondents.
- Might have the cash to pay expenses: 13 respondents.
These answers show me that employee benefits businesses, and insurance companies in general, need to a much better job of educating people about the exposure they face in the event of a disabling accident or illness. Question 4: On a scale of 1 – 10 (with 10 being highest importance) what value would you place on life insurance as an employee benefit? The respondents’ rankings of the importance of life insurance as an employee benefit came in all over the place.
- 10 (highest importance): 4 selections.
- 9: 1 selection.
- 8: 8 selections.
- 7: 6 selections.
- 6: 5 selections.
- 5: 8 selections.
- 4: 1 selection.
- 3: 1 selection.
- 2: 4 selections.
- 1 (lowest importance): 4 selections.
The survey attracted a small sample of people. But the numbers suggest to me that, on some intuitive level, most young adults understand that life insurance has an important role to play in the fabric of their lives. As these young workers start to add on to their family responsibilities, they may become buyers of life insurance without a great deal of arm twisting.I look forward to the role I will play in helping these young people.
Jerry Cohen is a broker in the life, health and Medicare supplement insurance markets. His office is in Port Jefferson Station, New York.