Takeovers are a common occurrencein today's benefits landscape. In fact, a recent study from theconsulting group Eastbridge found that 80 percent of carriers haveseen their voluntary takeover volume increase over the past threeyears. Plus, 95 percent expect the volume of takeover business toactually increase in the coming years.

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I'm a big believer in putting the customer at the center ofeverything you do, from a product or a service you provide to theculture your workplace fosters. And I understand there are timeswhere, if there is a better product available or a carrier isn'tthe right fit, a takeover may be the right decision for a client.But I've also seen that too many of these takeovers can riskleading to drawbacks for brokers, employers and, importantly, theend customer – the employee.

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Here's a look at a few of the risks.

Risk #1: Employees lose out on coverage.

As you likely know from experience, employees aren't alwaysfamiliar with their coverage. If there is a takeover andportability is an option, they may not know how to keep existingcoverage if payroll deduction is no longer supported. In situationslike this, employees can actually lose coverage they previouslyfound useful. In other cases, they may end up paying more forpurchasing coverage at a later age. Another risk: Employees willalso have to familiarize themselves with the new policy once thetakeover is complete. That can ultimately lead to a disappointedemployee who will lose features they valued or a frustrated one whoisn't familiar with what the new coverage offers.

Risk #2: Employers lose on level ofservice.

For many brokers, service can be a deciding factor when it comestime to change carriers. When you're introducing a new carrier'sbenefits after a takeover, you might also be introducing newservice solutions and processes for an employer to administer. Thiscan throw existing processes and any sense of familiarity andcomfort into chaos. If the carriers your clients are working withare constantly changing, it's hard for them to manage theseprocesses effectively. Too many takeovers can contribute to shakyservice that employees — your ultimate customers — will notice.

Risk #3: Brokers lose out on business.

It's not just about service. Too many takeovers can start toreflect poorly on a broker in other ways. Put yourself in theemployee's shoes. If you're seeing the offerings constantly change,you might get the sense that the products your employer is offeringaren't very good to begin with. That's ultimately going to be areflection on you, and I know you don't want that.

Takeovers are a reality

Big picture: Takeovers aren't going away anytime soon and in theright instances, they're a critical way to better serve clients.All the more reason to be mindful of the risks involved and factorthose into your decision-making process when considering a shift.In the end, your long-term relationship with your client shouldalways be focused on what's right for your end customer — theiremployees.

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Ann Freeman joined Trustmark in 2016, as Executive Directorleading voluntary benefits marketing. She's responsible for B2B andB2C marketing, digital and social media. Most recently, Ann camefrom Allstate, where she led life and retirement marketing, and ispast chair of LIMRA's Marketing Committee. She's passionate aboutmaking finance and insurance simple and easy to understand foreveryone. A marketing veteran from the University of Wisconsin, Annled a marketing consulting firm focused on healthcare, finance andinsurance for more than 15 years prior to Allstate.

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