9 rising trends in voluntary benefits

Published
  • October 03 2016, 1:11am EDT
There hasn’t been much innovation in voluntary in the last few years, explains Kevin McNamara, enrollment strategist with The Standard, because of a barrier of making education around the plans contextual with employer-provided plans.

Speaking on the sidelines of EBA’s Workplace Benefits Mania in Nashville, Tenn., last week, McNamara explained that technology is making these changes easier, as providers can build things that “leverage the data they know about customer/employee set and other plans.”

In the past, the only way an insurance provider could do that was to send a human who could think that way, he adds. As these trends take off, he shared where voluntary is moving.
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Introduction

There hasn’t been much innovation in voluntary in the last few years, explains Kevin McNamara, enrollment strategist with The Standard, because of a barrier of making education around the plans contextual with employer-provided plans.

Speaking on the sidelines of EBA’s Workplace Benefits Mania in Nashville, Tenn., last week, McNamara explained that technology is making these changes easier, as providers can build things that “leverage the data they know about customer/employee set and other plans.”

In the past, the only way an insurance provider could do that was to send a human who could think that way, he adds. As these trends take off, he shared where voluntary is moving.
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1) Decision support tools

Interactive tools to help employees determine which benefits and how much of those benefits are in high demand.

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2) Video

McNamara explains that across all generations and different types of employees there is a “desire to get some education via video.” Those videos need to be short bite-sized pieces of content that can resonate with employees and must be tied to a product.

3) Mobile

Being able to communicate on mobile devices and having technology be mobile responsive is an important part of the “employee user interface arsenal,” McNamara explains.

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4) Simplicity in plan design

There is a move to have fewer choices in the products themselves. As an example, a critical illness plan that comes in increments of $1,000, but employees are only offered a $10,000 or $20,000 plan.

5) Flexibility

Brokers are expecting carriers to be flexible in integrating with multiple systems and offer communication in different types of formats. “No one size fits all when it comes to enrollment solutions,” McNamara says. “Being able to a [provide] a cadre of solutions and services that you can custom build to each and every customer’s needs.”

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6) Data

There has been a “proliferation of data feeds,” McNamara says, and carriers continue to look for more ways to integrate their backend and build automation based on data received on issuance of insurance after enrollment.

7) Education

There is “tremendous demand” for onsite education, and with more products offered, more support is needed for the brokers to provide education and individuals to provide group meetings and even one-on-one meetings, McNamara says.

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8) Multimedia integration

Carriers are providing videos, text and stories to integrate in with benefit administration platforms. “We are hearing from top brokers that integration … is best way to have all that content available right at the point that employee makes a decision,” McNamara says.

9) ‘The last frontier’

Going forward, McNamara expects more customers to adapt to these changes. He also predicts a move to electronic enrollment, especially down-market. It is the “last frontier,” he says,” getting people off paper and into electronic enrollment, where all this becomes possible.”