The idea that it’s time to turn “bullish” on voluntary sales is hardly new. But a group of carrier and independent voluntary distributors at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Renaissance said Tuesday that there’s still a lot more behind voluntary that brokers need to know.

“There is a need for products that fill the gap,” said John Mason, managing director at Preferred Benefit Solutions, LLC. “There is a tremendous need for products not provided by the employer. That’s the exciting thing for our business.” But, with voluntary products taking “center stage” there’s a lot more to know:

1. Don’t overload employees with products at a single enrollment. “This differs, but the rule of thumb is the fewer is better, and ideally build a multi-year plan and mitigate the risk of diluting the perceived value of the benefits,” said Dan Robson, east region director of workplace voluntary benefits for Humana. Others on the panel said one to two voluntary benefits at a session should be introduced. “I like the three-year plan,” said Philip Brimer, principal at Brimer Benefits. “Based on what they need, position the most-needed products — that’s just kind of the rule I’ve always followed,” adding that the least-needed products can be introduced toward the end of the plan.

2. “Never do passive enrollment,” said Brimer when asked about how technology can help or hurt brokers selling voluntary. In other words, don’t send an email with the option for employees to simply select a benefit themselves — the panel likened that to sitting in a cafeteria and waiting for employees to come to you. The panel said to try for face-to-face enrollment as the gold standard, but new avatars can simulate this, too, and are working somewhat well.

3. Get creative. Mason asked an audience member to stand up and give examples of how he’s been leveraging very unique client situations to enhance voluntary outcomes. “Some employers want their employees to know how to shop for pharmaceuticals or eyeball errors in [hospital bills]” and you can suggest a way to incentivize them with any errors they find. “It’s a great time right now,” said the audience member, to help employers achieve their goals in all kinds of ways.

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