Not all clients understand the value of voluntary benefits. Here’s what brokers can do
When it comes to bringing voluntary benefits to the workplace, clients may be behind the eight ball.
That’s according to Adam Gelman, vice president and business head, and Jessica Vanscavish, vice president, both of voluntary benefits, Prudential Group Insurance. While some employers have become more progressive in offering voluntary benefits to help workers address needs, many are still lagging behind.
“I wish [employers] were all there, but they’re not,” Vanscavish said during a media conference call Wednesday. By comparison, Vanscavish says the broker community is becoming significantly more knowledgeable about the importance of offering voluntary benefits. Advisers are now more holistic and consultative sellers, she adds.
“What’s interesting is the brokers traditionally would talk about a product. [They] would go in and say you need this product. Many are becoming much more progressive recommenders, to promote how to put the benefits in place,” she says.
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While they may be slow to implementation, employers are interested in a variety of voluntary benefits, Prudential says. These range from pet and legal insurance to financial wellness offerings like budgeting and financial coaching. There’s also telemedicine and identity theft protection benefits.
“Consumers aren’t all the same. We all have different needs and that’s why you see so many of these different products and solutions,” Vanscavish says. Advisers should look for ways to reach employers and let them know about these products throughout the year, Gelman adds.
Vanscavish and Gelman advise that brokers look for solutions that integrate well with existing HCM and benefit administration systems. Employers, particularly larger ones, are looking to access everything in a central location.
A recent study of 500 HR employees from Reward Gateway echoes this sentiment. More than a fifth of companies use 10 or more different systems and applications at work, and roughly 60% are using more than five systems everyday, Reward Gateway reports. In addition, 87% of HR professionals say having tools that integrate into their existing technology is key.
More companies are releasing tools to help employers access voluntary offerings. Prudential, for example, recently released a slew of new financial wellness products including financial coaching and student loan repayment. The company also added a new accident, critical illness and hospital indemnity product.
But good technology alone is not going to help employees find benefits that are well suited to their needs, the pair say. Gelman warns that employers should look to work with brokers and carriers who are aren’t simply selling a product, and can help them to find solutions tailored to the company’s needs. A human touch can make a big difference, he adds.
“There’s a big difference between pushing products and providing solutions,” he says. “Those are the types of partners you really want in this market.”