ID protection, student debt assistance heat up voluntary products race

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Some of the most popular non-insurance voluntary products in the market today are identity theft protection and college loan repayment assistance. While these programs have been around for a long time, they are continuing to evolve to meet the needs of the changing workforce.

Nearly one-in-three employees report that issues with financial wellness have been a distraction at work, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers 2017 employee financial wellness survey.

Student loan repayment and identify theft protection are “hot” products, explains Joe Ellis, employee benefit consultant at brokerage CBIZ. The products are rising in popularity and usage for different reasons. “Identity theft protection has risen because it is so prevalent in the news,” he says. “Student loans are one of the most fundamental issues affecting younger people.”

While identity theft protection plans have been around for more than a decade, today “it is on people’s minds a lot more with the advent of the internet growing,” says Rob Shestack, chairman and CEO of the Voluntary Benefits Association, a national non-profit trade association focused on voluntary benefits for employer groups. “It is becoming a concern of consumers and one of the hottest conversations of the benefit side,” he adds.

Another way to meet the needs of the millennials is to adapt traditional products. Identity theft companies are exploring providing help with employee’s social media accounts and posts on these sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, that an employee may have regretted posting later in life.

“New features attract new generations,” says Doug Kreszl, vice president of business development at National Benefits Partners, a Devon, Penn.-based independent marketing organization for voluntary employee benefits and worksite insurance programs. “The younger generation doesn’t care if their credit card is stolen. It’s how you position to that generation.”

“From that prospective, a large array of voluntary and increased demand from a millennial workforce, allows an employer to link into that to provide choice and allow the rest of an organization to customize what is timely and relevant to them and their families,” he says. “It is not so much about product but more about helping to link the need to that product offering.”

Making the connection
Advisers need to pay attention to trends in non-insurance voluntary because they “need to know everything that is going on in the industry,” says Shestack, who is also president of health and productivity at consultancy Global Healthcare Resources.

If advisers don’t, they risk losing their accounts, Ellis adds. “If I go into an employer who is using another adviser who hasn’t paid attention to this and I bring up all these strategies of attracting, retaining, rewarding employees, the other adviser is going to be on their heels to compete,” he warns.

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