As industry experts and benefit brokers discuss the continuing rise of voluntary benefits — such as critical illness and accident insurance — to fill the gaps left by more and more consumer driven health plans, there are other more non-traditional voluntary products waiting in the wings that benefit advisers should be aware of. Rob Shestack, senior vice president and national practice leader for voluntary benefits at AmWins Group Benefits in North Kingstown, R.I., says there are three unconventional products his practice is “seeing a lot more of.”

See related: Could voluntary products see rate hikes?

1. Home warranty: This is different from homeowners insurance, which covers fire, theft, liability if a guest has an accident in your home, etc. Instead, home warranty covers the products in your home including your iPhone, computer, refrigerator, microwaves — “it covers things that you purchase, if they break,” Shestack says. How does it work? You pay a monthly amount for the home warranty product. Then, if something breaks, you find out the deductible (it varies by product type) that you’d have to pay to have it fixed with the rest covered by insurance. Shestack says he has this voluntary benefit himself and put it to use recently.

“My daughter has a friend who spilled milk on her Macbook Pro,” he says. “Your homeowners won’t cover that because it was accidental and Apple won’t cover it for that same reason. I called my home warranty vendor and they would cover it for a $150 deductible. It ended up being some $800 to fix, so it was worth it.” Shestack says it could make a lot of sense in today’s day and age as people buy more and more pieces of technology — expensive TVs are found in many rooms throughout some houses and more and more tablets are popping up as children’s belongings.

2. Cyber security: This is for when your children are under 18 years old and you want to monitor their Web surfing on Twitter, Facebook and other sites, Shestack says. He’s quick to say that it’s not spying; it’s simply a product programmed to detect key words so parents can help keep their children out of the wrong chat rooms and broadly monitor their activity for safety reasons.

3. Identity theft: With an increasing number of concerning events in recent months, one industry expert says it’s smart to choose a product that focuses on quick monitoring and damage control. Adam Levine, founder and chairman of Identity Theft 911 in New York, says products that tout prevention aren’t as effective as those that manage an actual ID theft situation quickly and effectively.  

See related: ID theft products moving from prevention to monitoring and damage control

TJ Gibb, vice president of voluntary benefits at Humana, cautions advisers to ensure that they’re not just throwing voluntary product ideas ad-hoc at their clients. “Think about, what products do [their] people need, rather than just product placement,” he says. “[You] really should have a thoughtful strategy for voluntary … it’s really becoming part of the overall benefit fabric.”

Shestack predicts that voluntary benefits will continue to see a positive trend through, at least, the year 2020 and these new products are some that will add to the upward trend.

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