During annual open enrollment, the focus of most people’s attention is squarely on health insurance coverage, and yet the season is an ideal time to consider other benefit elections, too. Although group life insurance is one of the most commonly overlooked benefits among people of working age, says Brian Lelio, vice president of group life products at MetLife, it’s also one of the best value buys in the industry, with as much as $500,000 in coverage available for the equivalent daily cost of a cup of coffee.
Part of the challenge in offering group life insurance involves tailoring different educational approaches for customers in an industry that has traditionally leaned on a one-size-fits-all pitch. Today, “the group life insurance industry recognizes that participants want to communicate in a way that makes sense to them,” Lelio says. Millennials may respond better to engagement via mobile devices or social media campaigns; baby boomers often prefer paper-based campaigns, like a poster or flyer in the workplace. Neither is better than the other, but each has a different impact with different audiences.
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“It’s about communicating with an insurance-eligible customer at a moment in time that matters to them,” Lelio says. “Yesterday was paper, today is media, tomorrow is developing life-event communications.”
Outside of the open enrollment period, group life plan participants only increase their coverage around a life event such as a marriage or the birth of a child, Lelio says. The future of marketing to prospective clients involves connecting with them around such moments, and he believes that the workplace can be an environment in which to have those conversations. Benefits like employer-provided life insurance engender loyalty from workers, he says, and many employees turn to their benefits administrators when seeking guidance about how to select life insurance.
“If employers embrace and leverage the tools offered by the group life insurance carriers, they’ll find opportunities to engage employees in more meaningful ways,” Lelio says. “It’s [about] generating awareness about those programs and [creating] an opportunity to engage in those programs.”
Advisers can also help drive supplemental life insurance purchases by finding ways to tie in additional benefits like will preparation or assistance in drafting advance directives — services that aren’t contingent upon death to activate, he said.
“You’re tying two very important things: coverage and a service that often follows that coverage, and to [buy it] outside the workplace would cost that participant significant dollars,” Lelio says.
Furthermore, just because most group policy purchasers are of working age at the time of their policy purchase doesn’t mean they won’t soon be considering coverage for their retirement years, too. First Jersey Insurance agent Andrew Lochhead says that in addition to considering their life insurance needs at the time of open enrollment, many policy purchasers may assessing their upcoming coverage needs as they prepare to exit the workplace.
“Open enrollment is a chance for people to reassess their plans for the following year,” Lochhead says. “They’re reassessing their health situation; going over their assets. People 65 and older don’t need a big term; most of them have paid off their houses. Once they retire, they will have lost that life insurance unless they want to take that over at a higher rate.”
“Annual enrollment is that time period for all stakeholders where awareness is at a heightened level,” Lelio said. “Plan sponsors are thinking about communication. Brokers are thinking about their plans and making sure they’re ready. The population has advanced knowledge, heightened awareness, and all the tools are available for them to make an engaged decision.
“It’s that window of communication among your spouse, your partner and your employer,” he said.
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