For the more than 500 industry professionals gathered in Las Vegas in mid-July for the 15th annual Workplace Benefits Mania, the conference served as a both an introduction into the world of voluntary benefits for the uninitiated and an affirmation that the growing field is the right place to be for veteran attendees.
In break-out sessions ranging from Building Equity Value in Your Firm to Dynamic Non-Insurance Products Clients Love, speakers and attendees alike expressed an appreciation for technological advances that allow for greater market penetration. But even more so, many reinforced their belief in the importance of one-on-one personal interaction, both during open enrollment and in the voluntary benefit communication process before and afterward. "If you really want to maximize this thing you have a responsibility," said Ron Agypt, VP of broker and market development with Aflac. "This is not a time to just be good at voluntary benefits. You have to have a differentiating marketing strategy."
It is crucial, said Agypt, to fill the education gap for employees and "become the trusted adviser that they really, really need," he added during a session on Aflac's annual Workforce Study.
There are four factors that prevent people from buying voluntary benefits, said David Cirulis, VP, voluntary workplace strategy with Lincoln Financial Group, during the opening keynote. They are: need, affordability, knowledge and convenience. Therefore, brokers must address these obstacles, respectively, by properly communicating the value of voluntary benefits, the flexibility in payment plans, the need behind obtaining voluntary benefits and how easily they integrate into an employee's benefit package.
"We're now viewed as a total package solution for the employer more than the industry ever has been," said Cirulis.
Cirulis cited a Deloitte study that found 62% of non-buyers report simply not being solicited to buy life insurance, while one in five of them are looking to buy it in the next one to two years. Now, he said, is a "prime opportunity to educate employers on what their benefit practices might be missing."
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