Accident, critical illness, life, hospital indemnity, short term disability, long term disability, dental, vision — to those of us who work in the industry, this is obviously a list of voluntary benefits. However, to employees who look at their insurance options once per year, this is a long and somewhat overwhelming list of insurance coverages they may not understand.

By using better education methods and tools for communicating about voluntary benefits in your enrollment approach, you can help change that thinking. Instead of seeing that list as overwhelming, employees can see it as a list of ways in which they can prepare themselves and their loved ones for the unexpected.

With the long list of insurance products available, employees have more benefit choices than ever before. However, an increased number of options can create a cluttered consideration set, resulting in many employees feeling overwhelmed and unaware on how new benefit options can help. This lack of understanding may translate to low participation rates overall and a lack of appreciation for what the employer is providing.

Also see:The 50 biggest benefit brokerages in the large-group market, part 2.”

To increase participation in voluntary insurance options, you can help your clients break through the clutter with better employee education. You can build a great educational program by working with a voluntary insurance carrier that offers decision support tools.

Changing the way we communicate about benefits
Interactive decision-support tools help employees understand the need for certain coverages by providing employees with a personalized experience or recommendation. Good decision-support tools communicate important product details in a concise way that resonates with employees in the typical short amount of time they take to make important benefit decisions.

Voluntary benefit carriers can help you and your clients by offering decision support tools with the following:

  • More online content: While still an important component of an enrollment strategy, a traditional approach to enrollment that includes companywide meetings with lengthy handouts or follow-up emails isn’t always preferred by employees. A recent LIMRA study noted that 70% of employees would want to use an online option to learn more about their benefits. Decision-support tools include online resources where company-specific enrollment information can be accessed when an employee is ready to make his or her benefits decision.
  • Mobile access: The Internet has changed the way we gather information. Today, it’s even more impactful as mobile technology is in the palm of our hands all day, every day. Not only do 90% of American adults own a cell phone, according to Pew Research Center, but 34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer. Good decision-support tools are mobile-friendly and accessible through a computer, table or phone.
  • Bite-sized content: Now everything must be accessible online and via mobile, which means the information must also be bite-sized. You can help your clients by looking for content that condenses and streamlines the main points of the product.
  • Videos: Videos are a very effective communication method, with almost two-thirds of U.S. adults now watching videos online, according to Pew. Look for a provider that has easily accessible, short videos that educate on the need and gaps, in addition to explaining the benefits. This provides employees with the information they need, without having them sit through an insurance lecture or reading through pages of content to get their basic questions answered.

Participation in voluntary benefits starts with better communication and education for employees. By working with a provider that delivers information that is easy to access and digestible, you can help your clients increase employee understanding, appreciation and enrollment.

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Kevin McNamara

Kevin McNamara

McNamara is a senior enrollment strategist at Standard Insurance Company (The Standard), and has worked in the voluntary benefits industry for more than 15 years.