Voluntary benefits have come a long way since I was a broker conducting in-person, paper enrollment meetings with my carrier partners for voluntary supplemental life. Today, voluntary benefits continue to grow at a staggering pace, which was reflected in the theme of the 2022 LIMRA Annual Conference: “Uncertain Times – Unprecedented Opportunities.”
The Critical Value of Voluntary Benefits
The pandemic exposed unmet needs we feel now. Beyond the scramble among employers to expand voluntary benefit options to hire and keep employees, there is clearly room to improve the employer and employee experience to:
- understand what the employee’s motivation is;
- understand what voluntary benefit options meet their needs best; and
- improve their financial security during uncertain times through voluntary benefits.
According to findings from Willis Towers Watson’s 2021 Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey, 94% of large employers believe that voluntary benefits will be more important to their total rewards strategy going forward, compared with 36% of employers who deemed them important in 2018. In response, there are many more products now available including critical illness, supplemental health, voluntary life, pet, legal and the list goes on.
I attended the LIMRA Annual Conference session, “The Critical Value of Voluntary Benefits,” that detailed solutions available from insurance carriers, enrollment vendors and decision-support technology to help employers and employees address the complexities of the enrollment process that have arisen with growing benefits choices.
Panelists from Prudential, Unum, Voya, The Standard, ADP, Corestream, and Nayya shared how they are using data and analytics regarding buying patterns, generational needs and the “why” of various life events to improve the experience and engagement for employees.
I had several takeaways from my perspective representing a core system SaaS technology provider for group carriers.
The omni of it all
“Omnichannel” is a phrase that’s getting tossed around a lot. It’s buzzy and sounds fantastic – if only we knew exactly what it means! Generally, it refers to seamless customer experiences that occur across contact channels. More specific to the group benefits industry, one of the better examples I’ve heard came out of this session: “Meeting the employee where they are in life and at work.” To wit, making sure the employee receives the same experience whether they are interacting with the benefits provider through email, chat, text, telephone or portal. The benefit to carriers is a simpler interface with the insured (employee) and the ability to collect better data to measure enrollment, experience and future voluntary benefits product strategy.
The whys have it
For years, the challenge has been engaging employees in the benefits available to them. Besides reaching out to employees in whatever way they prefer to communicate, the decision to purchase voluntary benefits comes down to a clear answer to why:
- Why should I sign up and pay for this benefit?
- Why do I need it?
- Are you communicating to me with real-life examples that meet me where I am in my life?
- Is the decision support and enrollment technology innovative in giving me a full picture of the financial benefit of voluntary programs?
Our industry’s next pressing challenge to add value is ensuring employees use their benefits at time of need and/or claim. We can – and should — leverage technology to make it easier for the claimant to submit and file a claim for voluntary benefits. FINEOS Claims technology has built-in triggers and automation to manage the whole life event so an employee faced with a time of crisis does not have to remember to call or apply for a supplemental benefit they have.
Any one of us faced with such an event should be able to expect this kind of access to our benefits. It is incumbent upon all of the stakeholders in the industry to march together toward transformational change for voluntary benefits. Leveraging LIMRA enables us all to communicate and collaborate to develop standards to increase efficiency, reduce cost and improve the experience for our customers and their employees.
To find out how the FINEOS Platform claims solution can improve your customers’ journeys, contact us today.