While Voluntary/Worksite benefits have been around for years - I started getting my feet wet in 1986 - the number of "Choices" in Carriers and Plans has grown dramatically! There's more Demand, more Choices, and more Responsibilities!
Let's start with some simple Tips for Brokers - The Dos, Don'ts and Things to Remember!
- Do - Team-Up! If you are not a Broker familiar with the complexities of the Voluntary/Worksite Market, consider teaming-up with a Specialist - preferably not a captive or semi-captive who represents one Carrier!
- Don't - Offer too Much to Soon! It takes time for the Employees and Employers to understand the process and the value of the Plans, Programs, or Services!
- Don't - Assume Employees know what they Want, Need, or Can Afford! Surveys only work if the Employee already understands the value of the Plans - for themselves and their Family. Select Plans that have worked with Employees in similar Industries, Income Brackets, and with the same Demographics!
- Remember! - The value of the Plans offered extends beyond the Individual Employee to their Families. Family members should be included in the Decision-Making Process.
- Don't - Confine the Employer, Employees and Yourself to One Carrier No single Carrier has the best of all Plans, Programs and Services. The number of Carriers of Plans, Programs, and Service - Insurance and non-insurance based - have grown dramatically in the past several years. Carefully select Plans to meet the needs of the Employer, Employees and their Families! Check for - Price Stability, Guaranteed or Simplified Issue, and Portability!
- Remember! - Consider first - not last - how to provide Employee Education, Communication and Enrollment. In addition, the Data generated by the Plans, Programs, and Services will need to be sorted and distributed to Carriers, TPAs, Payroll, etc.
- Do - Help the Employer and Employees Save Money! Include "Tax Advantaged" Plans in your strategy. They save the Employers and the Employees money and are appreciated by participants. These include: Section 125 (Premium Conversion, POP Plans); Flexible Spending Accounts (Medical Reimbursement Plans); Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts (Dependents young and old); and Public/Parking Transportation Reimbursement Accounts.
- Don't Forget to Integrate Plans! - Make sure the Voluntary/Worksite Plans "Integrate" with the traditional "Core" Benefit Plans. The Employees must understand what is and is not covered and their contributions to the existing Plans, Programs, and Services.
- Remember! - The Management Team and Department Heads must "Buy-In" to the Strategy and understand the "Value" of the Plans, Programs, and Services offered to their Employees and the Families. Have separate meetings with them first. Ask for their Help! During the Enrollment Period have "Pulse Meetings" to handle Problems, Complaints, and to get Recommendations!
- Do - Determine in advance the "Method" of Enrollment! There are a number of methods for enrollment available and these can be used jointly. They include: one-on-one/face -to-face; internet based; call center; and paper forms. When using a Carrier for the Enrollment, closely "Monitor" that they are properly representing All Plans offered to the Employees! Spot check for "Overselling" and "Pressure to Buy"!
- Do - Determine who will Pay For the Enrollment! Compensating for the Enrollment should be determined early in the Plan selection process. Commission Splits and or Fees may be involved! It's best to be transparent with the Employer!
- Remember! The "Success" or "Failure" of the Voluntary/Worksite Plans and Strategy will ultimately be measured by two statistics: 1) Penetration - How many Employees participate in a given Plan. Program, or Service. 2) Persistency - How many years Employees remain on Plans, Programs and Services in which they are Enrolled! These stats. will determine the quality and effectiveness of the Education Process, Employee Satisfaction, Carrier Profitability, Broker Income, and whether or not the Employer is satisfied and expands on the Voluntary/Worksite Plan in future years.
Types of Plans to Suggest to Employers - Take a look at the width and breadth of Voluntary Benefits at the Site Map on www.benefitplace.biz. In the first year of the Plan, Employees appreciate access to Plans that augment any company Disability or Life Insurance that may be in place. Examples of these types of plans include Short-Term Disability, Critical Illness, and Permanent or Term Life Insurance Plans. Other types of Plans include those that fill the "Gaps" between the cost of common in- and out-patient services and the Employee's Deductibles.
Voluntary (Worksite) and Ancillary Benefits.
Voluntary/Worksite Plans provide Employees "Choice"! The Plans are chosen at the Cost and Discretion of the Employee - or with an Employer Contribution - and are most often payroll-deducted. Offering Employees "Choice" creates important goodwill, increased productivity, and reduced Employee turnover for the Employer. The Plans also generate significant income for the Broker(s) implementing the Plan Design!
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