Worksite Planning

Benefits: Engineering Family Financial Security

Navigate three Voluntary Life plan challenges for easier enrollment, onboarding

by Joi Tillman

Joi Tillman is vice president, voluntary benefits at Sun Life Financial U.S., overseeing Sun Life’s extensive voluntary portfolio and end-to-end enrollment services. Visit

Part II in a two-part series on the voluntary portfolio. Read Part I here.

Voluntary Life insurance is a sought-after benefit and employees expect it to be offered through their employer. The increase in financial security to the employee’s family outweighs the additional administrative tasks required to install and maintain the plan. Yet it can be hard to appreciate the benefit when you’re in the thick of strategizing enrollment and getting ready to deduct premium.

Based on a qualitative study of 36 brokers who sell group benefits and 28 employers who have at least one ancillary benefit, we learned that brokers and employers agree on the benefits and challenges of offering voluntary life.
For Voluntary Life, brokers and employers agree on…

The benefits . . .

More coverage at a low cost

Easily accessible, at work

Simple plan

…and the challenges

Evidence of Insurability

Communicating benefits

Correct deduction reporting

Navigating the challenges

How easy or hard it is to manage evidence of insurability depends on a number of factors including the plan design, how well the plan is communicated to employees, and how quickly the employee submits the application and receives a decision from the carrier partner. The impact of all of this determines the volume of Evidence of Insurability (EOI) applications and whether or not deduction reporting needs to be amended after the first bill. Here are tips for navigating these challenges for a smoother enrollment and onboarding experience.

The increase in financial security to the employee’s family outweighs the additional administrative tasks required to install and maintain the plan...

1. Offer an adequate Guaranteed Issue amount
Within the survey referenced above, brokers told us that a standard group Voluntary Life plan offers one to five times salary or increments of $10,000, up to a $500,000 maximum, with a $100,000 or $150,000 Guaranteed Issue amount. As an example, Jane has a $50,000 annual salary (approximate median for U.S. workers). Her company’s Voluntary Life incremental plan allows up to a $150,000 Guaranteed Issue amount. This Guaranteed Issue threshold means she can have an additional three times her annual salary, on top of her basic life amount of one times her salary, without having to answer health questions.

2. Include opportunities to increase coverage each year
If Jane chose two times her salary for budgetary reasons, she can subsequently increase her Voluntary Life coverage by $10,000 each year, increasing her coverage from $100,000 in year 1 to $110,000 in year 2 and so on, without answering health questions until she passes the Guaranteed Issue amount.

3. Strategize your enrollment with your employees in mind
The simple truth is that most employees don’t have access to financial advice when it comes to choosing coverage. This may mean that they need more education than what you may originally plan for. Choose a partner that can educate employees on a personal level and provide for online enrollment, thus taking most of the enrollment burden away from the HR team.

4. Time Management
Schedule ample time to collect EOI between the close of the enrollment period and the effective date (we suggest three weeks). This provides time for employees who want more coverage to submit EOI and receive their determinations, allowing whomever is in charge of enrollment to provide a final census before the first bill, resulting in correct deduction reporting.