closing the gap

One in Five Working Americans Fail Employee Benefits IQ Quiz

Many employees overestimate understanding of benefits; Less than half believe their employer is doing a good job educating them about benefits

NEW YORK, N.Y., Nov. 2, 2016 — The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® today released Closing The Gap, the second set of findings from the fourth annual Guardian Workplace Benefits StudySM that addresses the low employee benefits IQ of working Americans and suggests how their lack of knowledge may impair financial wellness.

The Guardian is one of the nation’s largest mutual life insurers and a leading provider of employee benefits,

While 80 percent of working Americans believe they understand their benefits very well, only 49 percent demonstrate they actually do. Responding to a 10-question quiz on benefits coverage and terminology, individuals averaged a score of 72 (letter grade ‘C’).

While one in five working Americans received an “F” grade:

  • One in ten early boomers received an “F” grade.
  • One in four millennials received an “F” grade.
  • One in four employees admits making benefit selections is more of a guessing game than an educated decision.

How well do employees actually understand what they are choosing?

The results of the quiz revealed that employees are better informed about medical insurance compared to other supplemental health benefits, such as critical illness (57 percent did not realize that the benefit payment can be applied to a wide range of out-of-pocket costs) along with disability insurance (46 percent did not understand that an elimination period is the time from when their claim is approved until they begin receiving disability income payments). Many workers also encounter problems with commonly used insurance terms such as guaranteed issue and portability.

This raises questions about how well employees understand what they are signing up for during the benefits selection process. Only 47 percent of working Americans feel their employer is doing a good job educating them about how to use their benefits — a significant drop from 66 percent in 2014.

“Today, working Americans want greater access to insurance benefits via the workplace. But more choice requires more effective benefits communication and decision-support tools that meet the needs of increasingly diverse groups,” said Dave Mahder, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Group and Worksite Markets. “It is critical for all employees, and notably millennials, to fully grasp how benefits like medical, supplemental health and disability insurance can work together to provide the financial protection they need. An effective benefits enrollment experience adds significant value for working Americans, as well as their employers.”

Closing the Gap

More choice requires more effective benefits communication and decision-support tools that meet the needs of increasingly diverse groups.

Closing the Gap revealed that working Americans are looking for a much improved experience this benefits enrollment season – one that includes:

  • Clearer, consumer-friendly language;
  • More personalized recommendations and tailored messaging;
  • Expert guidance to answer questions and validate choices;
  • Online tools/interactive media to support learning and decision-making.

For more information about Guardian’s Workplace Benefits or to obtain a copy of Closing the Gap from The Guardian Workplace Benefits StudySM: Fourth Annual 2016, please visit here.

For more information on how employees can optimize their workplace benefits coverage, please visit Guardian’s online education resources on GuardianAnytime.




About the Survey
The 4th Annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study was fielded in the spring of 2016 and consisted of two online surveys: one among 1,204 benefits decision-makers (employers) and another among 1,700 working Americans (employees), allowing us to examine benefits issues from both perspectives.
About Guardian
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian) is one of the largest mutual life insurers with $7.3 billion in capital and $1.5 billion in operating income (before taxes and dividends to policyholders) in 2015. Founded in 1860, the company has paid dividends to policyholders every year since 1868. Its offerings range from life insurance, disability income insurance, annuities, and investments to dental and vision insurance and employee benefits. The company has approximately 8,000 employees and a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 70 agencies nationwide.