Introduce your clients to a new world of ‘custom designed’ plans
by Eric SilvermanMr. Silverman is Founder and Owner of Voluntary Disruption, the “adviser’s adviser,” a division of Silverman Benefits Group (SBG). He is an Amazon “Best Selling” Author featured in the new book: Breaking Through The Status Quo. Connect with him by voice and text at (443) 676-0340, by email; firstname.lastname@example.org, or at his website –voluntarydisruption.com. Part III in a four-part series.
In today’s market, the brokers and advisers who are most likely to attract and retain clients are those willing to adapt and embrace change, and a key factor in each broker’s performance is their approach to enhanced (voluntary) benefits. Whether you entrust one carrier with your strategy, develop an in-house program, or partner with a carrier-agnostic firm, being innovative with your approach is what will set you apart from stale brokers happy to rest on their status quo strategies which no longer serve employee’s best interests in a rapidly changing industry.
Your first step should be to let your client know it is your objective to eliminate benefit redundancy, and with it, any wasteful employee overspend that may have occurred during an initial product-dump by whomever first installed their enhanced benefits. Their strategy may have led to a great commission grab for the original carrier rep and/or broker, but it comes with little regard for the total healthcare plan strategy.
The next step then needs to be building a benefits suite that is tailored around and supports the medical plan(s) and elevates it with innovative products and implementation, to transform your clients into educated and engaged benefits users. To do this, you have to pull yourself out of the traditional mindset around “core” benefits.
Short-term disability, long-term disability, life, dental and vision, alongside group health insurance; these are considered the “core” or what I call “traditional” group products which brokers often recommend to client groups. To drive engagement, they are often heavily subsidized or even fully funded by the employer. These can provide the base foundation for a company’s benefits package, but they should not be the totality of what you bring.
The key is to take your client’s “traditional” package and lead them to transform it into an unbeatable, next generation offering.
For starters, introduce enhanced plans such as accident, hospital, and critical illness, that are designed to work in tandem with each other. Consider designing a robust maternity-specific package for your clients through short term disability and a hospitalization plan that helps cover deductibles and maternity leave. Help to mitigate your client’s yearly workers’ compensation increases — whether you handle their P&C or not — by proactively suggesting a company funded or partially funded off-the-job accident product to help lessen the blow of Monday morning claims.
Have you explored recommending employer-funded gap plans? When a tough industry or a bad couple years of claims history forces you to look at higher deductible medical plans to keep affordability, gap plans can provide a cushion and help employees maintain coverage with minimum impact on their wallets.
Along with that, “traditional” plans themselves have changed over time to be more broadly applicable. Many term-life products have expanded their benefits and eligibility, with some offerings going past age 100 or building in long-term care riders that can pay up to three times the death benefit for LTC coverage. Updating your traditional plans instead of renewing “as is” can bring innovation that make those investments go further – besides, many times we see that these types of coverage haven’t been reviewed in depth, in multiple years.
Beyond traditional and enhanced benefits, there’s a world of products and services that add value to your client relationships.
- Pet coverage
- Single point consolidated billing
- Benefit administration systems
- Zero-cost Section 125 plan document preparation
- Flexible spending
- Student loan programs
- Discount prescriptions
- Identity theft and fraud protection
- Telemedicine services
- “Smart Benefits Technology” apps
- Thoughtful employer funding strategies
These benefits are increasingly asked for by existing and prospective employers and can help with one of the most important pieces of a benefits package, which is communication, education, and engagement. You can put together the best benefits package, however if employers and employees don’t use them effectively, then you’ll likely find yourself replaced by another broker who will promise more.
Benefits such as pet coverage and identity theft can be great for getting employee attention, and getting them to the enrollment, so that they can be properly educated about their benefit options. Smart Benefits Technology, often in the form of benefits apps, can also be an incredible tool for creating smart benefits users. They can have all their benefits information, contacts, and forms in one location, on hand 24/7. These apps can also incorporate services like telemedicine, so they are calling a doctor first, instead of driving up claim experiences for Urgent Care or ER trips for a routine illness that can be treated with a quick chat and prescription order.
On the employer side, back-end streamlining can make you indispensable to a client, with billing consolidation to reduce time spent reconciling invoices, ben admin systems which track benefits and employee records in one easy to navigate space, and a smart benefits app which reduces repetitive HR steps for forms, questions, and contact numbers.
Along with additions to your benefits package, a conversation should be had about how employer funding is being allocated. Dental and Vision plans that are entirely or heavily employer funded are popular, but don’t protect your employee’s livelihood. Employees likely won’t end up homeless if they must pay full price for glasses or a cavity, so why are those the top employer funded plans? For the same amount of investment in a typical dental and vision plan, employers could fund short-term disability and life/AD&D insurance for their employees, which protects their paychecks and their families in the event of an illness or injury. Educating employers on the benefits which truly protect their employees needs, rather than their wants, can be a key tool in creating an effective benefits package.
If you don’t offer all these services and non-insurance products in-house, align with a strong enhanced benefits partner who is experienced with bringing all of these avenues to the forefront of your client conversations. Creating a strong partnership with an enhanced benefits partner frees up your bandwidth to focus on your areas of expertise and brings value to your client relationships that will revolutionize their benefits package. Moving beyond the “core” benefits creates effective, educated clients that will be much more likely to ignore other brokers and advisors who come knocking at their door.