By Brian Summers
What do you do that differentiates yourself from all the other brokers out there? Do you offer a higher level of customer service? Do you specialize in a specific industry? What if you could differentiate yourself by offering your client's more resources and making them feel like they are receiving a higher level of service without incurring any additional overhead?
Do I have your attention now? Well then, why aren't you offering voluntary benefits?
Many voluntary carriers are offering services well beyond the traditional policies such as core enrollments, dependent verifications, benefits counseling, benefit statements, access to human resource Web sites for your clients at no cost.
According to a small business study by LIMRA in 2009, 78 percent of employers with more than 1,000 employees offer voluntary benefits to their employees. Only 27 percent of employers with less than 100 employees offer voluntary benefits to their employees.
Voluntary benefits and the added value services they offer not only allow you to generate a new revenue streams, but allow you to help your smaller clients by offering "big company benefits." These benefits and programs can help your client's attract and retain better employees.
In most cases, the standard enrollment goes something like this:
- Group presentations are held and you, the broker, or your representative speak about the plan being offered.
- Many employees are timid about asking questions. Think about, who wants to ask a personal question during a group presentation?
- Many employees leave this presentation confused, and do not fully appreciate the benefits being offered.
- Employees receive a one-on-one enrollment with a benefits expert.
- Employees feel more comfortable asking questions.
- Employees understand and appreciate their benefits more.
MetLife's 2009 Study of Employee Benefit Trends shows a direct correlation between benefits satisfaction, loyalty, and the benefits communication employees receive. The more employees know about their benefits, the more likely they are to be happy in their jobs.
We all know one thing: If the employees are happy and loyal to their company, that means the boss is usually pretty happy, as well.
Beyond the enrollments, many voluntary carriers offer the ability to provide benefit statements or total compensation statements. This is one of the most useful tools that you, the broker, can use to maintain and develop your business. Imagine being able to provide these statements to all of your client's employees at no cost to your company?
Employer's love these statements because it allows the employees to fully understand and appreciate the benefits being offered by their company. We have all heard employee's complaining about how much their health insurance costs, but many of these employees are shocked when they find out how much their employer is contributing.
Many employees feel underpaid and underappreciated. Total compensation statements allow the employee to learn just how much they are really worth. Their salary may be $35,000 per year, but they do not understand that they really are worth an additional 30 percent or more when you add in their benefit package.
It is important to note that beyond these services, you are also offering these clients additional benefits such as short term disability, life insurance, accident coverage, cancer coverage, critical illness, and MediGap policies. It is important to note that you and the employer decide which coverage is to be offered. I don't believe in offering a lot of these products at once. In some cases, it can be more confusing. Try keeping your enrollments to no more than three to four policies.
As the health care debate rambles on, it is more important than ever that your clients do not perceive you as only their broker. Talk to your client's about something rather than rate increases. Tell them a different story and advise them about the additional services available. Develop a benefit strategy for your client's that is centered on rising health care costs. Develop a strategy for client retention, and show your commitment to them by taking the time to address the needs of their employees. Best of all, you can do a lot of this at no direct cost.
Last week, I had the opportunity to conduct a Webinar for a small broker. Before the Webinar, he was just another broker who offered health benefits to his clients.
After our meeting, he is a brokerage who offers:
- Employee education services
- One-on-one benefits counseling
- Custom benefits portfolio
- Benefit statements
- Enrollment services
- Case-scrubbing services
- Section 125 premium only plans at no cost to clients
- A human resources Web site for his clients to use at no cost
If an employer is looking to choose a broker, who do you think they want to work with? The one who offers the same generic services or the broker who has differentiated themselves from the rest of the pack?
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