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2012 outlook: Top 6 trends in worksite benefits

Critical illness insurance continues to attract new customers Critical illness insurance continues to attract new customers

Critical illness insurance provides vital out-of-pocket protection for both medical and non-medical costs associated with major life events, including cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

Voluntary insurance sales persevere Voluntary insurance sales persevere

Increasing workforce diversity and the need to offer choices to employees with widely varying needs will drive an uptick in sales. “There’s a big need for better education of workers about the need to protect their most valuable assets with life and disability coverage,” points out Jeff Koll, Colonial Life’s assistant vice president of life and disability products.

Brokers looking to enhance their revenue stream should consider the voluntary benefits market Brokers looking to enhance their revenue stream should consider the voluntary benefits market

Uncertainty in the market and reduced major medical commissions because of health care reform changes are forcing brokers to look for new revenue sources. Voluntary benefits will continue to grow as a simple solution. “Brokers are finding they can get in this market with little training and no overhead by partnering with an experienced voluntary benefits carrier,” says Jay Hutchins, Colonial Life’s vice president of broker marketing and sales. Additionally, the majority of employers — 59% — already work with brokers on their employee benefits plans.

Wellness programs becoming more prevalent Wellness programs becoming more prevalent

With rising health care costs, employers are increasingly seeing the value of workplace wellness programs as a way to control claim costs and premium increases. Wellness-related offerings from health screening tools to online nurse services will become a bigger part of benefits providers’ value-added services.

More online decision-support tools attract employees More online decision-support tools attract employees

As employers continue to push benefits decision-making responsibility to their employees, look for a proliferation of websites and interactive tools to help plan participants find which ones meet their unique needs.
Employees need an entertaining interactive tool so they can individualize their benefits education and explore their unique benefits needs.
Most employees don’t actively search for information about their benefits and they don’t dedicate a significant amount of time to learning more about them, research shows.

Cost containment of benefits plans is the main focus of government sector employers Cost containment of benefits plans is the main focus of government sector employers

Government employers are strongly feeling the effects of several years of reduced tax revenues, and now find themselves in the unfamiliar position of being forced to raise their employees’ share of the costs or reduce benefits. A recent survey of public sector human resources managers, Colonial Life says, shows 80% of them are looking at ways to reduce the cost of their employee benefits plans, and 58% say controlling costs is their top priority for their benefits programs.

Despite uncertainty in the market, Colonial Life predicts which areas brokers should focus on to achieve growth in the new year.

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