Top 7 Tips for Selecting a Voluntary Benefits Partner
By Rob Ellis
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When it comes to providing a competitive benefits program for employees, your benefit dollars don’t go as far as they used to. Getting comprehensive coverage while controlling costs can be challenging. However, including voluntary benefits in your benefits program can be a viable solution. Employers win because they enhance their benefits offerings and still manage benefits program costs. Employees win because they can select the coverage they need and pay for it themselves through convenient payroll deduction. When your human resources person wears many different hats, it’s tough to effectively manage all the activities involved with building and maintaining a benefits program. Consider this advice when selecting a voluntary benefits provider:
- Seek companies willing to provide no-cost benefits communications and enrollment support as a value-add.
A strong voluntary benefits partner should be able to explain the entire benefits program to employees and help them make smart benefits decisions. Communicating the benefits available from the employer’s perspective – including your health insurance plan – helps employees understand the value of what the employer offers and realize where they may need to address their individual needs for more comprehensive coverage.
- Make sure the provider offers enrollment options across the enrollment spectrum.
Although having one-on-one sessions with a professional benefits representative is ideal, there may be instances in which employees can’t take advantage of personal enrollment sessions. In these cases, make sure the voluntary benefits provider can communicate to employees in other ways, such as group meetings, call centers and online self-enrollments – options that meet your company’s needs. In addition, a top-tier provider should be prepared to enroll employees with varying work shifts and at multiple locations — even across the country — while providing consistent communication and service.
- Ask how the provider handles administrative processes such as payroll deduction billing and reconciliation, as well as claims processing to make sure these processes won’t create more work for you.
Ask about electronic downloads of employee census information, electronic payment tools and paperless billing systems.
- Make sure the voluntary benefits partner is serious about providing customers with quality service.
The best partner is one that sets high standards for itself and then lets you know how it measures up. Ask the provider what it considers quality service and how it measures its success.
- Analyze the provider’s local service after the sale.
Quality service at the provider’s home office is a definite plus, but you’ll also need local service representatives who can be there in person regularly enroll new employees and advise your HR department.
- Look for a provider with a broad product portfolio.
Voluntary benefits provide protection in many areas such as disability income, hospital confinement indemnity, cancer, critical illness and accident insurance. Some providers also offer group versions of their individual products.
- Conduct your due diligence and look for a voluntary benefits partner with a successful history in worksite marketing and the desire to develop a long-term relationship with your company, your HR staff and your employees.
Rob Ellis is a district general agent in Omaha, Neb. for Colonial Supplemental Insurance products and services.
Colonial Supplemental Insurance is the marketing brand of Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company. Colonial is a market leader in providing voluntary insurance to employees and their families through the workplace, along with personal benefits communication, enrollment capabilities and a commitment to service.
Article Submitted On: June 01, 2005