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There is no substitute for experience

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Voluntary benefits can be a deceptively complex operation. When things run smoothly, providing benefits may seem simple. But, there are nuances and complexities behind the scenes that create a smooth experience for employers and their employees. For brokers, this is why a carrier that has experience in the industry is so important; their deep understanding and familiarity with the inner workings of the complex voluntary benefits process is vital to a positive outcome.

Challenges in the market

The growth of the voluntary benefits industry has seen a number of new carriers enter into the voluntary market. For many of these carriers and, especially those from the group world, it can be a challenge adapting to a very different environment than what they are used to. There are some rather obvious differences, such as the fact that they are now working with an employee’s money as opposed to an employer’s money, which can make things difficult for less-experienced carriers.

Aside from the surface differences, the difficulties facing many of these carriers become apparent when looking at some of the nuances of offering voluntary benefits. For example, if a person wanted to cancel his or her voluntary policy, this person would expect the request to be effective immediately. In the group world, a cancelled policy wouldn’t take effect until the end of the month and the carrier would continue to collect fees until that point.

From a management and billing standpoint, this is a very different experience and one which is far more complex since you can see these changes come at varying times throughout the month from many different policyholders. A carrier has to be nimble enough to accommodate requests like these that come at an individual level and inexperience in doing so can lead to challenges for the broker and the employer.

While this is only one small example, when you multiply these kinds of personal, specific challenges across the many finely-tuned parts that create the process of offering voluntary benefits, it is easy to see how it can be a larger issue. What about offering customized employee communication? Or employers who have unique billing and payment cycles? From enrollments, to licensing, to employee communication, to billing and benefits management there are several variables that need to be considered. An experienced voluntary benefits carrier who will listen to the specific needs of the customer and provide a proven roadmap to a solution, will be better equipped to handle the unique needs of their clients.

A secondary market

Additionally challenging, many of the group carriers entering the voluntary market will use voluntary products as a secondary market alongside their group products. As such, they may not dedicate the necessary time or attention to voluntary benefits. A possible lack of resources coupled with a lack of experience makes it easy to see the challenges they will encounter with such a complex industry. 

When all is said and done…

If done right, voluntary benefits end up being a highly customized experience when you take into account all the details that need attention. Harnessing all the complex parts is difficult, but rewarding when everything comes together. When all is said and done, there is no substitute for experience, which is why a voluntary carrier with a long history of success can be the simplest solution for brokers and employers.

Posted on August 10, 2017 in Industry

Tagged as Trustmark Voluntary Benefit Sales Voluntary vs. Group