New Colonial Life report points brokers to benefits enrollment success

Research shows communication, technology and cost are top considerations

Overhead photo of four people meeting COLUMBIA, S.C. (Sept. 26, 2016) — Insurance benefits brokers can strengthen client satisfaction and their own revenue stream by better understanding the components of effective enrollments and long-term economic models, according to a new white paper released today by Colonial Life.

“The Enrollment Engine” uses industry and internal company research to illustrate the best technology, tactics and communication strategies brokers can use — both initially and long-term — to deliver effective benefits enrollments for their clients.

“With rising health costs and the increasing financial fragility of America’s workers, brokers play a critical role in helping employees understand and participate in the benefits programs they need to protect themselves and their families,” said Steve Vermette, vice president, Growth Market Solutions at Colonial Life. “Knowing the best practices for enrollments will help them ensure success, both for their clients and themselves.”

Start with strong benefits communication
Nearly all employees (98 percent) agree it’s important to understand their benefits — yet only a third say they actually understand them well, the report shows. That’s a big disconnect with employers: 90 percent of them think their benefits communication is effective. In addition, many employers don’t make the connection between effective communication, good participation in the benefits program, and overall benefits costs.

“Lower participation rates ultimately weaken employers’ ability to control overall benefit costs, resulting in higher long-term benefit expenses,” said Yuliya Babushkina, assistant research director at LIMRA.

Best practices in benefits communication include starting three weeks before the enrollment, using at least three different communication methods, and personalizing messages, the report says.

Combine high-tech with high-touch
Employers and workers have different enrollment preferences, too, the report points out. Half of employers prefer self-directed, online enrollments, while employees who participate in one-to-one sessions with a benefits counselor nearly unanimously say they’re important and helpful. Studies show individual meetings also generate the highest participation levels.

The answer is to offer multiple options, including the ability to seamlessly integrate core and benefit enrollments, Vermette said.

“Brokers can bring the most value to their clients by partnering with benefits providers that can connect different enrollment methods and benefits administration platforms, eliminating the need for a separate enrollment system and additional vendors,” he said.

Consider costs to maximize compensation
Effective communication and enrollment tools will drive stronger participation, leading to higher commissions. But commissions are only part of the equation, the report shows.

“Brokers need to carefully compare the long-term total commissions revenue along with the costs of using carrier enrollers, in-house enrollers and enrollment firms to maximize their income potential, now and in years to come,” Vermette said.

Download a copy of “The Enrollment Engine” white paper at ColonialLife.com.

About Colonial Life

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 80,000 businesses and organizations, representing more than 3 million of America’s workers and their families. For more information visit www.coloniallife.com or connect with the company at www.facebook.com/coloniallifebenefits, www.twitter.com/coloniallife and www.linkedin.com/company/colonial-life.