Millennials, Voluntary Benefits and Family Matters

How to reach workers who may not be as young as you think they are

(Photo: Thinkstock) (Photo: Thinkstock)

Millennials have been considered the youngest generation in the workplace for many years, but the reality is the oldest millennials are 36 years old, and many are beginning to start families. While starting a family can be exciting, it also can be financially challenging. The USDA reported that parents should expect to pay roughly $233,610 to raise a child until they are 17 years old.

This number is based on basic expenses for things like health care, food and education. The number doesn’t account for the unexpected expenses associated with accidents or chronic illnesses. These types of unanticipated medical expenses can be financially crippling for a young family. A 2015 Federal Reserve System survey showed that 22% of the participating individuals experienced a major unexpected medical expense that they had to pay for out of pocket in the prior year. Forty-six percent of those who said they had a major medical expense reported that they currently owed debt from that expense.

With the increase in employer-sponsored high-deductible health plans, gaps in medical coverage are becoming increasingly more common, requiring employees to pay larger sums out of pocket. However, these gaps can be reduced through the purchase of voluntary insurance benefits. Not only do voluntary products provide coverage for working parents, but they also are designed to provide coverage for children.

To demonstrate to your clients’ millennial employees how voluntary insurance can help compensate for these coverage gaps, consider how you can focus on the family protection aspects of accident and critical illness insurance in your sales this year.

Protecting the Family

The need for additional financial protection will catch the attention of most millennials, but particularly those who have little ones in daycare, school and extracurricular activities. To help make the need for voluntary insurance realistic for millennial parents, I’ve found it can be helpful to use decision support tools, or at least real-life scenarios of how benefits are paid.

Interactive decision support tools help employees understand the need for certain coverages by providing employees with a personalized experience or recommendation. These decision support tools communicate the need for these products in short videos or claims examples.

For instance, a claims example about an accident insurance product could use a child’s sports injury to highlight what benefits an employee would receive. The example would provide information on the type of expenses incurred — deductibles, coinsurance, travel expenses — and then provide the actual dollar amount paid under the accident plan. Decision support tools often have a variety of scenarios for employees to select from based upon their own personal concerns or situation. This type of education can help highlight the importance of accident and critical illness coverage for millennials who may have devalued voluntary benefits previously.

Hospital (Thinkstock)

Preparing for the Accidents

Whether minor or catastrophic, accidents can happen to anyone. But not everyone is prepared to handle the costs associated with medical treatment and recovery following a child’s accidental injury.

Research collected by the CDC shows an average estimate of 8.6 million sports- and recreation-related injury episodes reported each year, 86% of which are among children 5 to 14 years. For parents with children participating in sports, accident insurance could help reduce out-of-pocket medical expenses for trips to the emergency room or urgent care caused by these unexpected accidents.

Additionally, there are carriers that cover transportation and lodging expenses for injuries sustained in a covered accident occurring more than 100 miles from their home. Since accidents don’t always happen close to home, these benefits can provide employees with peace of mind knowing that they will have some coverage of those additional expenses of traveling to be with their child while he or she is recovering.

Coping with Severe Illness

Most children make it to adulthood with nothing more serious than colds, cuts and scrapes; but parents can’t take good health for granted. Families affected by serious childhood illnesses or conditions can be caught off guard – both emotionally and financially.

As you discuss critical illness coverage with your millennial clients, it can be useful to offer a detailed list of critical illnesses that are covered to help provide tangible examples. It also can be important to note the critical illness coverage can help cover medical-related expenses that aren’t covered by insurance, such as experimental treatment or medical deductibles.

Millennials who are considering starting a family may also be interested to know that some plans automatically cover children at birth if they are born with certain conditions, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida or cystic fibrosis. This coverage can often be included at no additional cost to the employee.

Starting an Unpredictable Journey

As you conclude your conversations, millennial parents will find it reassuring to know that no matter where life takes them, most voluntary insurance benefits are portable. This means coverage will remain in effect for the employee, their spouse and dependent children (until the age of 26), even if the employee moves to another job.

While no parent likes to imagine an accident or critical illness happening to themselves or their child, it’s important to highlight how voluntary insurance can help prevent unexpected life events from turning into a financial crisis.

--- Read New York regulators look over Genworth buyer on ThinkAdvisor.

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