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Three Keys To Maximizing Enrollment In Worksite Disability Plans

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Three Keys To Maximizing Enrollment In Worksite Disability Plans


In an age of economic uncertainty and rising health care costs, worksite marketed employee benefit programs rapidly have emerged as an effective way for employers to offer a comprehensive array of benefits to employees while keeping their overall employee benefit costs in line.

In recent years, short-term and long-term disability coverages quickly have become two of the more popular offerings among employers.

The opportunity to purchase benefits at the worksite is appealing to employees as well. They can select the benefits and levels of protection that best suit their needs. Moreover, given that people today have greater access to tools, technologies and information to support them in their financial planning, employees are now better equipped than ever to make worksite product decisions.

For worksite disability insurers, maximizing enrollment and achieving high participation levels in worksite disability plans requires much more than offering an appealing contract to the group.

The insurer must also communicate effectively with employees about worker need for disability income protection and also about how this coverage works. When enrolling employees in worksite disability programs, they can benefit from applying the following three strategies. These will lead to increased participation as well as maximum employee and employer satisfaction.

1. Position the value of disability income protection within the context of life events.

It is difficult for anyone to contemplate the prospect of becoming disabled. Therefore, it can be challenging to get employees to consider planning for such an event.

Disability statistics can help by presenting a powerful story. Most employees understand the need for life insurance. However, few realize that nearly half of all mortgage foreclosures are due to a disability or that disabilities are 16 times more likely than death to cause foreclosure.

Given such facts, employees quickly grasp the need for disability income protection. This not only encourages new employees to sign up but it also reinforces current enrollees in their decision to participate. Increased persistency in plan participation is the result.

2. Understand the employees current financial situation.

Many employees are grossly underprepared for a sudden loss of income. Therefore, take some time to understand the employees current short- and long-term financial situation. How much does the employee have in savings? Is the family solely dependent on one income? How many children does the worker have? Is the person nearing retirement? What is the total household monthly budget? Answers will determine the extent to which the employee needs short-term disability protection and/or long-term disability protection.

Also take time to understand the nature of the employees job. Those who must have specialized skills and abilities–like health professionals, mechanics and carpentersparticularly can be susceptible to the short-term and long-term financial impact of a permanent or severe disability.

3. “Right sell. Right fit.”

After determining the level of need, it is then critical to sell the right level of protection. Dont get caught up selling the cost of the plan. Focus instead on the level of monthly benefit.

Sell a level that not only meets the workers true need but that also fits the persons budget. Not only will this ensure that employees have the appropriate level of coverage, it will also increase the likelihood of employees staying in the plan year after year. It will open the door to future sales opportunities, too.

It goes without saying that making the enrollment process as pain-free as possible will make the sale easier. Know your audience and tailor the enrollment process to fit its needs. For example, the most effective enrollments blend technology and touch.

But some groups require a greater level of personal attention than others. And some employers allow employees greater access to the Internet than do other employers. You will therefore need to create a variety of easy-to-understand tools which will help employees in various group situations understand their need for income protection and how disability insurance works.

Since worksite insurers face high acquisition costs in the first year, it is critical not only to be effective in enrolling employees at point of sale, but also to maintain and grow participation each year. This will allow for greater stability of risk and greater persistency–which you and the insurer will certainly enjoy!

is vice president of underwriting and client development for Disability RMS, a subsidiary of CORE INC., Portland, Maine. His e-mail is [email protected]

Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, September 1, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.