When you sell a group life or disability income protection case, you may be tempted to consider the job complete and turn your attention to new prospects.

The fact is, your selling opportunities for that case have just begun. In todays benefit environment, employers are looking for ways to control costs yet still provide comprehensive, competitive benefit packages for their employees.

If you are looking for ways to maximize your relationship with your clients, recommending supplemental benefits to complement the employer-funded group plan is a great place to start.

Build on a solid foundation.
Group products constitute the backbone of an employers employee benefit program, and group disability insurance is a vital component of the mix. It provides employees with a good base of financial protection in the event that a disabling injury or illness prevents them from performing their normal work duties.

But for todays employers, who are facing increasing competition to attract and retain the most talented and experienced employees, group coverages are just the starting point in a comprehensive benefit program. For example, a typical group disability plan will only replace about 60% of an employees total covered compensation.

For many people, that amount simply is not enough to cover all of their expenses during a period of disability. Adding supplemental disability income protection can replace a higher percentage of disabled employees income, protecting more of their assets and helping them maintain the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.

Encourage employers to think of group disability as a platform on which they can build additional, complementary coverages.

Supplemental policies offer a lot of flexibility, allowing employers to create benefit packages tailored to the specific needs of their workforce–and to share some or all of the cost with employees.

Supplemental individual coverages and long term care policies are low- or no-cost benefit solutions that truly can benefit everyone involved. Employers can offer robust, competitive, yet cost-effective benefit packages that aid their recruitment and retention efforts, employees get the flexibility to choose the coverages they need most, and you have a ready-made opportunity to expand your book of business.

Sell supplemental benefits of all kinds.
In an effort to combat the rising costs of employee benefit programs, employers increasingly are seeking to transfer costs to their employees. Supplemental benefits present a logical solution. They offer employees a convenient, economical way to obtain valued additional insurance coverages best suited to their particular situation, at no cost to the employer.

Term, universal and whole life insurance are popular voluntary coverages, as are critical illness and short term disability policies. Supplemental benefit products should work together seamlessly with other group coverages to provide maximum value. Placing additional lines of coverage with a single carrier offers a variety of advantages for the employer. Simplified billing and administration are important selling points, as is increased premium stability.

Your knowledge of an employers industry and corporate culture goes a long way toward making this sale. An intimate understanding of an employers workforce will help you establish the need for additional coverages and help you obtain the employers endorsement.

Sell supplemental disability plans.
Supplemental disability income protection traditionally has been a particularly desirable addition for higher-compensated employees, or those whose income consists primarily of bonus or other performance-related compensation. Group income protection normally covers base salary only; a supplemental plan helps complement the group plan, covering other forms of variable pay and providing a higher income replacement ratio.

Supplemental individual disability coverages are not just for executives and key employees anymore. Flexible, comprehensive products that can be adapted to suit an employees changing needs over the course of their career are applicable–and attractive–to a broader range of employees.

Employer-paid options afford employers an opportunity to recognize selectively and reward the contributions of key employees. Employers may also choose to make supplemental coverages available to their employees on a voluntary basis. These coverages involve no direct cost to the employer and offer employees access to superior protection at a substantial discount they could not obtain on their own.

Sell supplemental long term care insurance.
One of the fastest growing markets in our industry is long term care insurance. LTC insurance remains the largest untapped area for financial services growth in the country. In fact, fewer than 2% of working-age people have coverage for long term care expenses, and only a small number of retired people have it.

In practical terms, LTC functions as a continuation of disability coverage. It might be easiest for you to show customers the importance of adding LTC coverage to a group policy by first illustrating the strong, sequential link between disability insurance and LTC. Whereas disability insurance protects income during the working years, LTC provides long term preservation of assets during retirement.

Kyle R. Mercer is vice president and national practice leader for supplemental benefits at UnumProvident Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, September 19, 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.