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Boomers, Gen-Xers Agree On DI, Life As Voluntary Benefits

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Despite their noted differences, baby boomers and Generation X employees show strong similarities in their choice of some workplace benefits, according to a study of employers by Aon Consulting, a human resources firm that is a division of Aon Corp., Chicago.

Both boomers (ages 45 to 60) and Generation Xers (ages 25 to 40) rank disability insurance as the top worksite benefit, Aon Consulting found.

Both age groups purchase DI more than any other employer-offered voluntary benefit, although the study did find the older generation showed a stronger preference for the coverage. Aon found 45% of employers say boomers buy DI at work, compared to 37% who say Gen-X workers do the same.

In second place for both groups: life insurance (individual whole life, universal life and variable life)–with 23% identifying it as most popular among boomers and 24% for Gen-Xers.

However, Aon also found sharp differences between the two groups on other voluntary benefits, notably in their purchase of long term care insurance.

For 11% of employers, boomer workers see LTC insurance as the most popular voluntary benefit, while about 5% of employers say it was Gen-Xers’ favorite.

For 14% of employers, the third-ranked voluntary benefit was individual home, auto or liability insurance.

A big reason for the difference: More boomers have begun caring for their parents, which has prompted many to see the benefits of having LTC insurance for themselves, according to Garry Sullivan, senior vice president with Aon Consulting.

Many Gen-Xers, on the other hand, recently bought their first homes and are looking to protect their new investment, he notes.

Other significant boomer preferences for voluntary coverage:

–Critical illness/cancer insurance, 7.8%;

–Legal services, 1.6%;

–Limited-benefit health care insurance (for part timers), 3.1%.

The study also found 1.6% of boomers want retiree medical-Medicare supplemental insurance. The low demand may have stemmed from a lack of availability of the insurance at their place of work: Only about 7% of employers offered it, the study revealed.

When Aon looked at which benefits were most asked for by all employees, LTC insurance and retiree medical-Medicare supplemental insurance were the top two. More than 26% of employers cite LTC insurance as the most in-demand benefit not currently available, while more than 19% cite retiree medical-Medicare supplemental.

The study did not examine from which demographic group these demands were coming, but Sullivan thinks the source is obvious.

“The fact that long term care insurance and retiree medical-Medicare supplemental insurance are the top benefits employees are asking for suggests that baby boomers are providing the greatest input on the topic,” comments Sullivan.

Aon found 77% of surveyed employers offer voluntary benefits.