Employers prefer to buy voluntary employee benefits from known carriers, but they also give great weight to the advice of financial advisors when choosing such benefits.

Researchers at LIMRA International, Windsor, Conn., come to that conclusion in a study of the 2006 worksite market at U.S. businesses with 10 or more employees.

When choosing voluntary benefits, 65% of participating businesses prefer to deal with the same carriers that provide at least some of their employer-paid benefits, up from 55% expressing such a preference in 2002.

Only 15% chose voluntary benefit carriers that they were not already dealing with for employer-paid benefits, down from 24% in 2002.

The remaining 20% said it did not matter whether or not they had dealt with the worksite carrier previously when choosing a carrier, about the same that said so in 2002.

When choosing voluntary carriers, 61% cited brand name recognition as an important consideration, up from 55% in 2002, while 60% said producer recommendations are important, just above the 59% that cited producer advice 4 years earlier.

Having a prior relationship with the insurance provider was cited as important by 41%, compared with 38% in 2002.