Aflac Inc. is introducing a slew of worksite benefits updates and new services to go with its recently reworked marketing campaign.

Aflac, Columbus, Ga., wants consumers to think of the products as being vital parts of their financial security, company executives say.

Aflac also is strengthening enrollment services.

Employees now can sign up for Aflac products and core, employer-paid benefits, such as group health insurance, via a call center, a Web-based self-service center, or an enroller with a laptop or desktop computer, says Aflac spokesman Mechell Clark.

The system should appeal to brokers as well as to employees, Clark says.

Product Changes

In April, Aflac lowered minimum participation requirements for short term disability insurance, making the product available to employers with as few as 3 employees, down from 5.

Recently, Aflac opened STD plans to employees who work as few as 19 hours a week, down from 30 hours.

“These changes have been taking place for some time,” says Karen Riedel, the company’s director of product marketing. “They offer a lot of elements in tune with today’s work environment. Many employers, instead of reducing the number of employees they have, are reducing work hours.”

Aflac also has broadened the reach of its disability and accident, products, eliminating some exclusions it had for players on professional sports teams, taxi drivers, and individuals in other hazardous jobs, Riedel says.

Aflac updated cancer and critical illness policies by adding an option that offers a lump-sum payment of up to $30,000 upon an initial diagnosis.

Because more people are working past the “normal retirement age,” Aflac is making accident plans available to employees up to age 70. In addition, accident and cancer policies now will allow coverage for dependent children to age 25. The previous limit was age 23.

Marketing Campaign

In April, Aflac dropped its 8-year-old “Ask about it at work” tagline.

The new slogan is, “We’ve got you under our wing.”

The “We’ve got you under our wing” campaign includes 3 new television commercials and a Facebook Web page. About 86,000 individuals have signed up through the Facebook page to be “friends” of the Aflac Duck, Clark says.

The creators of the new campaign want to assure consumers more directly that Aflac could help them if illness or injury kept them from working, company executives say.

“The new tagline speaks more to what Aflac does both for business owners and employees,” says Lance Osborne, vice president of Aflac’s Pacific territory.

Though the campaign was not designed as a response to the recession, employers’ belt-tightening did influence Aflac executives’ thinking, Osborne says.

“We have opened up sales to a number of industries where we had stricter underwriting requirements, and also to 1099 employees [independent contract workers], who don’t normally fall under that umbrella,” Osborne says.

Part of the new effort includes benefit education for employees and revised training for Aflac agents, says Eric Leger, state training coordinator for Aflac.

When Aflac conducted a survey, it found that 56% of consumers said the possibility of an illness or injury was a higher financial concern to them now than it was a year ago, Leger says. And 49% said they were more concerned than they were last year about being able to pay everyday bills if they were sick.

“So we’ve given sales reps new scripting that educates consumers of the advantages of owning voluntary benefits, using language keyed to the current economic climate,” Leger says.

The campaign focuses on differences between the voluntary benefits and major medical insurance, such as access to cash benefits.

The campaign also positions Aflac’s products as insurance for daily living or to help pay the mortgage, car loan or other bills when the policyholder can’t work.