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Unum: Fewer employees give top scores on benefits education

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The percentage of U.S. employees who think highly of their companies’ benefits educational initiatives edged down during the past, according to new research.

Unum unveils this finding in a summary of results from an online survey of 3,031 adults ages 18 and older, 1,521 of whom are identified as working adults that are full-time, part-time, or self-employed. Harris Poll conducted the survey on Unum’s behalf last December.

The research shows that only 33 percent of employees who were asked to review benefits in the prior year rated the benefits education they received as “excellent” or “very good.” The result is down from the 37 percent recorded in 2012 and a reversal from the upward trend in ratings observed since 2009. In addition, in 2013, nearly three in 10 (27 percent) rated their benefits education as “fair” or “poor.”

The poll also finds that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of employees report understanding life insurance “somewhat” or “very well.” And 7 in 10 (71 percent) report the same level of understanding of vision insurance.

Employees’ understanding of other benefits also lags:

  • Fewer than half of employees report understanding supplemental medical coverage somewhat or very well (40 percent).
  • Only 47 percent say they understand critical illness insurance somewhat or very well.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of employees whose employers offered long or short term disability insurance said no one explained disability insurance to them.
  • Two-thirds of employees (66 percent) agree employers can better educate employees about DI insurance benefits.

“The (Patient Protection and) Affordable Care Act is raising lots of questions and leading to changes that extend beyond health coverage,” says Bill Dalicandro, vice president of Unum’s Consumer Solutions Group. “Employees are making decisions about their benefits that they have never had to make before.

“It’s vital for employers to provide the right tools and information for employees so they can understand their benefits options and choose the coverage that is right for them.”

Given the information they need to make informed decisions about their benefits, the survey adds, employees tend to rate their benefits education higher. Among the 70 percent of employees whose company offered long or short term disability insurance and who received education on disability insurance, 83 percent rated their benefits education positively.

Unum’s research also shows how big an impact a good benefits education program has on workplace satisfaction.

Nearly 8 in 10 (79 percent) of workers who reviewed benefits in the past year and rated their education as excellent or very good also rate their employer as excellent or very good. This compares to only 30 percent of those who said the education they received was fair or poor.


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