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Open Enrollment in a World Turned Upside Down

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Few stranger things have happened in recent history than in 2020, a time when everything seems to have turned upside down. As we approach the annual benefits open enrollment period, brokers have stepped into a new dimension where everything virtual reigns supreme over practically anything face to face.

(Related: Social Security in Crisis: Preparing Clients for Change)

Businesses also face a challenging situation: how to engage with employees through creative, digital communications with which they may lack expertise. Yet, the landscape affords brokers a prime — albeit certainly unique — opportunity to guide clients through a new enrollment process and perhaps rethink their benefits offerings in light of today’s realities.

Looking before leaping

In the past, employees have devoted little time to electing benefits, with over half spending fewer than 30 minutes researching benefits options and 93% simply selecting the same benefits each year, according to the 2019-2020 Aflac WorkForces Report. As much of the U.S. workforce continues operating remotely, how can benefits managers recalibrate marketing and education campaigns to reach workers?

Brokers are in a perfect position to leverage digital solutions such as flyers, e-books, video training and email templates to clients. They can also help answer questions and assist employees with enrollment via video or phone consultations. Look for an insurer like Aflac that can help provide these tools and also assist with navigating the nebulous number of platforms out there so brokers can tinker less with technology and spend more time serving clients.

Open the door to new offerings

Current events are causing employers to take a second look at their benefits offerings and consider fresh ways they can support their workforces. Here’s a timely example: More than 50% of employers are extremely or very interested in offering insurance to cover costs associated with the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 or future pandemics, according to the Aflac 2020-2021 WorkForces Report.

One solution? Supplemental insurance like hospital indemnity and critical illness insurance can help with costs related to possible long-term effects or critical symptoms stemming from a serious sickness like COVID-19. By getting help with expenses health insurance doesn’t cover, insureds can receive cash benefits directly (unless otherwise assigned) to use however they choose, including toward medical bills or everyday living expenses like utility payments, rent or mortgage, or groceries.

Redefining success for today

By helping clients successfully navigate benefits enrollment in this new, upside-down world, brokers can help improve client trust and happiness as well as redefine what a successful open enrollment season can look like.

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Stephanie Shields (Photo: Aflac)Stephanie Shields is senior vice president of broker sales at Aflac