Thursday, May 9, 2013

Worksite Benefits from a Core Guy’s Perspective

By Dominic Siciliano

I grew up a Core guy.  I cut my teeth at Priority Health learning Medicare Advantage, then moved over to Agent Alliance to work with agents' Blue Cross in small groups.  Just as recently as a year ago, I had one thing in mind—how do we quote to get new medical groups or keep the ones we had. 

Sure we sold Companion Life and we talked Voluntary Dental—a sale that seemed natural and easy enough.  Medical benefits are expensive enough, it made sense to me groups would offer the opportunity to purchase dental as a voluntary add on.  And voluntary life—that made sense.  Even STD and LTD seemed like a nice, easy way to offer employees financial protection on a voluntary basis.  

But what about that other stuff—critical illness or accident?  I have to admit, I was skeptical.  I saw how expensive the medical benefits were—I see how agents continued to move and change benefits just to keep plans in place.  How could we ethically recommend even more spend of the employee’s dollar? 

So I started asking agents about it.  Do you sell voluntary, more specifically worksite?  If so, how do you do it?  What carriers do you sell?  The answers were varied from agents who told me they despise the very idea of it to those who told me they are experiencing great success and their groups are really enjoying the benefits.  But the process still seemed odd to me.  How does it work?  How do they sell it?

I began talking to the carriers.  The answers were hard to come by.  Some told me they had to accompany the agent on every sale because they are the experts.  No, that doesn’t feel right.  Others told me the products ‘sell themselves’ and they just need the opportunity to quote.  That’s not right either.  Then finally I found one who told me their style is to find areas they can enhance the benefits experience, lower core costs or even solve employer issues through their varied resources with several enrollment platforms.  This started to fit.  I finally began to see how it could work—if through the enrollment process (which is necessary for voluntary benefits) the agent can solve essential employee or employer pains, then the sale becomes a solution.

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