Poll Reveals Brokers’ Thoughts On the Importance of Policyholder Service

We are living in unprecedented times, so it shouldn’t be surprising that we’re seeing so many polls and studies trying to gain an understanding of how certain people and certain market segments are feeling about their business.

In a brand new poll, employee benefits brokers told OneAmerica® that they view “administrative and operational” assistance provided to policyholders as the key way for insurance carriers to be most supportive during this global pandemic. The results of this survey were discussed in a recent press release, which states that the poll was designed to help provide a view of the current state of the employee benefit business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost one half (46%) of the brokers who responded to this poll say that this kind of support — support provided by answering policyholder questions and addressing billing inquiries and other concerns, such as evidence of insurability for formerly furloughed workers — is most useful to them. The brokers also valued general “check-ins” with them by a sales representative ─ to talk about their health and well-being. That kind of support finished in second, with 30% saying that it’s of most use.

Jim McGovern, senior vice president for employee benefits at OneAmerica, talked about how his company is “broker-centric” and what that means in this case. “At OneAmerica, being broker-centric means we are always looking for ways to positively enhance the experiences brokers and their clients have with us. Broker-centric also means doing all the things that bring the highest value, and in this period of uncertainty, simply asking them what’s on their minds and what’s happening to their book of business is our way of upholding our commitment to them.”

This poll was conducted in early May and addressed a range of COVID-19 topics. The pollsters got feedback from 50 brokers nationally who do business with OneAmerica. The brokers identified several ways to help accelerate business, including employee assistance programs.

Here are other key points from the survey:

  • Increased Demand: More than 70% of brokers perceive employee assistance programs as having the most demand, three times more than the next highest choice, which is short-term disability.
  • Timing: Seventy percent of the brokers cited expecting their clients to wait to purchase new products or renew, while almost 30% expect employers to either provide more employee-paid options or look for plan design changes to minimize costs.
  • Enrollment Solutions: The best enrollment solution chosen by brokers is having a benefits administration system, at 60%, and virtual enrollment meetings follow with 24%. Brokers indicated the most preferred way to position auto-enrollment is through success stories and testimonials, followed by economic data and statistics.

The release reinforces OneAmerica’s corporate belief in life insurance as one of the most important kinds of insurance coverages available to support long-term financial security. Unlike medical or dental, voluntary benefits may be perceived in the marketplace as “nice to have” but not a “must have” for those employees who believe they have a limited budget to spend on insurance.

“We see it differently – we see it as paycheck protection that support the hopes and dreams of individuals and families,” Mr. McGovern said. “So do our brokers. And brokers want to always know who to call when they or their clients need help navigating any challenges or answering any questions.”

Many of the surveys we’ve been seeing are zeroing in on trusting relationships. Clearly, in these uncertain times, strong relationships − between broker and client, broker and general agency, broker and carrier, and agency and carrier – are highlighted as the keys to getting through this pandemic, from a business standpoint. I hope we are all learning from that.

Charles K. Hirsch, CLU, is the former editor and publisher of Life Insurance Selling magazine. He continues to contribute to insurance industry publications, in addition to providing consulting and marketing services through his firm, Hirsch Communications Consulting, LLC. He can be reached at [email protected].