By Patrick Leary
Corporate Vice President, Workplace Benefits Research, LIMRA
LIMRA research conducted earlier this year showed that the COVID-19 pandemic heightened consumers’ sensitively to the need for insurance and related protection products. In July, 69% of consumers said they had a greater need for adequate health insurance, while 58% said they had a heightened need for adequate life insurance. This level of concern was almost as high as the 72% of people who were concerned about having enough paper products (tissue, toilet paper and paper towels)!
The pandemic has forced many employers to establish work-at-home and other remote arrangements for their employees. With many beginning to hold their open enrollments for benefits, it presents new challenges for organizations looking to connect employees with the coverages they say they need. But what impact has the pandemic had on employees’ ability to make informed decisions about their benefits? Are employees looking at their benefits differently? LIMRA surveyed more than 1,000 full-time employees in October 2020 to find out.
Our new research reveals that many employees appreciate their benefits more now than before the pandemic, and are viewing them in a new light. Consider the following:
- Over half of employees (54%) view their insurance benefits as more valuable compared to before the pandemic. Millennials in particular (64%) now place more value on their benefits (chart).
- Approximately two-thirds of employees (66%) say they are paying more attention to the benefits their company offers and the coverages provided. Almost as many (64%) employees indicate that they are more likely to consider signing up for certain benefits.
Benefits communication and enrollment will be different this year. Digital tools will take on greater importance, with many employees learning about and enrolling remotely using these methods. How smoothly will this go? Almost 8 in 10 employees (79%) are confident they will be able to make informed decisions about their insurance benefits in the midst of the pandemic. An equally high percentage of employees indicate that they are able to make informed decisions regarding their benefits using the online tools and information currently available to them. This is generally true across all age groups, declining just slightly among older employees.
The pandemic has, however, increased sensitivity among employees regarding their financial stability, and their willingness to open their wallets to take on new financial commitments. Almost half of employees indicate that they may cut back on some benefits they have in order to save money; 62% of those with children feel this way.
There is a unique opportunity this year to demonstrate the value of the products and services our industry provides. Employees have a heightened need for insurance coverage and are paying greater attention to their benefit plans. They are looking to take advantage of those coverages that meet their needs. It is incumbent upon our industry to deliver on its mission and provide the protection that employees are looking for.
Patrick T. Leary is corporate vice president, workplace benefits research for LIMRA. This program provides research on the employee benefits marketplace, focusing on the products, markets, and distribution of a wide range of life, health, and related employee benefits. Before assuming his current position, Pat directed LIMRA’s distribution research program and, prior to that, was a member of LIMRA’s group insurance research team.
Pat joined LIMRA in 1989. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Hartwick College and his M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut. Pat also earned his LIMRA Leadership Institute Fellow (LLIF) designation in 2012.