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Combined Insurance Reports that Voluntary Programs Can Offer Employers a Cost Effective Way to Offer Benefits and Help Retain Employees
Date:10/14/2008

Leading Supplemental Insurance Company Encourages Employers to Use the Fourth Quarter to Review Employee Benefits

Chicago (PRWEB) October 14, 2008 -- Combined Insurance, a leading provider of supplemental insurance, encourages employers to use the fourth quarter as time to review employee benefits and recommends 'Voluntary Benefits' programs as an added incentive to help retain employees. These programs can be a cost-effective way for employers to lower their labor costs, yet retain employees by providing workers with access to disability, life, accident/sickness and critical care supplemental insurance policies.

Voluntary benefits allow employers to provide optional programs that employees can tailor to meet their needs with minimal costs and administrative responsibility. These policies are fully-paid by the employee, yet workers gain access to benefits via payroll deduction which saves them time. Plus, the benefits can often follow them if they change jobs, which is common in today's work environment.

Voluntary benefits can include (product availability may vary by state):

Income Protector

  • Disability Income Protection: Provides benefits in the event that an employee becomes sick or hurt and is unable to work.

Family Life Protector
  • Universal Life Insurance: Provides permanent life insurance coverage in case of death. Coverage is also available for an employee's spouse, children and grandchildren.
  • Term Life Insurance: Gives family members additional money in the event of an untimely death. Coverage is also available for immediate family members.

Accident & Sickness Protector
  • Accident & Sickness Hospitalization: Provides money directly to the employee for each day hospitalized to cover accidents and illnesses. Outpatient and Emergency Room benefits also are available.
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment Coverage: Provides additional money to the family in the event of an accidental death, permanent loss of sight or dismemberment. Coverage is also available for immediate family members.
  • Personal Accident Policy: In the event of a disabling accident, provides additional benefits for physician visits, physical therapy, hospitalization and disability.

Cancer and Critical Care Protector
  • Cancer Insurance: Provides the employee with money which can be used toward some of the expenses associated with cancer treatment that are usually not covered by an HMO or major medical insurance.
  • Critical Condition Coverage: Provides benefits if diagnosed with one of several critical illnesses or conditions, including heart attack or stroke.

Employer Attitudes Towards Benefits Are Changing

According to the Government Accountability Office in the February 2006 Employee Compensation Review given to Congressional Requesters, employer spending on benefits has grown faster than wages due largely to rising costs for health insurance and retirement benefits. The GAO reported that the increase in the cost of a total benefits package from 1991 to 2005 was largely composed of increases in health insurance and retirement income costs.

"In today's challenging economic marketplace, many companies are being forced to cut back or eliminate benefits programs, yet access to benefits can be a critical factor in retaining employees," according to Sheila Precious, vice president of Combined Insurance Worksite Solutions, a provider of voluntary benefits plans. "Our clients report that benefits programs are no longer viewed as simply a bottom line expense. Rather, they are becoming a differentiator in recruiting and retaining the best talent in an increasingly competitive labor market."

Dennis Ontaneda, director of sales and finance administration of Combined Insurance Worksite Solutions adds, "We find that more and more companies are coming to the realization that business survival often depends on the ability to recruit and retain talent, thus employers are looking to enhance benefits to boost employee satisfaction and retention. Certain industries, such as retail and consumer services, place even more importance on workplace benefits as a retention strategy. Unfortunately, with health insurance costs rising, many companies that cannot afford to offer employer-supported benefits programs are evaluating voluntary benefits programs as a way to bridge the gap and provide employees with access to benefits programs while keeping costs in line."

He adds, "A voluntary benefits solution allows employers to offer more for less. Advantages include ease of payment through payroll deduction and more flexibility, and choice. Because of these attributes voluntary benefits programs - currently a four billion dollar market - are growing in popularity, and is projected to reach 15 billion by 2020."

Employees Perception of the Advantages of Voluntary Benefits

"Current Combined Insurance research shows that 71 percent of workers surveyed admitted that workplace benefits were a factor in signing on with their current employer. Employees increasingly expect employers to be sensitive to their individual needs. Employees want personalization - 'benefits for a group of one' that meet the needs of their family and stage in life," Ontaneda says. "Employees value having a choice of benefits. 50 percent of participants said that choice is 'extremely important' and 43 percent said they were willing to pay more to have choice."

He continues, "In addition, employees are also concerned about rising benefit costs. According to the Mercer consulting firm 59 percent of companies intend to keep down rising health care costs in 2009 by raising workers' deductibles, co-pays or out-of-pocket spending limits. As a result, employees today are more interested in buying products that help with the cost of health care expenses."

According to Eastbridge Consulting Group, Inc., a marketing advisory firm serving insurance and financial services organizations, in their 2007 study, The Employee Viewpoint Revisited, about 65 percent of employees (in companies with 10+ employees) own at least one voluntary product. The most commonly owned voluntary products were life, disability and dental insurance.

Precious summarizes, "Voluntary insurance programs are gaining popularity by allowing employers to offer their employees benefits without impacting the company's bottom-line. Employee satisfaction and retention are generally impacted in a positive manner."

Many employers are preparing to review their current benefit offerings as we enter the months when switch enrollments customarily occur. What better time than now to investigate the various supplemental insurance products that can help fill the possible gaps in your employees' coverage, without adding to your benefits budget. To learn more about Combined Insurance's voluntary insurance programs for businesses, please visit www.combinedworksite.com.

About Combined Insurance Company Combined Insurance (www.combinedinsurance.com) is a leading provider of supplemental accident, health and life insurance products and is a member of the ACE Group of Companies. With a field sales force and corporate staff in excess of 10,000 people worldwide, Combined Insurance meets the growing coverage needs of policyholders around the globe. For more information, call 1-800-490-1322 or visit www.combinedinsurance.com.

About ACE The ACE Group of Companies is a global leader in insurance and reinsurance serving a diverse group of clients. Headed by ACE Limited (NYSE: ACE), the ACE Group of Companies conducts its business on a worldwide basis with operating subsidiaries in more than 50 countries. Additional information can be found at www.acelimited.com.

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Combined Insurance Reports that Voluntary Programs Can Offer Employers a Cost Effective Way to Offer Benefits and Help Retain Employees
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