By David Polen
If you’re like many benefits brokers, you might consider dental insurance a distant second to major medical coverage in terms of employee demand. After all, a dental claim may be only in the hundreds of dollars, while major medical claims can be many multiples of that. And although major medical is almost always a group benefit, dental insurance is usually offered to employees at the workplace as a voluntary benefit — they decide if they want the coverage and pay for it themselves.
However, employees overwhelmingly do want and choose dental insurance when they are given the option. In fact, it’s employees’ most-requested health benefit after major medical coverage, according to a 2018 LIMRA Employee Data report. And it’s the second-most popular voluntary coverage, accounting for more than 13 percent of worksite sales (according to the NADP 2015 State of the Dental Benefits Market).
Many employers are getting the message: about 58 percent of them now offer dental coverage, LIMRA reports. But that means more than 40 percent don’t yet offer this high-demand benefit — likely including some of your current and prospective clients. You can tap into that significant open market by positioning dental insurance as a core employee benefit. Here are three big reasons why dental insurance is important to your clients — and you.
#1. Employee retention and recruitment
A competitive benefits package is critically important for your clients to keep and compete for top talent. Without dental insurance, their benefits package likely isn’t competitive, and they may struggle not only to attract new employees, but to keep the ones they have.
Recent research continues to show dental insurance is a key benefit employees are looking for. The 2018 LIMRA Employee Data report showed 61 percent of employees view dental benefits as important. And employees may be willing to go elsewhere to get it: A 2018 poll by Research Now conducted for Colonial Life showed 75 percent of employees who aren’t offered dental insurance at work say it’s important when considering another job.
Employees want and need flexible, competitive dental insurance that provides protection for their specific needs. Not offering this benefit can be a deal breaker for those considering a future with your clients’ organizations. Individual voluntary dental insurance is particularly attractive to employees because everyone is eligible with no participation requirements. It’s also guaranteed renewable and portable, eliminating the burden to manage COBRA administration.
Without the financial safety net dental insurance provides, many employees fail to get the care they need. According to a recent American Dental Association study, 59 percent of adults said they forgo dental care due to cost. A University of Michigan study revealed one in four adults ages 50-64 wait until they have a problem to see the dentist, chiefly due to cost and a lack of dental insurance.
Concern for their employees’ well-being aside, this dynamic can also have a serious impact on your clients’ business operations. That’s because — just as with other health care — employees who don’t get regular preventive checkups often miss more time for emergencies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 320 million work or school hours are lost annually for dental care in the United States — 92 million of them for emergency or unplanned care.
#3. Cost control
Dental insurance may also help your clients control their health benefit costs. Dental checkups are an important way to discover more serious health problems. Because oral health is linked to potentially serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, early detection can help prevent a large medical claim later on.
Equally important, your clients can offer this important protection without taking a hit on the bottom line. Dental insurance is available as an individual voluntary benefit, meaning the employees who want the coverage select and pay for it themselves. Because your clients make the coverage available in a group setting at work, their employees can take advantage of better pricing than they’d likely be able to get on their own.
And here are two bonus reasons for you to include dental insurance in your portfolio: client turnover and door opening.
With more businesses placing high value on dental coverage, your own business could be at risk if you don’t offer your clients strong dental coverage employees can count on. Offering it can help keep your current clients satisfied and deter them from shopping elsewhere. For prospective clients, dental insurance could be the product you need to get in the door. And once in place, it tends to drive additional business. For example, at Colonial Life we find for every $50 in dental insurance we enroll, we’re enrolling an additional $75 in other types of coverage.
Be sure you’re making dental insurance available to all your clients — and positioning it as a core benefit alongside major medical. You’ll soon find you’re opening up to even bigger business success.
David Polen is assistant vice president of product development at Colonial Life & Accident Insurance. David may be contacted at [email protected].
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