The Ease 2021 Digital Broker's Open Enrollment Readiness Report finds that that 90% of agencies anticipate their groups wanting more insurance options this upcoming open enrollment season.
The report's findings explore how insurance agencies are preparing for open enrollment season and the pandemic's impact on the future of employee insurance benefits and priorities. Ease surveyed 568 insurance brokers at agencies ranging from one to 100+ employees, with the majority saying their groups will want worksite benefits options, such as accident, life, or critical illness.
"Novel challenges brought on by the pandemic will continue to be a hurdle for insurance agencies," said David Reid, CEO, and co-founder of Ease. "Where agencies may have been accustomed to offering traditional employee benefits and hesitant to embrace new technology, evolving to meet the employment needs of today will be a key factor in remaining competitive this year. Our survey findings provide greater insight into how insurance agencies are preparing to meet the needs of their clients during this year's open enrollment season."
Expanding Benefit Offerings
The COVID-19 pandemic forced agencies and companies alike to reassess employee benefits. As employers continue to face a hiring shortage, attracting talent will almost certainly be contingent upon being able to offer employee benefits that cover a full spectrum of needs.
Of the agencies surveyed, 90% anticipate their groups will want more insurance options this upcoming open enrollment season, with the majority anticipating the need for worksite benefits options, followed by 40% anticipating their groups will want more overall health insurance plan options. Mental health benefits are also likely to be of greater importance with 35% of respondents saying groups will likely want this type of benefit to aid in the stress brought on by the pandemic.
Restructuring for Remote Work
Seventy-six percent of agencies reported they've changed the way they do business since last year as a result of the pandemic. Further, agencies with 100+ brokers saw the most change following the pandemic, with the largest number of brokers (60%) stating most of their business is now conducted remotely as their clients have evolved to a flexible or permanent work-from-home structure.
The ability to conduct business digitally and have enrollment meetings online was a driving factor for 43% of agencies that acquired new clients. Further, almost half (48%) of the agencies surveyed cited offering more support to clients by helping them onboard new hires online, conduct benefits elections remotely and provide compliance support. Overall, the majority of agencies, 58%, cited the ability to offer innovative ways to help clients contain costs is key for preparing to acquire new BORs during open enrollment.
Embracing Digital Solutions
The report also found insurance agencies are embracing digital solutions for benefits administration. Of the agencies surveyed, 80% have used benefits administration technology to manage changes over the past year and 85% reported touting benefits administration technology as a competitive advantage when pursuing new clients.
In anticipation of open enrollment, 57% noted technology will play a very important role for their groups this year, and 91% are likely to put or keep groups on a benefits administration solution this season. Moreover, 88% of agencies plan to conduct at least 25% of open enrollment activities online rather than in person, and 64% of agencies plan to conduct at least 50% of open enrollment activities online, rather than in person.
The full report which looks deeper at the latest benefits trends and opportunities shaping open enrollment for insurance brokers and agencies can be found here.
Ease is an online benefits enrollment system built for insurance brokers and employers. Ease makes it simple to set up and manage benefits, onboard new hires, stay compliant, and offer employees one destination for all their human resources information. Started in 2012 in San Francisco by employee benefits veteran David Reid and web and engineering architect Courtney Guertin, Ease works with insurance brokers and small businesses to create seamless HR and benefits processes on an easy-to-use system. Ease has offices in Las Vegas, New York, Omaha and San Diego. In 2015, Ease was launched on the West Coast and is among the most widely adopted, fastest growing solutions for brokers and employers in the area, with more than 75,000 employers and over 2.5 million employees. For more information, head to www.ease.com.
The data in this report reflects survey results from 568 brokers, agency account managers, agency owners, and their agency staff selling group health insurance throughout the United States, regardless of their adoption of Ease. The analysis in this report uses this anonymized data collected throughout July 2021.