Jan 14 2015 | Patti Pina

Voluntary benefits continue to play an increasingly important role in an employee’s overall benefits package. This is because employers are becoming more aware of how voluntary benefits can improve their ability to attract and retain employees, while also finding it beneficial to shift benefit choices to their employees. Adding more options and shifting the decision-making to the employee makes the benefits that the employees choose more meaningful and attractive. From an employer’s standpoint, voluntary benefits are an effective way to add value to the benefit options without increasing overall benefit costs, while employees are able to address various financial concerns.

According to Eastbridge Consulting Group, the top voluntary products that employees want are life, disability, dental, accident and critical illness insurance.

Life and disability are two products that have always been associated with protecting an employee’s income; therefore, they remain the two most popular voluntary products.

Dental is the third most purchased voluntary product. Employees view dental insurance in the same way they view medical insurance, and many employers have shifted dental insurance to the voluntary category.

Accident and critical illness are two additional voluntary products quickly gaining popularity as major medical insurance with higher deductibles become more commonplace. For most employees with a high-deductible plan, much of the potential medical costs resulting from an accident would be the employee’s responsibility. In addition, common critical illnesses would most likely trigger the full deductible for a medical plan, allowing critical illness insurance to help mitigate those costs. Much like the two most popular voluntary products – life and disability – accident and critical illness protect an employee’s income.

As employers optimize their strategic benefits objectives – while meeting diverse employee needs – the interest in voluntary products is steadily increasing.