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Press release from PR Newswire

Many U.S. Insurance Brokers Not Confident in Future of Their Industry, Yet Aflac Study Points to Increasing Opportunities Due to Health Care Reform

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Many U.S. Insurance Brokers Not Confident in Future of Their Industry, Yet Aflac Study Points to Increasing Opportunities Due to Health Care Reform

08:00 EDT Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Study reveals employers and employees in need of broker guidance amid complex benefits landscape

COLUMBUS, Ga., July 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- America's insurance brokers have been shaken by wide-ranging changes to the nation's health care system and economic unrest, with 45 percent considering exiting the health insurance business altogether and 51 percent are only somewhat or not at all confident about the future of their firm and industry, according to the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers. Conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the study analyzed the trends, attitudes and use of employee benefits, with results derived from online surveys of nearly 1,884 benefits decision-makers, 5,299 workers and more than 300 brokers.

The Aflac study also found that:

  • Almost one-third (29 percent) of brokers are concerned about remaining relevant to their clients.
  • More than 6-in-10 brokers (62 percent) named "rising health care costs impacting client decisions on benefits" as the most important issue for their firm right now.
  • Just 15 percent of brokers say they are completely confident in the future of their firms and the industry.

This seeming self-doubt points to a disconnect with employers and employees, who say they want more help from brokers and benefits experts as they unravel the often-confusing web of changes resulting from health care reform.

Ironically, employers and workers who participated in the Aflac study say they are dependent on the expertise of brokers and benefits consultants. For example, 78 percent of employees at least somewhat agree they would be more informed about their health insurance choices if they worked with an insurance consultant during benefits enrollment and more than one-third (35 percent) of those strongly or completely agree. Furthermore, the Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers revealed employee education and communication about benefits are two key areas of opportunity for brokers.

"Although it's clear that the role of the insurance broker and agent is changing alongside the evolving health insurance landscape, our research shows that their expertise is increasing in demand among companies and employees," said Michael Zuna, Aflac's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "What's more, the smartest agents and brokers will seize upon health care reform as an opportunity to even further demonstrate their value and encourage employers to satisfy workers' expectations and needs when it comes to benefits education. Our research shows that education and engagement will be crucial to helping employers attract and retain employees and keep them productive and satisfied on the job."

The assistance of brokers and benefits advisors is particularly crucial given that while 55 percent of employers told Aflac they've done nothing to prepare for upcoming changes to the health care system, 75 percent of employees believe their employers will educate them about changes to their coverage as a result of reform. Furthermore, 56 percent of employers told Aflac they're extremely or very knowledgeable about their benefits programs, but just 27 percent of brokers agree.

Other areas of opportunity for brokers were found in the need for tailored benefits and employee wellness programs. The 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers revealed that:

  • 82 percent of brokers recommend tailored benefits ? and 92 percent of employees agree they'd take advantage of tailored options ? but just 38 percent of employers provide such plans.
  • 56 percent of brokers recommend that their clients sponsor employee wellness programs, but 60 percent of the companies taking part in the Aflac study did not have such programs in place.

To learn more about the broker mindset as revealed in the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers and to access fact sheets based on brokerage size, visit AflacWorkForcesReportforBrokers.com.

About the StudyThe 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers is based on the third annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefits trends and attitudes. The study captured responses from 1,884 benefits decision-makers, 5,299 employees and more than 300 brokers from throughout the United States. To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers, visit AflacWorkForcesReportforBrokers.com.

Conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the research contained three components ? employer research, employee research and broker research. The employer survey was conducted online within the United States between Jan. 4, 2013, and Jan. 15, 2013, among 1,884 benefits decision-makers. Results were representative of U.S. companies with at least three employees based on company size (number of employees) and industry. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

The employee survey was conducted online within the United States between Jan. 7, 2013, and Jan. 24, 2013, among 5,229 employed adults ages 18 and older who are employed full or part time at a company with three or more employees and not retired. The first 3,038 interviews were nationally representative while the remaining 3,602 interviews were conducted among the Top 20 designated market areas (DMAs) ?100+ interviews per DMA. Results were weighted as needed for household income. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

The broker survey was conducted online within the United States between Jan. 4, 2013, and Jan. 9, 2013, among 316 employed benefit insurance broker/producer or financial advisors. Results were representative of U.S. broker firms of all sizes and serving companies of all size of employees.

About Research NowResearch Now is the leading global online sampling and online data collection company. With over six million panelists in 38 countries worldwide, Research Now enables companies to listen to and interact with real consumers and business decision-makers to help them make key business decisions. Research Now offers a full suite of data collection services, including social media sampling, and operates the Valued Opinions? Panel and e-Rewards® Opinion Panels. The company has a multilingual staff located in 24 offices around the globe and has been recognized for four consecutive years as the industry leader in client satisfaction. For more information, please visit researchnow.com.

About AflacWhen a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For nearly six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance. In Japan, Aflac is the number one life insurance company in terms of individual policies in force. Aflac individual and group insurance products provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For seven consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2013, FORTUNE magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the 15th consecutive year. Also, in 2013, FORTUNE magazine included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 12th time, ranking the company number one in the life and health insurance category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com or espanol.aflac.com.

Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus.

FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For and World's Most Admired Companies are registered trademarks of Time Inc. and are used under License. FORTUNE and Time Inc. are not affiliated with, and do not endorse products or services of, Aflac.

(Logo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100423/CL92305LOGO )

Media Contacts:

Kip Havel

Cathleen Bleers

Aflac

Hill + Knowlton Strategies

706.243.5543

312.255.3123

khavel@aflac.com 

cathleen.bleers@hkstrategies.com

 

SOURCE Aflac

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