New Benefits and Insurance Options You Can Expect in 2018

(StatePoint) Ever wondered whether your insurance policy was actually working for you? You may be in luck, as your insurance plan may start to follow the same trends being adopted in other industries: simpler, more convenient and personalized products – all supported by the latest mobile technology.

This year, Stephanie Shields, a product marketing and development expert from Aflac, (Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York) says that policyholders can expect these “value-added services” to become less of a nice-to-have and more of a given:

• Telemedicine: Consulting with a physician and getting treatment online offers greater flexibility and may become essential to busy people.

• Fraud protection: Identity theft is likely top of mind for policyholders and businesses. Expect to see better fraud protection, including ongoing internet monitoring and full identity restoration after a data breach.

• Bill negotiation: The ever-changing health care system is often confusing to navigate. Ongoing education, as well as help understanding medical bills, can ultimately mean greater access to efficient, affordable care.

Transformed Benefits

Insurance providers will likely shift the customer experience to follow that of retailers and other industries. In 2018, expect to see insurers such as Aflac offer more cohesive insurance policies that combine multiple benefit types into one plan.

Beyond the Basics

You may find things that were once luxuries, such as 401K matching, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and even annual bonuses, are not as successful in meeting the expectations of today’s employees. As those expectations grow, successful businesses can continue to close the gap with such services as:

• Health advocacy: Access to round-the-clock personal health advocates who can answer health care and insurance-related questions.

• Financial and legal fitness: Access to financial and legal advisors who can educate consumers on the preparation of wills and other legal documents.

• College-advisory services: These might include resources to help lower college costs and navigate the admissions process.

• No more “one-size-fits-all”: Communications from benefits providers may be more tailored to individual needs.

• Bite-sized communications: Concise information about workplace benefits, tips for using benefits to help protect financial security and better explanations of coverage combinations that are appropriate at various life stages.

• New format: While some benefits information will still be delivered in the typical booklet format, more businesses may consider using online articles, digital signs, brown-bag luncheons and town halls.

• Frequent communications: Employers may communicate about benefits throughout the year, or time communications to coincide with life events, such as employee anniversaries.

Time Spent Smarter

In 2018, employers who have not yet adopted online platforms to manage benefits may do so. Advantages include year-round, convenient access to pertinent information and one-page views of all benefits options and selections, enabling you to identify any holes you may have in coverage.

Penny-Pinching

More voluntary benefits, such as accident, critical illness/cancer, hospital indemnity, life and disability insurance, are on the horizon. According to the 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report, 81 percent of employees see a growing need for voluntary insurance benefits, and 90 percent consider voluntary insurance at least somewhat part of a comprehensive benefits program.

Thanks to a tech-driven world and the growing demands of consumers, 2018 may see insurers expand their services to offer even more convenience and personalization.

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