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1 in 3 Workers Plan to Boost Benefits During Open Enrollment

Pandemic changes employees’ attitudes and behaviors toward insurance

This open enrollment season is unlike others, according to new research from employee benefits provider Unum. Workers plan to spend more time reviewing their options, choose new insurance benefits, and increase their coverage due to COVID-19.

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“Choosing your benefits is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make this year,” said Rob Hecker, vice president of Global Total Rewards at Unum. “Today’s pandemic reminds us we need to be prepared for life’s unexpected health events.”

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Unum’s research among 1,500 full-time U.S. workers in October 2020 found new trends due to this year’s pandemic.

  • More than 1 in 3 workers (36%) plan to enroll in different benefits this year.
  • 2 in 3 workers (64%) plan to pay more attention to their employee benefits and spend more time reviewing and understanding them.
  • Workers plan to enroll for the first time or increase their coverage in life insurance (27%), hospital insurance (14%), short- and long-term disability insurance (12%), and critical illness coverage (12%).
  • Nearly 3 out of 5 workers (57%) report financial stress or hardship.
  • 57% of U.S. workers worry about their mental health.

Enrollment goes virtual
More employers are offering virtual benefits education this year. According to 400 companies surveyed in June, 42% will offer virtual video conferencing or co-browsing with a benefits counselor, up from 23% last year. In-person meetings with benefits counselors will drop from 49% in 2019 to 33% in 2020.

“Virtual live video counseling can be highly effective and engaging just like in-person benefits counseling, while also keeping everyone safe and overcoming barriers of distance,” said Richard Shaffer, vice president of Field and Market Development at Colonial Life—a provider with more than 10 years’ experience managing virtual enrollments. “You can freely discuss your finances or health from your home and include your partner or spouse in the conversation.”

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