New York, N.Y., November 18, 2020 – Open enrollment is well underway and Americans are approaching it very differently than in years past. For instance, more than half of working Americans said they are likely to make benefits changes as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and nearly half (44 percent) are likely to make changes as a result of the presidential election. With this year’s pandemic prompting working Americans to re-evaluate their financial security amidst the biggest health crisis in a lifetime, selecting the right benefits can be a challenge.
Even though many working Americans will be making changes to their benefits as a result of the pandemic and the election, more than 65 percent will actually dedicate more time to researching Black Friday deals, such as what smartphone to buy or new TV shows to watch compared to researching their benefit options. The latest set of findings from Guardian’s 9th Annual Workplace Benefits Study also aimed to understand where gaps were with overall benefits knowledge. Working Americans were given a true and false quiz to test their knowledge around insurance benefits. Results showed that the average score in 2020 was a grade of C-minus and of those respondents who scored a grade D or lower, 60 percent had given themselves a high rating on their benefits knowledge.
“This year’s pandemic has underscored how important it is for employees to understand their benefits, especially non-medical benefits that can help cover for unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses,” said Michael Estep, Vice President Group Products, Guardian Life. “Whether it’s life insurance or hospital indemnity insurance, employees are looking for simple communications that explain what they are, why they matter, and how they can help meet their financial need.”
Workplace benefits continue to be a safety net for many working Americans, according to Guardian Life’s research. For example, 52 percent of workers say they would face financial hardship without their workplace benefits. If faced with an emergency medical bill, one-third say they would pay with a credit card, and about one in five would take out a bank loan, home equity loan, or borrow from their retirement plan or children’s college savings.
To help navigate the benefits enrollment process and demonstrate how voluntary benefits can help increase financial security, Guardian Life recently launched Simply Put, a campaign designed to educate employers, employees, and brokers about the value of voluntary benefits through one-on-one Q&A conversational style videos. The Simply Put series covers everything from defining what a voluntary benefit is to highlighting critical illness, dental, and hospital indemnity insurance, among other benefits.
Additional highlights from the report, titled “Benefits Optimization: Upgrading the Enrollment Experience to Help Employers and their Workers get the Most Value,” included:
- 67 percent said they would not be able to afford benefits if they did not get them through their employer
- Four in 10 workers say their medical plan is not enough to cover the cost of a major medical event
- Two in five workers report that their annual deductible is $2,500 or more, with roughly half saying they would need to borrow money to pay for an unexpected medical expense
- Two in three workers want more personalized, targeted benefits communications
Guardian’s Workplace Benefits Study is based on three surveys: One conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 Nationally Representative U.S. Adults with Employer-Provided Benefits, between November 6th and November 9th, 2020. Second, the 9th Annual Workplace Benefits Study was fielded in the spring of 2020 (prior to the US coronavirus pandemic) and consisted of two online surveys: one among benefits decision-makers (employers) and another among working Americans (employees), allowing us to explore benefits issues from both perspectives.
Every day, Guardian provides Americans the security they deserve through our insurance and wealth management products and services. Since our founding in 1860, our long-term view has helped our customers prepare for whatever life brings whether starting a family, planning or taking care of employees. Today, we're a Fortune 250 mutual company and a leading provider of life, disability, dental, and other benefits for individuals, at the workplace and through government sponsored programs. The Guardian community of over 9,000 employees and our network of over 2,500 financial representatives is committed to serving with expertise when, where and how our clients need us. Our commitments rest on a strong financial foundation, which at year-end 2019 included $9.3 billion in capital and $1.7 billion in operating income. For more information, please visit guardianlife.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.