30 Alaska Business | December 2017 www.akbizmag.com
NCE they were to purchase insurance outside of the workplace. There’s also minimal underwriting involved—which means fewer health-related questions are required for workers to qualify.
And depending on the size of the organization,
coverage may be available on a “guaranteed is-
sue” basis during enrollment.
“Even with an account with as few as ten
employees, we can often provide guaranteed
issue for disability, critical illness, and life
insurance policies,” Whitfield says. “It means
every employee can qualify for coverage…
regardless of their age or health situation.”
In addition, some types of voluntary in-
surance are “guaranteed renewable.” This
allows employees to purchase a plan and con-
tinue to receive coverage as long as the pre-
mium is paid on time. Individual voluntary
coverage is also portable, meaning employees
can keep their coverage even if they change
jobs or retire.
Many employees choose supplemental insurance, in part, because the benefits from
covered claims are paid directly to them.
“Employees want and buy these plans because the cash comes directly to them to use
however they need,” Whitfield says.
Employers generally choose to offer vol-
untary insurance to give all their employ-
ees the opportunity to purchase different
types and amounts of insurance at afford-
able rates. Offering voluntary insurance also
helps companies attract and retain high-
quality employees, Whitfield says. The kind
of Alaska businesses that offer voluntary in-
surance vary, ranging from companies with
five employees to those with hundreds and
thousands of workers. “We all need quality
employees to grow our business and remain
profitable. Besides, if you are a caring em-
ployer, offering insurance is a way to make a
major impact on employees’ lives.”
In terms of how much coverage employees
are choosing with Colonial Life’s plans, cover-
age for voluntary life insurance tends to be in
the $100,000-to-$200,000 range. This is sig-
nificantly more than the group coverage many
employers provide and adds much-needed
protection for families that are often under-
insured, according to Whitfield. The most
common disability coverage amount employ-
ees opt for is $3,000 a month, with the maxi-
mum coverage amount being $6,500 a month.
Critical illness insurance plans are available in
many levels, with $20,000 worth of coverage
being a popular amount.
Whitfield is passionate about promoting
the benefits of Colonial Life’s critical illness
insurance. Alaska has the highest healthcare
costs in the country, and a cancer diagnosis,
heart attack, or stroke can come out of the
blue, she says. Critical illness coverage can
provide extra money and peace of mind to
weather a health-related storm. “It’s like a living life insurance policy,” Whitfield says.
For this reason, she feels it is vital for employers to consider offering a critical illness
plan in addition to health coverage. Even the
best medical insurance won’t cover all costs,
especially when combating a major illness.
In addition to copayments and deductibles—
which can be several thousand dollars with
today’s high-deductible health plans—a family
could face many other non-covered expenses,
such as travel for treatment, child care, and lost
wages. “When employees aren’t worried about
paying the bills,” Whitfield says, “they can re-cover quicker and get back to work sooner.”
Colonial Life’s dental and life insurance
products are also common add-ons with employers in Alaska. Identity theft, legal, and tele-medicine plans are also becoming increasing
popular with consumers of all demographics,
New York Life also offers an array of supplemental insurance products to meet the varied needs of consumers. Its life insurance options include term life, which is for a specific
time; whole life, which provides lifetime coverage and builds cash value; and universal, a
flexible cash-building option.
Most companies that provide benefits include group life insurance with the health
insurance plans they offer employees, according to Linda Hulbert, a Fairbanks-based
independent agent for New York Life Insurance Company. Life insurance can be one of
the products an employer offers at its discretion. Employees may be able to purchase extra coverage and have the premium deducted
from their paychecks. “In today’s competitive
economy, employers are increasingly making
life insurance available to their employees as
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