Securian adds decision-making tool for voluntary benefits

Securian Financial wants to help employees make better choices when it comes to voluntary benefits.

The financial services company is now offering Benefit Scout, a new decision-making tool to help guide employees when selecting these benefits. Travis Symoniak, Securian Financial’s manager of group insurance enrollment solutions, says the platform can help employees determine what type of insurance they should select. The offering also has a text-based chatbot that can answer employees’ basic benefits questions.

“We break [the benefits] into packages,” he says. “We wanted to give them bite size information — a best fit recommendation.”

See also: Employees don’t understand their health benefits — and employers aren’t helping

The platform uses artificial intelligence to analyze lifestyle and demographic information, such as an employee’s age and whether or not they have children. Based on the responses, Benefit Scout suggests voluntary insurance plans and an amount of coverage. Offerings can include, for example, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, hospital indemnity and critical illness.

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Securian tested Benefit Scout in a pilot with three clients. A large healthcare provider with more than 41,000 workers found that 92% of employees who used the tool were more confident about their benefit choices, Securian wrote in a statement. The company would not disclose the names of the employers currently using Benefit Scout, but it will be offered for free to qualifying Securian clients.

Although employers are offering more innovative benefits, employees need significant time and tools to fully understand their offerings. For instance, a survey from benefits provider Unum found that the quality of benefits education was directly related to employee satisfaction at work. The company also found that employees needed at least three types of communication and three weeks of time to make good benefit choices.

See also: Employees don’t understand basic insurance terms. Here’s how employers can help

Increasingly, tech companies are developing tools with the goal of better educating employees on their benefits. Financial services company Finfit, for example, recently updated Ready University, the education portion of its financial wellness platform to test employees’ knowledge of topics ranging from student loan debt to planning for retirement. Benefits administration company DataPath developed the comic book character Captain Contributor, to help explain benefits like HSAs to employees through interactive videos, podcasts, blogs and social media.

Symoniak says Benefit Scout should give employees a better understanding of what these benefits are and which they should select. Typically, he says, employees aren’t clear on the appropriate amount of coverage.

“[Employees] need help understanding the value of these benefits and how much do they need to elect,” Symoniak says.

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