Another Once-Prevalent Employee Benefit on the Wane

And it's not the only benefit that employers have curtailed since the Great Recession

401k, retirement, life insurance, LIMRAEmployers more cautious in wake of ACA legislation.

Yet another reason for a strong 401k?

In 2017, only 48 percent of employers offered life insurance to their workers, a 23 percent decline from 2006.

While access to employer-sponsored life insurance has steadily dwindled, employees continue to recognize its value, new LIMRA research finds.

Six in 10 employees say life insurance is an important or very important benefit, regardless of whether they currently have it available to them through their employer.

In fact, it is one of the top five benefits listed by employees, included with dental, medical, paid time off and retirement.

In 2016, LIMRA research revealed that more Americans rely on group life insurance than individual life insurance (108 million versus 102 million) to protect their families. This was the first time in history that employer-sponsored life insurance exceeded individual life insurance.

Among American households without benefit of group or individual life insurance, three quarters say they would have immediate or near-immediate trouble paying for basic living expenses if the primary wage earner died.

The number drops to about half for those households with group life insurance coverage.

Life insurance is not the only benefit that employers have curtailed since the Great Recession, according to LIMRA.

The study, Hidden Currents: Under-the-Surface Changes in the Employee Benefits Market, revealed that benefit penetration rates are nowhere near the level they were pre-recession.

Despite the improving economy, employers are cautious due to the challenges that ACA legislation is posing and increases in the average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance, which drive employers’ overall benefit policies.

The study shows there is a drop in the overall percentage of employers offering various benefits, including medical insurance, dental insurance, long-term disability insurance and cancer insurance.

It would appear the improved economy has not changed employers’ strategy around benefits. LIMRA finds on average, employers offered seven benefits to their employees in 2017, down from eight benefits in 2014.

In addition, only one in 10 employers who currently offer insurance benefits plan to add a benefit in the next 18 months.

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