Jesse Oberloh, GBA October 19, 2017 8 min read

How to Gain a Competitive Edge by Offering Nontraditional Employee Benefits

Voluntary benefits are benefits offered in addition to employees’ core compensation and benefits packages. Many employers consider expanding their voluntary benefits to compensate for increasing health care costs, which is a major factor in the recent trend toward providing a wider array of voluntary benefits. Voluntary benefits cost employers little to nothing while making compensation packages more attractive to employees.

voluntary benefits

These benefits can be insurance or non-insurance products. Voluntary insurance benefits give employees the opportunity to take advantage of lower group rates, the convenience of payroll deductions and, in some cases, pre-tax deductions.  Non-insurance voluntary benefits offer extra value to an employee’s benefits package. Many of these benefits are designed to offer simplicity, convenience, or money-saving options to various aspects of employees’ lives.

Today we will focus on three increasingly popular nontraditional voluntary benefits that employers are using to gain a competitive edge in the battle of attracting and retaining employees in a tightening talent pool.

Legal Plans

Studies reveal that employees suffering through legal problems are typically absent from work five times more than average, resulting in lower productivity. Group legal plans can alleviate stress and reduce the time it takes for employees to resolve legal issues, enabling them to again focus on their job.

Let’s take a look:

  • Employees pay into the program through payroll deductions, and, when legal assistance is needed, an attorney is accessible without the high cost of legal fees.
  • Legal plan benefits can help employees in a variety of situations, ranging from phone consultations to courtroom appearances. For any legal plan, certain services are covered. Matters that are not covered will often be provided at a reduced rate.
  • Offering a group legal plan comes at no cost to the employer. Employees pay through a payroll deduction, and, when employees need to use the benefit, they communicate directly with the legal plan provider.

Pet Insurance

According to a survey by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, almost two-thirds of pet owners consider their animals to be a member of the family and are willing to go to great lengths to ensure their pet’s health. Offering pet insurance as a voluntary benefit may be a useful and appreciated benefit. The possibility of saving a pet from life-threatening injury and disease has increased. However, the cost of veterinary care has risen as well. Having pet insurance can provide employees with the ability to say “yes” to costly but life-saving operations.

Let’s dive in:

  • Most plans are focused on non-routine care and will cover a new illness, disease, or injury.
  • Pet insurance policies will specify expenses that are not covered. While every plan is different, the following are items that are typically excluded: Elective procedures; Prosthetic limbs; Grooming; Training or behavioral problems; Pre-existing conditions; Breeding; Burial-related expenses.
  • Employees pay premiums through payroll deductions. Employers receive a group discount code to give to interested employees, who then handle enrollment and benefit selection process on their own. Claims are handled by the insurance carrier, so very little attention needs to be paid beyond the initial setup.

Identity Theft Insurance

According to the Federal Trade Commission, as many as 13 million Americans become victims of identity theft each year. Identity theft occurs when someone obtains personally identifying information, such as a person’s name, credit card number, birth date, Social Security number, home address or bank account numbers, and then illegitimately use this information. This unauthorized use of personal information can result in great financial loss as the thief amasses credit card debt and tarnishes the victim’s credit rating.

Repairing the damage from identity theft can be a daunting and financially taxing task. After losing money to identity theft, no one wants to spend more on the fees and charges that accompany re-establishing a good name and credit.

Here’s some more information:

  • Identity theft insurance assists with the process of recovering from identity theft. Most plans will cover basic expenses incurred during the identity recovery process. In addition, the insurance may cover fees for a fraud specialist who can support and guide your employees through the recovery process.
  • Employees pay their premiums through payroll deductions and benefit from a group rate, which is likely less expensive than insurance they could purchase individually. The insurance carriers handle all claims, minimizing the paperwork employers have to process after initial setup and enrollment.
  • This type of insurance does not reimburse loss from theft such as stolen credit card
  • Aside from some plans which may provide free credit monitoring, identity theft insurance does not work to prevent identity theft.

Offering nontraditional voluntary benefits is a great way to enhance your benefits package, differentiate yourself from competitors and increase employee satisfaction—all with little impact on your budget and time. Employees benefit from reduced group rates, convenience of payroll deductions, and the ease of having multiple options all in one place. Additionally, a good voluntary benefits selection promotes goodwill because employees can choose the options that are best for them and their families.


Jesse Oberloh, GBA

Jesse capitalizes on his 15 year background in risk management and account services to develop benefit programs for employers in a way that improves the overall health and productivity of the workforce. He is an expert in alternative funding methods for insurance including self-funded, limited funded and captive plans. By staying well informed on the latest industry trends, Jesse is able to provide proactive and strategic solutions for benefits clients. Prior to joining Hausmann-Johnson Insurance, he was Manager of Member Services at The Alliance, as well as an Account Executive at an insurance company. He is a member of the Wisconsin Association of Health Underwriters and participates in local community chambers and SHRM chapters. Jesse graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Finance & Investments, Risk Management & Insurance, and Human Resources Management. He proudly supports Badger Football and is a 15-year season ticket holder. He loves spending time up north at the family cabin fishing with his children or sneaking in a round of golf whenever possible. He also coaches his son’s Verona flag football and little league baseball teams.