As enrollment season nears the corner, brokers often wonder – what is this year’s market outlook for small group insurance? In September, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) published a report focusing on the employer-sponsored insurance segment. Below are the facts you need to know about the small business market, as well as tips on how you can leverage this information to increase your competitiveness and sales as a small group broker.

 

The small business outlook is bright

Small business owners are optimistic about their financial positions and the economy as a whole. 81% of small business owners are comfortable with their current cash flow, while 41% of small businesses are more optimistic about the national economy now compared to last quarter.

The optimism within the small business segment is a significant opportunity. Small businesses that previously have not offered insurance to employees may be more willing to do so now and will require a broker to guide their decision. Of the nearly 6 million small businesses purchasing insurance for their employees, 80%  choose to rely on the expertise of a broker.  Why?  Because insurance is inherently complex and costly, requiring the empathy, education, and expertise of a broker.

Premium growth remains stable

In 2017, the average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance are $6,690 for single coverage and $18,764 for family coverage. Compared to last year, the average single premium increased 4%, and the average family premium increased 3% – a relatively stable amount given that workers’ wages increased 2.3% and inflation increased 2.2% over the last year.

Stable premium growth is a great sign for brokers whose customers fear an increase in the cost of employee coverage. The stability in the employer market is an opportunity for brokers to start conversations with business owners on offering health benefits to their employees. It is up to brokers to educate small business owners on the value of coverage and to assist employers in finding the best value option, a massive opportunity to grow your book of business.

Ancillary sales are a big sales opportunity

Among large firms, 97% offer dental benefits and 82% offer vision benefits. For small business, this number is dramatically lower, with 67% offering dental benefits and 47% offering vision benefits. While overall coverage rates for small businesses is at 62%, ancillary benefits are still a large need – and opportunity – for brokers and small businesses alike.

Ancillary (or supplemental) insurance offers an opportunity for brokers to fill coverage gaps left by health plans. Moreover, ancillary benefits like dental, vision, disability, accident, and life usually have lower premiums and are a great way for small businesses to make their employees happy. Selling ancillary benefits also provides brokers an opportunity to upsell to those that do offer medical coverage.

 

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