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As in other crowded marketplaces, competing in the voluntary benefits marketplace requires the ability for an insurer to differentiate itself from its competitors. Prudential Group Insurance (Newark, N.J.), which entered the voluntary benefits market in 2013 with critical illness and accident products, decided that it needed to address the limitations of its legacy systems in order to offer the ease of administration for brokers, customers and employees required to stand out among competitors.
“We found our legacy systems difficult to configure in a way that would drive the customer experience necessary to compete in this business,” comments Paul Virtell, VP, Product Management, Prudential Group Insurance. “Very strong capabilities in billing, commission and claims are table stakes, so we elected to find a partner that could help us differentiate ourselves with those capabilities and deliver customer-focused automation.”
Prudential considered a small number of what it identified as true group insurance administration systems and undertook an extensive selection process involving a significant research effort and multiple site visits, according to Virtell. The insurer chose Vitech (New York) as its vendor partner for its deep voluntary benefits experience, and its modern and flexible V3locity system, delivered through the cloud.
Cloud Delivery Advantages
“Having a contemporary and innovative technology solution that supported our modernization strategy was an important objective during the vendor selection process,” Virtell says. “V3locity is a leading cloud-based administrative system that addresses our critical requirement for enabling our growing voluntary business in a highly flexible, scalable, and low maintenance environment.”
Key to Prudential’s strategy was selecting a partner that shared a “customer-obsessed” vision, Virtell stresses. “We felt that the Vitech platform gives us a look-and-feel to replicate the Prudential experience—which eases the transition of customers to new products,” he says.
From a broker and employer perspective, the V3locity platform lets Prudential deliver flexible plan designs in order to tailor aspects of administration to the requirements of brokers and employers, according to Virtell.
“We felt that Vitech had ability to scale with us from both product and volume perspectives,” Virtell adds. “As we launch new products, we think they’re a partner that can scale with us.”
Prudential engaged with Vitech in April 2018 and began implementation about four months later. “In August we were focused on project planning, resource allocation and requirements,” Virtell relates. “That culminated in a high-level design [HLD] phase, which was completed in early October. We began our first sprints at that time, which went on through the end of 2019.”
The insurer completed configuration of V3locity and went into the testing phase in March 2019. Having completed the phases of the project on-time and on-budget to this point, Prudential is currently some weeks into user acceptance testing and expects to go live on the system by June 2019.
New Accident, Critical Illness and Hospital Indemnity Products
With the go-live of V3locity, Prudential will launch new accident and critical illness products on the system, as well as a debuting a completely new hospital indemnity product. Other products and capabilities will follow in what Prudential characterizes as a multi-phase implementation.
As with any implementation, the V3locity initiative had its challenges, but in addressing them Prudential enjoyed the advantages of a good relationship with its vendor partner, according to Virtell. “The engagement between Prudential and Vitech has been very strong, so, when we come to challenges it’s been a team effort to overcome them,” he comments.
As an example, Prudential had a clear plan and expectations with regard to supporting record-keeping within case management. However, when interacting with clients, that didn’t match to what data Prudential could secure. “We had to team up and problem solve to minimize the impact to broker and client,” Virtell recalls. “We developed a means to take multiple formats of data—basically however the client gets it to us—reducing the burden on the customer in that respect.” When faced with a potentially significant challenge, Virtell concludes, “We were able to get together, collaborate, and come to a resolution that was customer focused.”
Decreasing the Burden to Brokers, Clients & Employees
Prudential anticipates meeting important goals from the implementation upon go-live and sees its decision to leverage Vitech’s expertise in voluntary benefits as an affirmation of its commitment to investing in the right technology and enabling better integration with its clients. Virtell places the initiative within Prudential’s institutional focus on the financial wellness of its clients and end customers.
“Today probably more than ever, people are facing challenges that they may not have had in the past,” Virtell elaborates. “They face more gaps in health insurance coverage and non-traditional challenges such as student loan debt and caregiver support for aging parents. What this initiative does is allow us to administer these voluntary benefits products as we develop them and bring them to market, which in turn will decrease the burden to brokers, customers and employees in accessing that insurance.”