Voluntary Benefits Technology Isn’t Voluntary—If You Want to Compete

Four qualities voluntary benefits technology should have, and four benefits that flow from them.

 

(Image credit: Adobe Stock.)

Employers want a more flexible way to help employees deal with growing out-of-pocket medical expenses following the Affordable Care Act. And they’re increasingly turning to voluntary and worksite benefits to do that. According to a LIMRA study, 400,000 businesses were considering adding voluntary plans in 2014 and it’s likely that number has only increased since then.

To meet demand, more carriers are offering these benefits to small and mid-sized businesses in the U.S. and Canada. But those with legacy systems are struggling.

Better Systems, Better Service

Insurers play a vital role. They see where gaps exist and develop affordable products to help fill them. But traditional carriers are in a difficult position right now because the industry is primed for disruption by aggressive tech companies. Google, for instance, invested more than $32 million in a health insurance company last year.

To fight these new threats and remain a strong force, a carrier must have the technological infrastructure in place to be flexible, fast, accurate and affordable. What does it take for insurers to compete in the fast-evolving voluntary benefits industry? They must invest in technology that allows for:

  • Self-service for employees
  • Online enrollment, on a PC, tablet or smartphone
  • Automated underwriting and claims processing
  • Streamlined, digitized processes from start to finish

Technology Helps or Hindrance?

Voluntary benefits can’t be effectively and affordably serviced without the right technology. Using a decades-old legacy system is like driving on the interstate in a Model T. Or surfing the web with a dial-up modem.

Let’s take a look at four benefits carriers gain from adopting new technology:

Reduced IT costs: The cost of constantly updating a legacy system, patching its utilities and maintaining close-to-obsolete tech can be crippling to an insurer. A new system or best of breed components can pays for itself in a few years because operating costs are so much lower. Better accuracy: New tech allows data to be entered only once. Then, multiple systems and departments can access, track, and analyze it which creates multiple opportunities. Business configuration capabilities: Have business users make changes instead of IT.

Consistent compliance: Technology can help an insurer comply with current regulations while also helping facilitate smoother adjustment to new regulations. Systems reduce errors, can flag potential violations, and help keep information secure.

Lower administration costs: Streamline. With the right group insurance technology solution, an insurer can easily integrate CRM, sales, underwriting, proposals, enrollment, policy issue and renewals to offer a unified, straight-through process experience.

Attracting brokers: Make it easier to do business with your firm. Brokers and consultants give more business to insurers that have modern IT. Faster more accurate quotes leads to increased sales. Broker tools and functionality that can be added to a sales and underwriting system also can be an asset.

Michael J. de Waal // Mike de Waal is president and founder of Global IQX, an Ottawa-based software provider of web-based sales and service solutions to employee benefits insurers.  He has deep experience in both software development and business management skills. Early in his career, he worked as a computer programmer and then went on to become a financial planner and a benefits consultant with giant Manulife Financial before becoming a tech entrepreneur.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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