Open enrollment is complete for most client companies. That means, for most group life and voluntary benefits providers, this year’s business is underway. System holes and glitches may be cropping up. Customer service is doing their best to handle those problems with a smile and some workarounds. Everything is either falling into place or falling apart. Every good intention that an organization had BEFORE open enrollment is being put to the test. Delivering good service this year will protect the account for next year. Now is the perfect time to assess and adjust.
Great service is the result of a combination of efficient processes and excellent technology solutions that fit employer needs.
In this blog and my next several blogs, we will be focusing on group and voluntary insurance concerns and issues, most of which center around providing great service through efficient processes and modern technology. Service always matters, but nowhere does it matter more than in the group and voluntary insurance space where bad service issues don’t end in your loss of one policy, but perhaps the loss of hundreds or even thousands of policies. Maintaining a high level of forethought and keeping service a focus will create loyalty from within employers and brokers and will make it difficult to consider changing carriers for a good rate at the expense of a consistent and remarkable service experience. In this competitive market, every case counts.
Excellent group and voluntary insurance service throughout the year begins with the execution of a near-flawless enrollment event. The goal is to prevent any significant issues that could occur during the enrollment that would destroy the ability to effectively and accurately generate the first, and subsequent, bills. In future blogs, we’ll go into greater detail about enrollment. Past enrollment, there are dozens of other billing capabilities that are important to employers and the way they interact with carriers. In a 2014 Novarica report on Group Life, Annuity and Voluntary benefits, some of the needed capabilities of billing are detailed, such as the “ability to convert an insured from group to individual products as well as the ability to transfer a participant from one group to another.” For traditional group insurers with legacy group systems, capabilities like these are rarely available.
An extended, but related issue is that of reconciling account payments. In the traditional group relationship, one lump sum payment was made for the group and payment adjustments were relatively simple. Today’s benefits environment needs to have the capability to maintain large groups while also understanding the data of each individual employee and their movement within and outside of the company.
Importing payroll deduction files, employee census information and termination data is quickly becoming an expectation among the nations largest employer populations so that timely account reconciling can occur. Carriers that provide for these needs will make it difficult for employers to search elsewhere next year. The employer and the carrier become part of one another’s internal process in these situations — the key to retaining that block of business. These types of activities are often carried out through a strong carrier portal that will meet an employer’s needs by addressing some of the multiple ways that employers wish to interact. Even small employers are trying to advance their capabilities and will appreciate carriers who give them functional portal access. Next month, we’ll dive into the need for a fresh look at group and voluntary insurance portals and how these also provide the high level of service employers are seeking in their benefits partners.