As we discussed in my last blog, retaining your blocks of group and voluntary products is all about service and that service is a function of technology solutions that are built with employers in mind. When it comes to portal service however, carriers need to look at all of the stakeholders who can benefit from portal improvement. Employers, employees, benefit administrators and brokers are all in need of improved access to group and voluntary benefits systems with views tailored to their separate needs, so insurers interested in capitalizing on the group market for growth, need to look seriously at their portal capabilities. Why is it so important?
Health insurers have quickly become adept at portal development and maintenance, so much so that website services are now a selling point for health carriers. Employees are regularly encouraged by Human Resources to reference these sites for choosing a doctor, checking on claims, etc. Employees and employers then look at their other benefits and wonder why some services are still only accessed through a customer service phone number. A lack of portal access has the tendency to make group and voluntary carriers look antiquated, when in reality, for those who carry multiple products, portals aren’t so easy to develop.
Here is where an organization’s needs rely greatly upon their previous experience. A traditional life carrier who is hoping to move into the group space may already have consumer and agent portals and be familiar with those needs. They may need to draw upon consultant or vendor expertise to build a highly functional employer portal. Employer portals tend to be complex because of the kinds of data that employers would like to see. Superior employer portals will allow for several types of reports that employers commonly need to keep historical information and premium billing information clear for accounting purposes.
Long-time group insurers may have excellent employer portals, but less than adequate employee and/or broker portals. With increased competition from both group players and traditional life players, they also need to catch up to employer expectations. In many cases, their systems are in desperate need of modernization and their technology needs will be best met starting with a discovery process through an experienced tech partner.
Most employers consider carriers as “plug and play” year in and year out. Modernization of systems and portals, and tailoring efforts toward the group and voluntary benefits markets will allow insurers to capture longer-term employer relationships and build a series of strong successes.