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LIMRA Group and Worksite Benefits Conference

By Michael Kelly

CEO, FINEOS

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the LIMRA Employee Benefits conference in Baltimore with a FINEOS colleague. This is a business segment of the insurance carrier market in which FINEOS has built up significant market leadership with our FINEOS Claims software, so I was keen to meet our customers and listen to what the invited industry speakers and luminaries had to say.

There is no doubt that market dynamics we have witnessed, such as the introduction of Public and Private Exchanges, the shifting focus from employer-paid to employee-paid Benefits and the growing demands from US employers for greater assistance and value from their Benefit carriers is having an enormous effect on this segment of the insurance industry.

Speaker after speaker referred to the customer experience, the implications of Obamacare, rising health costs, changes in distribution and policy funding models, advances in technology and the implications of these changing market dynamics are having on insurance carriers; implying carriers need to offer more flexibility, speed, value and improved overall customer service in today’s modern digital business world.

Carriers are really struggling today given the need to support Group, Voluntary and Individual Benefit plans, where the customer (i.e. the person) is at the heart of everything, with the likelihood of having multiple relationships, roles, product covers and more regular interactions with the carrier, the carrier’s agents and/or business partners. This matrix relationship trend will continue and grow for sure, and we at FINEOS believe this is a big opportunity for the carrier if they use smart ways of taking advantage of it with the support of their core systems technology.

The key takeaway from this LIMRA conference for us was it reconfirmed our own belief that Employee Benefit carriers need a new generation of back-office administration systems to enable them to engage, fully serve and do business with their customers. This is an underserved segment of the Life and Health market in the area of modern ‘off-the-shelf’ component based, back-office administration systems and there are no credible choices available to US carriers who want (and need) to do Group and Voluntary business on a single back-office platform.

The other interesting observation we both had was the sudden appearance of a number of P&C and Individual line Life policy administration vendors who turned up at the conference with the message they are entering the Benefits administration market with the promise to customise their policy administration systems to suit the unique requirements of Group and Voluntary carriers.

From market research and analysis we have conducted with our own customers and third party consultants on the Policy Administration Systems vendor landscape over the past two years, we concluded the generation of Group Policy Administration Systems in today’s market were very much designed for pure Group Administration and, likewise, the Individual Policy Administration systems out there today were designed for Individual business only – neither were designed for both types of business model on a single platform and of course P&C business is a totally different business altogether!

Today FINEOS Claims delivers a sizeable element of the modern back-office administration system required for Group and Voluntary carriers and indeed during system implementation FINEOS Claims is tightly integrated with whatever back-office administration system(s) are in place so it becomes the master of all claims management and payments.

Over the past 18 months the FINEOS team has been working on a new and expanded generation of our product suite which will strengthen our dominant market position with Group and Voluntary carriers. This exciting research and development work will see us introduce back office software product components to enable carriers to greatly improve their customer service and retire their legacy back-office software systems in an orderly manner. Our new product components will complement and fully integrate with our flagship FINEOS Claims product, so our existing FINEOS customers will have the benefit of adding significant core systems processing and customer service capability to their already deployed FINEOS Claims production systems.

Given 8 of the top 20 US Group Life and Health carriers have chosen FINEOS to be their Claims solution, these carriers are in a great position to take full advantage of our new suite of back office product components which we will be launching early in 2015. Of course all of our FINEOS Claims global customer-base will benefit!