Onboarding new groups remains a challenging, cumbersome part of the enrollment process for employee benefits insurers. While proposals are well automated, as is policy administration, onboarding has not been automated, leaving a gap that carriers fill with an assortment of methods.
By Jeff Weaver | 18 October 2022
Onboarding Challenges and Frustrations
The complexity lies in that each product—group medical, dental, life, vision, and disability—requires different data to be collected. But the information gathered during the rating and proposal process isn’t sufficient. The employee’s gender, date of birth, zip code, and perhaps salary isn’t adequate to issue policies and pay claims.
Besides additional employee information, the insurer needs corporate information, such as affiliates, federal tax identification numbers, and ERISA plan numbers. Many employers have multiple billing divisions that pay premiums separately. How to collect that information has plagued insurer’s departments for decades.
Two factors compound urgency. First, because about 80% of group plans renew on Jan. 1, insurers face a big crunch in the fall gathering data from paper forms, emails, and the like.
Additionally, employers — especially those sponsoring small and medium-sized groups — are changing insurers more often as they try to save every dollar on employee benefits. As a result, groups of 50 to 200 lives often go out to bid annually.
Thus, the costs of onboarding a new client can no longer be amortized over five years. Carriers need more automated, cost-effective digitized ways to onboard groups.
Some insurers have tried using CRM systems and other workarounds to improve efficiency. But those attempts have failed, and the process remains primarily manual.
Enrollment solutions that address onboarding are, however, being developed. Successful vendors will need to use these to remain competitive in the future.
Creating a Successful Onboarding System
Automated Data Capture
Manually entering information into the policy administration system results in missing data, errors and time-consuming back and forth. It can make onboarding a three-month process.
Practical importing tools will allow onboarding software to import and map data to system variables for seamless integration and efficiency. The solution should also include a support portal where human resources administrators can log on and enter data into the system or use the import function to upload the entire group.
Employee data must be correct and complete when entered. Built-in rules will enforce quality. For example, if a date of birth is missing or a year is entered incorrectly, the software will flag the error and require the user to fix it. This ensures data integrity and accurate rating.
The onboarding system can provide increased data security by eliminating manual data collection and handling and using portals to enter and store employee information. In addition, it must comply with privacy regulations regarding personally identifiable information (PII), ensuring a secure way to gather and store employee information.
Integrating onboarding closely with proposal and policy systems is essential to efficient workflow. Tightly integrating it with your underwriting and proposal system will provide flexibility to easily navigate the sold-case process as changes in the group arise after the policy is sold but before the effective date.
Rethinking Employee Benefits Onboarding
Digitized onboarding systems are becoming popular amongst customers. In fact, 48% of employers have adopted a system or platform for their employee benefits onboarding processes, increasing 18% from 2017 to 2020.
Modern onboarding software ultimately may help transform the entire policy lifecycle.
Get the latest insights to your inbox
Get the Newsletter
Jeffrey M. Weaver, MSL, FLMI
Director of U.S. Underwriting & Actuarial Services, Global IQX
Jeff is responsible for driving the underwriting solutions that help clients build their product suite while bringing value to their customers.
Jeff brings over 20 years of group underwriting experience to Global IQX. He joined Global IQX after working at LifeMap Assurance Company in Portland OR where he headed the underwriting department.
Jeff has served in the military for over 30 years. He is a Lieutenant-Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves currently assigned as the Commander of the 36th Aerial Port Squadron, Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA. Before the Air Force, he served in the Marine Corps as a sergeant.
Jeff has a B.S. degree in actuarial mathematics from Oregon State University and a Master’s Degree in Leadership from Trident University. He holds an FMLI designation from the Fellow Life Management Institute. He lives in Portland, OR and enjoys spending time woodworking, traveling, and playing pool.