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Independence Blue Cross, Guardian form partnership

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Independence Blue Cross (IBC) and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) have formed a strategic relationship to provide Guardian’s specialty insurance products to IBC members and employer groups. The new benefit options — life, short-term disability, long-term disability, accident, critical illness, and cancer insurance — are an important addition to IBC’s line of products as they offer members financial protection from unforeseen hardships and expenses. The benefits will be available to employers with 51 or more enrolled members this fall for group plan renewals on or after Jan. 1. These products will be available to employers with two to 50 enrolled members by mid-2014. The combination provides employers the following insurance products:

  • Life — Group term and supplemental insurance;
  • Disability — Long-term and short-term disability coverage for employees;
  • Accident — Provides benefit payment for services or procedures due to a covered accident, such as x-rays and ambulance services, regardless of what is covered by the employee’s medical policy. A key differentiator of this product is a special benefit providing enhanced coverage for children injured in organized sports;
  • Critical illness — Cancer, heart attack, stroke, and major organ transplants. Provides a lump sum benefit payment to help employees pay for out-of-pocket medical costs and non-medical costs;
  • Cancer — Provides a lump sum benefit payment in the event of a cancer diagnosis. Includes payments for certain procedures, screenings, and treatments.

Employer benefits include:

  • Convenience — The convenience of offering to employees a complete benefits package of quality medical and non-medical products;
  • Medical discount — Some employers may qualify for a medical discount on bundled products;
  • Dedicated claims analyst — Access to experienced claims analysts dedicated to managing claims quickly and efficiently.

In other industry news:

Aflac created the Health Care Reform Communication Toolkit to help employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act inform their employees about the Health Insurance Marketplace and subsidies, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), by Oct. 1.

Toolkit materials include:

  • Email and letter templates – one for employers who will offer health insurance and one for those who won’t that can be used to fulfill the PPACA communication requirement.
  • A PowerPoint presentation with a high-level overview of the PPACA.
  • FAQs that address changes to employee benefits plans.
  • Videos highlighting Health Insurance Marketplace basics and levels of coverage.

Aflac also enhanced its Lump Sum Critical Illness insurance policy to offer more options such as guaranteed-issue, dependent child coverage and an HSA-compatible policy. The new plan pays cash benefits to help employees with costs associated with an unexpected health event that might not be covered by major medical insurance. These cash benefits can be used for medical treatment, living expenses and other out-of-pocket expenses for a covered critical illness event including heart attack, stroke, paralysis, coma, major human organ transplant and end-stage renal failure.

The Lump Sum Critical Illness insurance policy highlights include:

  • Employers can offer additional benefits solutions that best meet the needs of their employees such as:
  • Guaranteed-issue is available for $10,000 of coverage including an optional Lump Sum Cancer Rider.
  • An HSA-compatible (health savings account) policy is available.
  • Dependent children are covered at no additional cost.
  • Major critical illness event benefit: The plan offers up to $100,000 of coverage.

The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) appointed Michelle L. Hoesly, CLU, ChFC, as president and Mark J. Hanna, CLU, ChFC, as secretary of the organization’s Executive Committee, effective Sept. 1, 2013.

As president, Hoesly will work with the Executive Committee to guide the committee in its goal to ensure MDRT remains a thriving association that continues to offer opportunities for members to broaden their expertise and grow their businesses. She will ensure that MDRT continues to educate members about the vital role the advisor plays in helping clients protect their families and businesses with life insurance.

Hoesly succeeds 30-year MDRT member D. Scott Brennan who will become the immediate past president. Caroline A. Banks, APFS, a 24-year MDRT member, will serve as first vice president, and Brian D. Heckert, CLU, ChFC, a 25-year MDRT member, will serve as second vice president.

Serving as the 88th president, Hoesly will lead the association of more than 38,000 international members for a one-year term.

As a member of MDRT for 34 years, Hoesly has been recognized with several professional merits, with three Court of the Table and nine Top of the Table honors. She is also a Legion of Honor Excalibur Knight-level donor for contributing a cumulative $100,000 to the MDRT Foundation, the philanthropic arm of MDRT. Hoesly is also a member of its 2013 Inner Circle Society, a distinguished group of donors who have supported the MDRT Foundation with annual gifts totaling $5,000 or more.

Hanna, the newest member of the Executive Committee, is a 25-year member of the association and holds three Court of the Table and 14 Top of the Table honors. He is also a Royal Order Excalibur Knight in recognition of his cumulative contribution to the MDRT Foundation, the philanthropic arm of MDRT. Hanna is also a member of its 2013 Inner Circle Society.

The Principal Financial Group announced it will expand its dental network to more than 260,000 office locations nationwide.

Along with the increase in network offices, the agreement also increases the number of individual dentists in the Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) network to more than 100,000.

The Principal Plan dental network dentists agree to discounted fees and a review of their professional credentials. These discounts translate to lower out-of-pocket costs for members and a lower rate for employers. Members who use an in-network dentist experience a significant savings on dental treatments.

The Principal provides a number of interactive tools to help members get the most out of their dental benefits through The Principal Dental Health Edge. Members can access information on procedures, treatment plans, network providers and basic oral health information. The site includes a cost estimator, which calculates dental costs in a given ZIP code and a database of network providers who offer discounted charges and fees.

The total sales of Symetra Life Insurance’s Symetra Edge Pro Fixed Indexed Annuity crossed the $1 billion mark.

Introduced in April 2011 and sold through banks and broker-dealers, Edge Pro is designed to help meet the retirement planning needs of customers looking for diversification and principal protection. The product gives clients the choice of two index options — the S&P 500 Index and the S&P GSCI Excess Return Index — and offers a fixed account option and guaranteed minimum value feature.

With Symetra Edge Pro’sguaranteed minimum value feature, customers who leave their money untouched through the end of the five- or seven-year surrender charge period will see growth regardless of index performance. If the unexpected happens, customers have multiple ways to access their money, including the ability to withdraw up to 10 percent of the contract value annually, free of surrender charge. Guaranteed lifetime income options and a nursing home and hospitalization waiver also are available.

To help sustain growth, Symetra’s Retirement Sales team is expanding its wholesaling support in two new territories — New Jersey and northern Florida. These additions will bring to 26 the number of wholesaling territories across the country supporting Symetra retirement products.

Symetra Edge Pro is available through select banks and broker-dealers.

Oracle announced that Oracle Insurance Policy Administration for Life and Annuity version 10 will be generally available on Oct. 4. The new version enables insurers to support nearly any insurance product – group or individual – via a single platform, and features expanded rules reuse capabilities that help speed time-to-market.

The solutions is a flexible, centralized and rules-based solution that supports end-to-end processes including policy setup and issue, enrollment, underwriting, billing, collections, policy processing and claims.

Primerica Financial Services selected FireLight from Insurance Technologies LLC as the e-application business fulfillment platform for its annuity business.  

FireLight, offered under the name AnnuityPro, will be accessible to Primerica advisors through the Primerica Advisor POL portal, providing advisors a mobile accessible platform to process applications quickly and in good order. FireLight provides a user-friendly, adoptable e-application solution that utilizes existing business processes and built-in e-signature. Primerica will use FireLight to process annuity business including client onboarding documents, suitability forms and state filed forms. Primerica’s orders will be routed electronically to The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) as an associated firm. Additionally, FireLight uses HTML5 technology, providing a device agnostic and tablet-friendly solution.

Flexible Benefit Service Corporation (Flex) celebrated its 25th anniversary in the health insurance industry. Flex is a general agency and account-based benefits administrator, that also operates the InsureXSolutions private health insurance exchange.

“We opened our doors 25 years ago with an entrepreneurial spirit, and although the industry is under considerable change right now, that same mindset continues to propel us forward,” said John DiVito, president of Flex.

Some of its achievements include:

2012 – InsureXSolutions private insurance exchange launched;

2004 – FlexHSA Health Savings Accounts introduced;

1997 – General Agency launched;

1988 – Flexible Spending Account (FSA) / Cafeteria Plan services launched.