The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), a mutual life insurer, and through its subsidiary Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, a provider of individual disability income (DI) insurance, announced the introduction of Guardian DI QUICKQuote. This industry-first mobile sales tool allows financial professionals to access current product information and pricing, enabling them to provide on-the-spot quotes for individual disability income insurance to current and prospective clients. According to a press release, Guardian DI QUICKQuote decreases the response time for current quote requests from days to seconds, using interactive and easy-to-use configurations. In addition to implementing Guardian DI QUICKQuote, Berkshire has completed its initial rollout of a new, advanced underwriting system and is the only individual DI carrier to offer a student loan rider. Guardian and its subsidiary’s disability income insurance products include group disability, individual disability, small business protection, and supplemental disability income protection. This full suite is positioned to help meet the income protection needs of employers, professionals, individuals, and small business owners.

In other Guardian Life news, the company announced the start of construction for a new facility for its employees located in the Hanover Township area. The new building will comprise 281,680 gross square feet of space and will be built on a thirty-one acre site. The new facility is set to open in 2016 at 6255 Sterners Way in Hanover Township and will replace Guardian’s current regional headquarters in the area located in three buildings in Bethlehem and one in Allentown. “This is an exciting step toward our goal of making our employee workspaces as open, safe, and adaptable as they can be. The new facility will create innovative workspace arrangements, leverage technology enhancements, and accommodate flexible work arrangement options,” stated Scott Dolfi, COO of Guardian. In addition to the Bethlehem location, Guardian has regional offices in Appleton, Wisconsin; Pittsfield, Massachusetts; and Spokane, Washington. Guardian is headquartered in New York City.

Adding to their extensive disability and income protection insurance catalogue, Petersen International Underwriters announced the recent launch of the Graded Benefit Disability Insurance Plan, an exclusive program designed to better serve the substandard-risk disability insurance marketplace for clients with less-than-perfect health histories. Prospects traditionally declined or limited by disability insurance carriers can now be covered without harsh medical exclusions at graded benefit levels predetermined by the client at the time of application. This new disability product allows for underwriting flexibility, to the extreme benefit of the consumer, seldom achieved in the market.

Prudential’s Individual Life Insurance business has enhanced its PruLife® Founders Plus (Founders Plus) and PruLife® Index Advantage UL (Advantage UL) products. New to Founders Plus, is the Plus 100 Account that credits interest based on 100 percent participation in the performance of the S&P 500® subject to a cap and floor, creating a broader range of interest crediting options that offer cash value growth potential in the policy. The Plus 100 Account complements the Plus 50 and Fixed Account options. “We enhanced Founders Plus in response to feedback asking for affordability and flexibility while allowing for a greater range of account options,” said Mark Hug, executive VP, product and marketing, Prudential Individual Life Insurance. “The flexible nature of Founders Plus allows consumers to increase or decrease premium payments based on their financial needs and the product’s performance.” The BenefitAccess Rider, currently available on Founders Plus, is now also available on Advantage UL. This optional rider allows for the acceleration of the death benefit due to a chronic or terminal illness and has been well received in the marketplace according to Hug.

Security Benefit Life Insurance Company (Security Benefit) announced the addition of 1-year and 2-year interest crediting options based on the BNP Paribas High Dividend Plus Index (HD Plus Index) for its Total Value Annuity (TVA). “The Total Value Annuity has, since its introduction in 2012, been a critical piece of an elite team of financial advisors’ toolkits by offering growth potential along with the ability to create a guaranteed stream of lifetime income, or to leave a legacy for others,” said Doug Wolff, Security Benefit’s president. “The addition of both 1 and 2-year interest crediting options based on the BNP Paribas High Dividend Plus Index further enhances one of the industry’s leading fixed index annuities and provides advisors with additional tools to secure successful retirement outcomes for their clients.” For more information about the Total Value Annuity, including the BNP Paribas High Dividend Plus Index and other innovative features, please call Security Benefit at 800-888-2461.

SunGard has launched a technology solution to help health payers identify and mitigate fraud, waste and abuse in health insurance claims in an effort to reduce the cost of patient care. By linking a selected Health Information Exchange (HIE) to the health plan’s databases or processing systems, SunGard’s iWorks HIE Connectivity solution provides health plans with real-time access to critical information within patients’ electronic health records (EHRs). This can help reduce length of stay, duplicative procedures and readmissions, fraud, abuse and costs while helping improve the speed, quality and safety of care, particularly for chronically ill patients. HIEs standardize data to allow healthcare professionals and patients to access and share a patient’s vital medical information electronically with the goal of facilitating coordinated patient care. The current lack of interoperability between health systems, whose providers’ use multiple electronic medical record (EMR) systems, and health plans is impeding information flow and access to complete data which can place physicians, hospitals and health plans at a significant disadvantage. Bridging the gap between EMR software can help healthcare organizations deliver better outcomes at a lower cost.

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AIG Financial Network announced that Edward A. Zabielski, Jr. (photo, right) is the organization’s leading sales agent for 2014. AIG Financial Network honored him at its recent Annual Leadership Conference.  Zabielski has been a financial advisor for over 35 years, servicing families, businesses, non-profits and NFL Players. He is a member of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), which provides NFL players with access to a diverse group of financial professionals. Zabielski, whose advisory practice is based in Middletown, Delaware, guides his clients through a wide range of complex financial decisions.  

The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, a 167-year-old company, announced that Jessica Choi joined the team as assistant vice president of talent acquisition and diversity. Choi is responsible for creating a strategy and driving the execution around Penn Mutual’s field talent acquisition process for the Career Agency Distribution. Jessica comes to Penn Mutual from AmerisourceBergen, one of the largest global pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution companies, where she served as the director of diversity & inclusion. Her responsibilities included the integration of global diversity & inclusion practices within the company’s business strategy. Prior to AmerisourceBergen, Jessica worked in various positions in diversity & inclusion, human resources, operations, sales, and other corporate functions at ARAMARK.

POWERS Insurance and Benefits, a family owned and operated independent insurance agency, has opened a satellite office at 17998 Chesterfield Airport Rd. in Chesterfield, Mo. The company’s headquarters are located at 7745 Carondelet Ave. in Clayton, Mo. The company has also hired four new associates to establish the West County presence, bringing the total number of employees to 24, which coincides with the company’s 24th anniversary. POWERS Insurance and Benefits provides personal and business insurance, surety, risk management and employee benefits.