The insurance industry has long been considered by some as archaic and lacking in modernization. But things are changing, and they have been for some time. The insurance industry, whether deservedly recognized or not, is an innovation juggernaut. From long-term care products to agent websites to original ideas in critical illness, there is evidence all around us that the landscape of insurance is changing.
The following is our second annual list of the year’s most innovative products and services that are helping drive the industry towards a bright future.
To see last year’s winners, click here.
Category: Life Insurance
The life insurance industry is filled with various products and policies offering certain special benefits (cash value, exclusive riders, accelerated benefits), but never has a life insurance product been so specific to fit such an important, modern need of half of the world’s demographic.
Promise Plus, a whole life product, has a cancer waiver of premium rider designed to waive premium payments in the event of a diagnosis of three specific types of cancer. The product, engineered by Royal Neighbors of America, was brought about because Royal Neighbors, one of the first and largest women-led life insurance organizations in the U.S., was looking for yet another way to enhance the quality of life for women and those they care about.
Here’s how it works: If a policyholder age 59 or younger is diagnosed with Stage II or greater breast, cervical or ovarian cancer, Royal Neighbors will waive life insurance premium payments for two years. The benefits kick into effect again should another type of covered cancer be found. The coverage is the first of its kind in the nation, according to Royal Neighbors.
“For over a century, our mission has been to empower women, whether it was earning the right to vote in the past or supporting the fight against female cancers in the present,” said Cynthia Tidwell, president and CEO of Royal Neighbors. “We anticipate Promise Plus will be a huge success, and will allow those receiving a cancer diagnosis to focus on getting well and spending time with loved ones rather than worry about their insurance premiums.”
The product was rolled out in February and with affordable rates. For example, a 35-year-old female with standard non-tobacco underwriting would pay $95.44 monthly to age 121 for $100,000 in whole life coverage. Adding the cancer rider increases this payment by only $0.76 to $96.20.
Promise Plus is Essential Whole Life Insurance (Form Series 1314) + Cancer Waiver of Premium Rider (Form Series 2084). Certificate and riders are not available in all states. Contractual provisions and limitations may vary by state. Subject to reinsurance and underwriting requirements.
In just over 10 years, income riders have taken the annuities world by storm, offering a solution to today’s ever-present longevity risk by providing a lifetime income stream.
Now, State Life Insurance Company, a OneAmerica company, is looking to trump that benefit by offering the first fixed-indexed annuity with a long-term care rider. Indexed Annuity Care offers built-in leverage for qualifying LTC expenses such as assisted living, home care, adult day care, respite, hospice and nursing home care. In addition, optional lifetime LTC insurance rider benefits can be added to the contract with premiums that are guaranteed never to increase.
The benefits continue. Indexed Annuity Care owners can also enjoy income tax-free withdrawals and benefits for qualifying LTC expenses thanks to provisions of the Pension Protection Act (if funded from after-tax premium sources, of course). One of the most innovative features, however, is that the product can provide benefits to two spouses from a single policy, making it attractive to the large number of current pre- and post-retirees.
“We work hard to prepare for retirement,” said Chris Coudret, executive vice president of State Life, adding that products such as this can help protect individuals’ quality of life and “remove the worry for how to pay for long-term care” — a rising worry indeed. “In the low interest rate environment, the indexed features are appealing. In addition, for producers that have focused primarily on indexed products, Indexed Annuity Care creates an opportunity for them to learn more about how to leverage the power of asset-based long term care products as part of their clients’ financial plans.”
Category: Employee Benefits
Some believe effective communication has always been an issue for technical-toned insurers. But as of March, Guardian Life Insurance Company of American showed it is out to change that.
The New York-based company announced the launch of Guardian Enrollment Maker (GEM), which offers resources to assist brokers in assessing their clients’ current enrollment method and provides strategies to transition them to online enrollment. GEM’s online resource center includes tools that help brokers better understand benefit communications strategies, which can drive employee participation, not to mention awareness and understanding.