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The 12 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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The Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) released an alternative proposal to the DoL’s proposed Fiduciary rule and called for a uniform client “best interest standard” for all financial advice for consumers. “We all agree that existing laws should be adjusted to clarify that a ‘best interest’ standard always applies, and it should not take several hundred pages of complex regulations and miles of red tape to accomplish this common-sense, agreed-upon goal. A simpler, more coordinated approach is needed,” said Tim Pawlenty, CEO of FSR. “Any financial professional who violates their client’s best interest should not be in businesses and regulators should vigorously hold those bad actors accountable.” FSR supports implementing a coordinated, uniform “best interest standard” for all financial advice, a standard that nearly every financial professional already abides by.  FSR’s proposal would apply across the board — under ERISA, rules adopted by the SEC, FINRA and others and directly responds to the DoL’s proposal by incorporating an already existing exemption under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  FSR’s proposal could be considered simultaneously by all regulators, including the DoL. FSR Released a one-pager outlining five points in an alternative proposal, which can be found here.

Hearsay Social, provider of the Predictive Social Suite for financial advisors and insurance agents, announced the launch of the new Universal Supervision experience for social media and website content, designed to make it easier and faster for financial services companies to enforce compliance policies. The new universal review system and interface are now available to all supervision and compliance users of Hearsay Social. The Universal Supervision experience makes the process of monitoring and reviewing advisor social media and website activity more efficient by streamlining common workflows and surfacing contextual information critical to a supervisor’s day-to-day activities.

The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company (Penn Mutual) announced the release and immediate availability of their latest permanent life insurance product. Accumulation Builder AdvantageSM Indexed Universal Life (IUL) is part of Penn Mutual’s strong and highly competitive life insurance product portfolio that meets the varying needs of prospective clients and policyholders across the nation. The new product features death benefit protection and opportunities to accumulate cash value through a choice of four indexed accounts and a fixed account option. It also rewards policyholders for their loyalty with a 0.75 percent Guaranteed Policy Value Enhancement (“Guaranteed Bonus”). For more information, go to the Penn Mutual website.

Burnham Benefits Insurance Services, a California-based employee benefits brokerage firms, announced its recent Benefit Corporation (B Corp) certification. The designation awarded by B Lab, a nonprofit that serves a global movement of entrepreneurs using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems, is reserved for companies who reflect not just the desire to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. Similar to a building with a LEED certification or coffee with the Fair Trade stamp of approval, B Corp certification is the insignia of a company that adheres to the highest level of standards and corporate purpose. Using responses from B Lab’s B Impact Assessment, which is created by the Standards Advisory Board Council and provides benchmarks and tools to help businesses improve their impact over time, Burnham scored among the top 10 percent of businesses who meet rigorous standards of community engagement and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Burnham joins the ranks of a growing consortium of more than 1,250 Certified B Corps from more than 120 industries in 40 countries throughout the world, working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

The Hartford and Major League Baseball (MLB) announced a multi-year sponsorship that will make The Hartford an “Official Sponsor of Major League Baseball” and the exclusive business insurance, homeowners insurance and employee benefits partner of MLB. The sponsorship includes the presenting sponsorship of the Reliever of the Year Awards and a partnership with legendary closer Mariano Rivera. The Hartford will be the presenting sponsor of the American and National League Reliever of the Year Awards, named after MLB greats Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. Given out at the end of the regular season, this award recognizes the most outstanding relief pitchers of the season in each league. Hoffman will also appear in the company’s advertising. In addition to its MLB sponsorship, The Hartford will also sponsor five MLB teams this year – Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers – and will expand to more teams in 2016. The company will bring the program to life locally with clinics and engagement events.

In response to the need for health insurance plans in the U.S. to drive down the overall cost of care while improving quality and transparency, SunGard has launched new capabilities for health plans, including outsourcing options for end-to-end claims processing support and business intelligence (BI) dashboards for improved workflow. With multiple competing priorities, insurance executives are seeking new ways to improve quality and transparency, reduce operating expenses, and free up valuable human and capital resources to focus on more strategic business initiatives. Delivering a complete end-to-end ­Business-Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS) solution for claims processing, SunGard provides mail house, scanning, data entry and secure document destruction. In addition, SunGard has launched business intelligence dashboards for its Macess workflow solution, which integrates, automates and streamlines complex processes. These dashboards help executives make more informed business decisions and act quickly on the data they have by analyzing trends in claims, enrollment and other areas. SunGard also recently launched a Health Information Exchange (HIE) Connectivity solution to help insurers improve care management, providing near real-time alerts of hospital discharges and transfers among high risk patients. In 2014, SunGard released its CMS Audit Support service to help insurers avoid and/or respond to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) inquiries.

The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) announced the appointment of Terri L. Rhodes as chief executive officer. Rhodes had previously served as DMEC’s vice president and executive director, where she increased the association’s membership and conference attendance and established DMEC’s leading voice on absence-related regulatory issues. DMEC’s Annual Absence, Disability and RTW an FMLA/ADAAA Employer Compliance Conferences have become an invaluable event for employers, industry experts, providers, attorneys, policymakers and others seeking the latest information, best practices, and insights on employee leave and disability laws and regulations. Prior to rejoining DMEC, Rhodes was an absence and disability management consultant for Mercer, delivering strategic absence and disability management solutions to clients of all sizes; director of absence and disability for Health Net and Corporate IDM program manager for Abbott Laboratories. Rhodes holds an MBA (Business Management) from Columbus University, and the designations of Certified Professional in Disability Management (CPDM) and Certified Case Management Professional (CCMP) from the Insurance Educational Association.

MassMutual has appointed Michele Baldasarre as vice president of institutional markets to lead relationship management for the firm’s large retirement plan sponsors. Baldasarre leads a team of 30 relationship managers who support large retirement plan sponsors and their participants. Institutional clients include corporations, government entities such as states, counties and municipalities, Taft-Hartley or labor unions, and not-for-profit organizations. The institutional unit is part of a larger team of more than 100 relationship managers responsible for helping employers make the most of their 401(k), 457 and 403(b) defined contribution retirement plans as well as defined benefit plans for employees. The relationship managers work with employer’s decision-makers, investment advisors and consultants, TPAs, attorneys and accountants to help employers manage their plans as effectively as possible.

The annual “U.S. Voluntary/Worksite Sales Report,” produced by Eastbridge Consulting Group, has identified Transamerica Employee Benefits (TEB) as the 2014 Voluntary Sales Growth Leader in the large company category. Transamerica has achieved solid and consistent growth from 2011 to 2014, including year-over-year increases of 40 percent, 14 percent, 15 percent and 28 percent respectively. Total industry voluntary sales were $6.89 billion in 2014, an increase of 3.7 percent over 2013.Carriers participating in Eastbridge’s annual reportwith a minimum of $10 million in annual sales are eligible to be considered for the Voluntary Sales Growth Leader recognition. A company must also have exceeded the growth rate of the industry overall for each of the last three years and lead in sales growth for the current year. Awards are given for both large companies and small companies. The small company category includes companies with sales as measured by New Business Annualized Premium (NBAP) of over $10 million but under $75 million. Large companies are those with NBAP of $75 million or more.


Valley Insurance Agency Alliance (VIAA), a cohesive family of nearly 100 independent insurance agencies in Missouri and Southern Illinois, recently celebrated its ninth anniversary in business. Founded in 2006, VIAA generates more than $125 million in written premium and is the regional founding member in Missouri and Southern Illinois for the Strategic Insurance Agency Alliance (SIAA), a $5.7 billion national insurance coalition. SIAA, a partnership of independent insurance agencies, consists of the highest caliber of firms that share a leveraged strength with their carrier partners and industry resources. VIAA is the sister company of family owned and operated POWERS Insurance and Benefits, which is one of the largest family owned and operated independent insurance agencies in the bi-state region.  VIAA is located at 7745 Carondelet Ave. in Clayton, Mo.

Voya Financial Advisors has expanded its advisory services and product teams with two key new hires. These newly-created positions support the broker-dealer’s growth progress and plans, with advisory business reaching $9.92 billion in 2014 up 25 percent from the previous year. In addition, recruiting this year has increased 42 percent through May 31 compared to last year. With plans to launch a hybrid RIA model this summer, the growth momentum is expected to continue. To support Voya’s advisory business growth, Craig Mesick joined Voya as vice president of advisory business development. Mesick is focused on delivering a full range of in-person advisory support to provide valuable services to advisors, drive increased advisory business, and support the launch of a RIA hybrid model this summer. In particular, Mesick will focus on guiding advisors on their sales, product and practice management efforts. Mesick joined Voya Financial Advisors from Janney Montgomery Scott, where he focused on advisory platforms and helping advisors transition to a fee-based model. On the other hand, hired as the new head of product strategy, Brian Emde will focus on enhancing the broker-dealer’s product tools and technology to drive greater efficiency in advisors’ financial practices. In his new role, Emde will drive simplification and integration of Voya’s product platforms. Joining Voya from Cetera Financial Group, Emde brings extensive industry knowledge of independent broker-dealer platform integrations. 

patrick moylan

Zurich Insurance announced the promotion of Patrick Moylan to Head of Healthcare Professional Liability for Zurich North America. Moylan will be based in Zurich’s New York office. Moylan began his tenure at Zurich in 2014 as the East Region Manager for the Healthcare Professional Liability team. During his time at Zurich, Moylan coached and developed the region’s underwriters, where he fostered a customer-focused, market-facing culture. Moylan also oversaw the execution of Zurich’s distribution strategy, led cross-sell initiatives across product lines, and has been a significant contributor in the planning of Zurich’s medical facilities expansion strategy. Before joining Zurich, he was a senior associate with Dubraski & Associates, and also held positions at Brown and Brown & Marsh. Moylan’s education includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Yale, and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.