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The 10 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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Benefitfocus, Inc. (NASDAQ: BNFT), a provider of cloud-based benefits software solutions, has partnered with HealthTap to make it easier for employers, carriers, brokers and consumers to add virtual health care services to their benefits packages. BENEFITFOCUS® Platform users will be able to select HealthTap on the same platform that they use to enroll in their traditional benefits via a Benefitfocus voluntary benefit exchange and consultation solution – Benefitstore. Benefitfocus announced the addition of Benefitstore to BENEFITFOCUS® Marketplace at its One Place 2015 conference in March, and designed Benefitstore to help make it easier to integrate supplemental benefits options into comprehensive plans with the support of a dedicated voluntary benefits team.

HealthTap is a digital health hub that provides millions of people everywhere with 24/7 immediate access to personalized, doctor-curated medical knowledge and high-quality care.

Insurance agents and financial advisors now have all the benefits of a full-service marketing team at their fingertips, for a fraction of the cost. The nonprofit organization Life Happens announced the launch of Life Happens ProSM, a new self-service, online solution that offers insurance agents and financial advisors a simple and cost-effective way to access, embed and distribute best-in-class insurance marketing resources to empower their business. For the first time, agents and advisors have the ability to use Life Happens’ full suite of educational insurance content, along with some brand-new features. They can now personalize digital flyers and brochures with their own contact information and company branding, as well as download, email, share and embed digital content such as videos, social-media assets, online calculators and others tools to support their own marketing and client outreach efforts, directly from a secure website. Life Happens Pro is currently available for a 30-day free trial period here.

Sarah Bernard, a pop culture diva, is omnipresent on talk show TV. There is nothing she is afraid to tackle, from Hugh Grant’s tabloid troubles to busting beauty myths with Hoda and Kourtney on the Today Show. Now, Bernard is taking on perhaps her greatest challenge: moderating a panel of financial experts who answer questions about retirement savings from participants in MassMutual’s 401(k) and other retirement savings plans. It’s part of a new program, MassMutual RetireSMARTFAQSM, where retirement plan savers can submit questions about retirement planning topics during educational webinars or online at The questions are then answered by personal finance and other financial experts. MassMutual annually hosts a series of educational webinars on retirement planning that typically attract thousands of retirement plan participants. One in five webinar attendees on average increase their contributions to their retirement savings plan and scores ask questions about retirement savings and planning, according to MassMutual’s 2014 retirement plan participant surveys. Anyone can watch a recording of the webinar at

PlanSource® Inc., a provider of cloud-based health exchange and benefits engagement technology, announced that it has added MetLife®, a global provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management, to its distribution platform for employee benefits. PlanSource now distributes MetLife’s portfolio of products through its highly-configurable benefits engagement system, which can be administered by employers or configured as a public or private exchange using PlanSource OneMarket. Launched in 2014, PlanSource OneMarket provides standard benefit products and services from leading insurance companies in a marketplace where employees can shop for benefits in the same consumer- friendly way they shop for other products online.

The Holistic Advisor Academy is a 1.5-day educational event designed for advisors who want to grow, automate and enhance their advisory firm to provide holistic service to their clients, but who lack the turnkey processes and systems to get their business to the next level. Processes are most applicable for advisors with more than five years of experience in the insurance and/or financial advisory industry earning $250,000 or more per year in gross revenue. The event will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, at The Ritz Carlton, August 12 – 13. For more information about Holistic Advisor Academy and to register for this event, please visit

LifeMark Partners, Inc., an independent national insurance marketing organization, announced Christopher Greis, CLU, a founding partner and former board member of LifeMark Partners, and Victoria Van Dusen-Roos, a principal vice president and head of operations at Diversified Brokerage Services (DBS), have been added to the board of directors. As a veteran in the industry, Christopher Greis, CLU, is also the president and founder of Leaders Partners, Inc. in North Barrington, Illinois, a service and distribution company for life insurance professionals and financial advisors. Prior to forming Leaders Partners, Greis spent twelve years in underwriting and marketing capacities and twenty years as a brokerage general agent in two prior businesses, both of which he founded. He previously served on the LifeMark Partners board from 1994-1998. Greis holds memberships in major industry trade organizations including, the LIFE, Inc. and Risk Appraisal Forum study groups. Greis also currently serves on the field advisory councils of Legal and General America, Transamerica and Mutual of Omaha.

Victoria “Tori” Van Dusen-Roos, along with her brother, is the second generation to lead her family business, Diversified Brokerage Services (DBS). DBS is a life brokerage general agency providing brokers, agents, and financial planners with the highest level of service and one of the most comprehensive selections of life, annuity, disability income and long-term care products available. Not only is Van Dusen-Roos a principal, vice president and head of operations, she is also responsible for the oversight of new business, internal marketing associates and all support and services. She is also a registered principal for the agency. Currently, she sits on the advisory council for a few different insurance companies, The Leaders Group and a broker dealer. She also serves on the NAILBA online education committee and is a past president of LIFE, Inc. LifeMark Partners, Inc. works to help its Partner Agencies enhance distribution and grow production through turnkey marketing and sales support strategies.

Partners Advantage Insurance Services, LLC is pleased to announce the appointment of Charlie Gipple as senior vice president of sales and marketing. Gipple will manage all sales, marketing, recruiting, agent training and sales support activities across all company segments, which include the Platinum, Premier and Advantage divisions. Partners Advantage is a national marketing organization serving the life, annuity and linked benefit needs of agencies throughout the country. Most recently, Gipple served as the national director of index products at Genworth. Prior to joining Genworth in 2012, he was a vice president at ING for 11 years leading a number of diverse product lines and distribution channels. He has worked in client sales, account management and product development, as well as the wholesaling of life insurance, annuity and mutual fund products.  He has extensive experience working with Independent Marketing Organizations (IMO), Brokerage General Agencies (BGA), broker dealers and banks. 

In addition to his leadership experience, Gipple is well-recognized in the annuity and life insurance industry as a speaker and has extensive experience with index products, financial markets, financial legislation, behavioral finance and the positioning of insurance products. His articles have been featured in numerous industry publications and he has appeared on and AM Best TV.

Renaissance, an ancillary insurance carrier of customizable dental and vision plans, is expanding coverage for group employers across South Carolina. Ancillary insurance expert Dan Pruitt has been added to the South Carolina team and will serve as senior account executive for the state. Pruitt brings nearly 30 years of experience representing insurance companies in all areas of employee benefits, 20 years of which were focused on selling dental and vision products throughout South Carolina and the southeast states. His background includes experience as a broker, general agent and third-party administrator. Pruitt will be responsible for working with group employers in South Carolina. His focus will center on the adaptable and expansive network of Renaissance ancillary insurance products that promote oral and overall health and wellness. Pruitt will leverage his deep experience in voluntary benefits to call on brokers who sell products to South Carolina’s residents and employers.

Standard Life Investments, a global investment manager, has added to its fixed income capabilities with the appointment of Thomas J. Coleman as North America senior investment specialist. Tom will advance the growth of Standard Life Investments’ global fixed income solutions. He will work closely with the asset class management teams and with the consultant relations, sales and client relationships teams. Tom will be based in Standard Life Investments’ expanding North American headquarters in Boston. This is a new position at the company. Previously, Tom was fixed income investment director, vice president at Wellington Management Company, LLP, where he focused on U.S. fixed income strategies. He has been in the investment business for over 27 years.


Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), announced that it has appointed David Wilken (photo, right) as president of the company’s Individual Life business, effective immediately. In this role, Wilken will be responsible for the implementation and execution of a refined vision and strategy for the business, which supports Voya’s broader focus on helping customers as they plan, invest and protect their savings for retirement. He will have overall responsibility for the strategy of the Individual Life business, and will directly manage product teams, distribution and sales, business development and underwriting. He will also join Voya’s Operating Committee.

In his most recent role as head of Individual Life Distribution, Wilken was responsible for the leadership and management of all Individual Life sales distribution channels with a focus on growth in the accumulation and indexed market segments. He previously served as head of the company’s independent Life sales channel and in various accounting and finance positions for the Life and Annuity businesses. 


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