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The 8 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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Beacon Capital Management is offering advisors who currently work with Curian Capital Advisors and are seeking an alternative RIA partner a new home. Beacon is a next-generation money manager that utilizes mechanical investment strategies to build and manage portfolios designed to capture market gains while attempting to minimize losses. With Curian’s recent announcement of plans to exit the business by Q1 2016, Beacon can provide a turnkey solution for the soon-to-be-displaced advisors.

“Beacon is uniquely equipped to handle these transitioning advisors as we have worked extensively with advisors who have switched from Curian to Beacon in the past, with our team having created and mastered a smooth transition process for all involved,” said Chris Cook, founder and CEO of Beacon Capital Management.

GoHealth, a private health insurance exchange for individuals and families, announced a strategic partnership with ADP®, a global provider of Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions. As a result, GoHealth will play an integral part in the new technology enabled ADP Private Exchange, a technology-based private exchange that is integrated with workforce management systems. The goal of this partnership is to help employers update their health benefits packages in the era of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – maximizing cost savings and adapting to compliance requirements while providing value to employees. Together, ADP and GoHealth will offer a solution for the growing number of employers interested in non-group health benefits solutions, which can help reduce high health care costs.

The Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company, Inc.® (GIAC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), introduced enhancements to its website to improve the administration, management and utilization of workplace defined contribution plans for small businesses. The enhanced introduces several new features designed to improve the overall experience for financial professionals, plan sponsors, third party administrators (TPAs) and participants, including a dashboard with easy access to key retirement plan health statistics, enhanced reporting options, intuitive navigation and a resource library. These features will provide education and guidance to positively influence how plan participants engage with their retirement plans. This is particularly important as 401(k)s and other defined contribution plans are the largest anticipated source of retirement income for plan participants.

LIMRA and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) announced the formation of a research partnership, formalizing the ongoing relationship between the two organizations. “For more than 20 years, LIMRA and the SOA have been collaborating on policy holder behavior experience studies for the industry,” said Robert A. Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global. “Companies rely on persistency and utilization research to better understand consumer behavior.  The data help companies develop and price products more effectively and respond to potential regulatory requirements.  Through this strategic partnership, we plan to expand the valuable research and insight we provide to the industry in the United States and around the world.”

Since 1995, LIMRA and the SOA have been providing the life insurance industry with policyholder behavior experience research. Specifically, LIMRA and SOA have studied individual life insurance and annuity surrender/lapse activity, annuity GLB utilization activity, and lapse activity for individual disability and long term care insurance. 

Petersen International Underwriters of Valencia, CA, reported that they have received the exclusive rights to offer the only 10 year policy term product in the excess/supplemental disability insurance market. Working with a highly-rated European insurance company, Petersen International has developed a personal income-protection disability product that is guaranteed and non-cancellable for 10 years, which is double the maximum 5 year term length found in the rest of the market. Petersen International Underwriters specializes in unique disability insurance programs for individuals, small businesses and large corporations. 

Sentry Life Insurance Company and the National Association of Insurance Marketers (NAIM) announced a joint marketing agreement to offer Commit to Quit, a new term life insurance product designed specifically for cigarette smokers who want to live smoke-free. “Commit to Quit’s premiums are lower than those of most policies for tobacco users, but that’s only part of what makes it different,” says Steve Knez, senior director of individual life and annuities at Sentry Insurance. “It is structured to provide real incentives to quit smoking.”The premiums of traditional smokers’ policies are typically more than twice those of non-smoker premiums. Commit to Quit offers level premiums that can be 20 percent or more below premiums offered by other life policies rated for tobacco use. Commit to Quit achieves these lower premiums by reducing the death benefit in later years if the insured continues to smoke. However, if the insured quits tobacco entirely, no benefit decrease occurs.

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) has named Barbara Bufkin, executive vice president of Business Development for Hamilton USA, the U.S. operations of Hamilton Insurance Group, to its board of governors. Bufkin joins 22 other senior insurance industry executives on IICF’s most prestigious Board. Bufkin was recently awarded the esteemed Inclusion Champion Award by IICF during its 2015 Women in Insurance Global Conference in New York. The award recognizes insurance leaders who are mentors and sponsors to women in the industry.

Bufkin joined Hamilton USA in 2014 as executive vice president of business development. Prior to this, she was chief operating officer of global strategic advisory for Guy Carpenter & Company, LLC, where she worked in an aligned strategy with the advisory, broking and analytics services of the firm. Before this, she held positions with Argo International Holdings and with Swiss Re New Markets. A full list of the IICF Board of Governors can be found here.

Unum (NYSE:UNM) has promoted Vicki J. Gordan to senior vice president and chief internal auditor. The role was previously held by Matt Royal, who was promoted to chief risk officer for Unum Group in July. Gordan has had a varied career with Unum that spans more than three decades. Her experience includes leadership roles in investments, strategy and development, products, rating and proposals, underwriting and benefits. In her most recent role, she was responsible for business development in the U.S. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Bates College, a law degree from University of Maine and an MBA from the University of New Hampshire.


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