Here are some of the things Prudential group benefits executives talked about Tuesday, at a press conference in New York....

(Photo: Douglas C. Pizac/AP)

1. The Benefits Calendar

Typical big employers set up their benefit plans for 2019 much earlier this year, but many are in the middle of, or about to start, their 2019 benefit plan enrollment periods.

(Photo: iStock)

2. Pricing

The supplemental health benefits market has been a magnet for insurers frightened by the effects of low interest rates, and regulatory uncertainty, on other markets.

In spite of all of the hungry new players, the overall pricing environment looks rational.

(Image: Thinkstock)

3. New Group Disability Claim Regulations

The U.S. Department of Labor let new Obama-era group disability claim determination standards take effect April 1.

So far, Prudential executives said, the most noticeable effect is that worries about complexity are pushing employers with self-insured disability plans to consider going with fully insured plans.

(Photo: Michael A. Scarcella/ALM)

4. Association Disability Plans

Easier new rules for multi-employer, multi-state plans are big news in the group health market — but not in the disability market. Prudential has had association disability plans in place for years.

The association disability plans are doing fine, and growing a bit, executives said.

(Photo: Thinkstock)


5. Return to Work

Prudential executives see more employer interest in helping older workers who are out on disability come back to work.

Employers have noticed that some of those older workers have skills, and knowledge, that are hard to replace.

(Photo: Thinkstock)

(Related: 5 Benefits Trends on Prudential’s Radar Now)

Prudential Financial Inc. has come up with a strategy for increasing America’s overall level of insurance, employee benefits and financial wellness awareness: It’s been inviting reporters to a series of quarterly press conferences in New York.

The latest press conference, held Tuesday, attracted reporters from organizations like Bloomberg and CNBC, as well as from publications aimed at financial services professionals.

Prudential sells retirement services, group life, group disability and supplemental health benefits products, such as hospital indemnity insurance, but not group health insurance or employer health plan stop-loss coverage. The company’s earlier press conference focused on topics such as overall financial wellness and the state of the retirement services market.

For the latest session, Prudential brought out members of the group benefits management team: Jamie Kalamarides, president of Prudential Group Insurance; Jessica Gillespie, head of national accounts for group insurance; Jessica Vanscavish, the vice president for voluntary benefits; and Terrie Sorensen, the vice president for absence and short-term disability product management.

For agents, brokers and financial advisors, one takeaway is that financial wellness-oriented benefits communication efforts are still hot. ”When people are focused on financial wellness, their engagement improves and their overall results improve,” Kalamarides said.

Another takeaway is that Prudential’s client employers are asking for help with managing the aging of the workforce.

For financial services professionals in the individual market, those trends could translate into:

  • More competition from Prudential, and other players, that are active in the voluntary benefits market.
  • New opportunities to approach workers who have heard a little bit, but not enough, about insurance products and concepts at the workplace.
  • More clients ages 60 to 85 who are still working for wages.

For more of what came up at the press conference, see the idea cards in the slideshow above.

— Read Sweeping Federal Disability Claim Regulations Take Effect Sundayon ThinkAdvisor.

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