Group insurance needs personalized approach

By Alain Castonguay | August 18 2014 09:00AM

The group insurance industry is facing several challenges, Isabelle Hudon says. Each challenge features a paradox that insurers must resolve to make an accurate diagnosis, the president of Sun Life Financial, Quebec explained during a speech, which opened the 16th Solareh Seminar in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec in late May.The group insurance world is being buffeted by many rapid changes. Important elements of the traditional service offering are being called into question as a wave of innovations sweeps through the market. “Group insurance is feeling the direct influence of two major trends that, taken together, are radically changing our approaches and even our products,” she adds.

The first of these trends is the advancement of information technologies. They are taking interaction with plan users to an unprecedented level. Participants can now communicate with their insurer via different platforms, to obtain information and submit applications and claims.

“These technologies also help educate customers, raise awareness and adapt participants’ coverage in real time. They can also track personal use of a group plan. Each participant can access tools that will answer their questions in detail and meet their individual needs,” she continues.

This finding is linked to the second broad trend Hudon observed. While these new tools foster interaction between members and plan managers, they also raise expectations. Customers rightly think that their plan can be adapted, adjusted and shaped according to their characteristics and personal needs.

“These growing expectations are also putting pressure on our suppliers. We must innovate if we want to remain relevant on the market,” she explains.

Insurers’ clients, from members to plan sponsors, expect increasing personalization of group insurance products offered. Employers also want to offer plans that differentiate them from the competition.

This diversity may spawn complexity, but it is inevitable, she points out. Insurers may try to make product information easier to understand, but in the end, their offer consists of sophisticated financial products.

“You have to learn to manage complexity but also to multiply the means to support employees at the right time and in the right way, in order to navigate this complex universe and find options that meet their expectations,” Hudon says.