Thursday, 03/09/23

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POLICY BRIEFS / Flexible Benefits for a Flexible Workforce: Unleashing Portable Benefits Solutions for Independent Workers and the Gig Economy
Liya Palagashvili / MERCATUS CENTER, George Mason University / February 3, 2023 / / Read Article

Even as more and more Americans are choosing these flexible forms of work, laws written almost one hundred years ago prohibit and discourage common workplace benefits from flowing to these workers. This is because our labor polices offer two primary paths of work. The first is through traditional employment, which comes with traditional benefits but often without the independence and flexibility that many workers desire or may require for personal reasons. The second is through independent work (legally classified as independent contracting), which provides flexibility and independence but without the common workplace benefits.

To address the challenges of independent work, there are two buckets of policy solutions:

Bucket 1: Reclassification. Policies that reclassify workers as employees instead of independent contractors.

Bucket 2: Access to Portable Benefits. Policies that allow independent workers to maintain their nontraditional work arrangements and improve their access to flexible benefits.

Currently, policymakers and regulators are only pursuing bucket 1 solutions. This is evident from the Department of Labor’s (DOL) back-and-forth changes in regulatory guidance on worker classification rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Most recently, on October 13, 2022, the DOL proposed a new rule that narrows the definition of “independent contractor.” Similarly, California passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) in 2019, creating a stricter test that significantly limited the circumstances for being an independent contractor. As intended, AB5 made it more difficult for workers to be classified as independent contractors.

Pendella and National Benefit Partners (NBP) Announce Strategic Partnership to Bring Individual Life Insurance Benefits to Employees
MAR 6, 2023 / / / Read Article

Today, Pendella Technologies has announced that its white-label life insurance offerings are now available through NBP's InsureMEtoday platform. With this move, thousands of employees and their families will have the option to purchase individual life insurance coverage in addition to their employer-provided group coverage policies.

As of this writing, about 50 percent of U.S. households have no individual life insurance coverage and many more are underinsured. This severe coverage gap is due in large part to a lack of awareness of the benefits of individual insurance. Many people don't realize that their employer-provided group coverage policies typically provide inadequate protection in case of a life-altering event. These group coverage policies also don't allow for much customization and, worst of all, don't transfer when an employee switches jobs.

By partnering with NBP through its Allied Distributor program, Pendella hopes to raise awareness about the need for individual life insurance, while also making it more convenient for employees to sign up for the sort of comprehensive policies that they need. Once signed up, employees are free to choose a customized life insurance option based on their needs and budget, coverage that will stay with them even if they leave their current employers.

Candidly picks up student debt relief where new US policies leave off
Christine Hall/ TechCrunch / March 7, 2023 / / Read Article

There has been a now three-year pause on federal student loan payments due to the global pandemic, and it’s widely known that nearly 47 million student loan borrowers owe around $1.8 trillion.

That, combined with the fact that a majority of Americans don’t have $500 to cover unexpected expenses, has provided an “in” for fintech companies to develop numerous technology approaches to solving the student debt problem.

While some fintech companies have taken the borrower approach, others are looking at it from an employee benefit perspective and attracting interest from venture capital investors. Those include Goodly, Highway Benefits, which announced $3.1 million in seed funding last week, and Candidly, which announced $20.5 million in Series B funding today.

Candidly, previously known as FutureFuel, partners with entities, including employers, financial institutions, retirement and wealth management firms, to embed artificial intelligence-driven student debt and savings optimization products into employee benefits engines.

“We exist to crush debt, and to empower hard-working Americans to go beyond student debt, into wellness, and ultimately wealth,” said Laurel Taylor, founder and CEO of Candidly, in an interview. “More specifically, most who have student debt are focused on achieving freedom from debt at the expense of building wealth. Our mission and our capabilities enable users to make simultaneous progress so that we don’t have to choose between our past and our future when it comes to financial health and wellness.”

More younger employees use workplace mental wellness benefits, say they are “very important”
Securian Financial study sheds light on how generations view mental health and how employers can better meet their needs
Darin Reeser, Securian Financial regional director for supplemental health benefits / March 06, 2023 / BUSINESS WIRE / / Read Article

Fully 73% of Generation Z employees and 74% of Millennial employees have utilized mental health benefits offered by their employers, while 58% of Generation X employees and 49% of Baby Boomer employees have used the benefits.

Additionally, while 65% of Generation Z and 60% of Millennial workers say it’s “very important” for their employers to provide mental wellness benefits, just 49% of Generation X and 45% of Baby Boomer workers say the same.

These are only two of the key findings from a study exploring barriers and perceived stigmas that prevent employees from seeking and using workplace mental wellness benefits.

Securian Financial, a leading provider of group life and supplemental health insurance benefits, conducted a survey of 2,500 employees of American organizations between August 30 and September 9, 2022. Survey respondents reflect the age distribution of the current workforce1 and the mix of ethnicities in the general population.

“Addressing mental wellness in the workplace has never been more crucial. With burnout and the Great Resignation still in our midst, better understanding employee needs, expectations and concerns around mental wellness is pivotal,” said Darin Reeser, a Securian Financial regional director for supplemental health benefits.


#1: Generations view mental health differently
#2: The most common and most used mental wellness benefits
#3: Financial and mental wellness are interconnected

LIMRA: Record Annuity Sales in 2022 Expected to Continue Into First Quarter 2023
LIMRA / 3/8/2023 / / Read Article

Facing unprecedented long-term market volatility in 2022, consumers sought the protection offered by fixed annuities, propelling a record-high $312.8 billion in total U.S. annuity sales. According to LIMRA’s 2022 Individual Annuity Sales Survey, total 2022 annuity sales increased 23% over 2021 results and were 18% higher than the previous record of $265 billion set in 2008.

key-takeaway-4Q-final.JPG“The interest rate dip in December spurred investor demand looking to lock in the favorable rates before they dropped further,” said Todd Giesing, assistant vice president, LIMRA Annuity Research. “As a result, total fourth quarter annuity sales marked a new record of $89.4 billion, a 42% increase from the fourth quarter of 2021. LIMRA data show there was an 80% year-over-year increase in pending total annuity contracts in January 2023. LIMRA expects the sales momentum experienced in 2022 to continue and is forecasting a record-breaking first quarter 2023.”

In the fourth quarter, bank sales more than doubled (117%) to $21.8 billion. In 2022, bank sales were a record $73.7 billion, 69% higher than in 2021. This is the first time banks have led total annuity sales since 2004, accounting for 24% of the U.S. annuity market in 2022.

The 7 Best Examples Of How ChatGPT Can Be Used In Human Resources (HR)
Bernard Marr, Contributor / Forbes / Mar 7, 2023 / / Read Article

Human Resources (HR) departments play a critical role in managing an organization's most valuable asset — its people. From recruiting new talent to managing employee benefits and compensation, HR teams are responsible for ensuring a company's workforce is engaged, productive, and motivated.

HR departments can now leverage AI tools like ChatGPT to streamline their processes and achieve greater efficiency. ChatGPT can be a powerful tool for HR professionals in a variety of ways, including automating repetitive tasks, providing real-time support to employees, and enhancing the overall employee experience.

Let’s dive into some specific use cases for ChatGPT in human resources and talk about the benefits these types of language models can bring to HR departments and organizations as a whole.

1. Recruitment
2. Employee Onboarding
3. Training
4. Performance Management
5. HR Chatbots
6. Employee Engagement
7. Compliance

Alegeus and Navia Strengthen Partnership to Deliver Best-in-Class Benefit Experiences for Employers and Employees
March 07, 2023 / BUSINESS WIRE / / Read Article

Alegeus, the market leader in healthcare payment solutions, today announced an expanded partnership with Navia, a leading national, consumer-directed benefits provider, to drive better experiences for individuals navigating rising medical costs.

With more than 25 years of growth and innovation, Alegeus is the market leader in SaaS-based benefit funding and payment solutions. Our highly flexible, white-label platform powers account-based benefit programs such as HSAs, FSAs, HRAs, COBRA, wellness incentives, lifestyle benefits and beyond. We deliver exceptional user experiences and differentiate capabilities that help our partners strengthen their product offerings, operate more efficiently, and unlock their full growth potential. Our partnerships with the industry’s leading health plans, third-party administrators, financial services and benefit solution providers give Alegeus unparalleled reach in the market, with access to more than 100 million commercially insured Americans. Alegeus is headquartered in Waltham, Mass., with operations centers in Orlando and Bangalore, and a large remote workforce.

Reliance Matrix Launches Matrixlink®, Modernizing Data Integration With HR Technology Across Absence and Employee Benefits
March 07, 2023 / BUSINESS WIRE / / Read Article

Reliance Matrix, an employee benefits company and provider of technology enabled absence and productivity services, has announced the launch of Matrixlink®, a purpose-built data integration product established to seamlessly connect absence and employee benefits data with employers’ Human Capital Management (HCM) systems.

Reliance Matrix delivers employee benefit, absence management and workforce productivity solutions through the financial stability of a top-rated insurance carrier, the proven innovation of an absence TPA, and the daily commitment of thousands of team members across America. Where larger competitors offer size, we inspire confidence and long-term engagement through integration, reliability, and dedication to providing customized solutions.

MetLife Worldwide Benefits Launches New Program to Help Globally-Mobile Employees Understand their Benefits
March 07, 2023 / BUSINESS WIRE / / Read Article

MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET) today announced an enhancement to the onboarding process for MetLife Worldwide Benefits members that offers globally-mobile employees a personalized benefits communication experience throughout the first year of their assignment. According to MetLife’s Annual 2022 Expat Employee Benefit Trends Study, 65 percent of globally-mobile employees are looking for more relevant benefits information. The new program was designed to give them the information they need when embarking on a new assignment.

The member welcome journey includes a series of customized informational email communications that target each employee’s unique needs and are delivered when a member hits certain milestones in their assignment. With candid, straightforward messaging grounded in insights, the seamless experience equips globally-mobile employees to make confident, informed decisions and understand all their MetLife benefits and resources.

Senior Solutions & Services Joins Integrity for Access to Innovative Agent and Consumer-Focused Platform
Integrity Marketing Group, LLC / March 8, 2023 / / Read Article

Integrity Marketing Group, LLC (“Integrity”), a leading distributor of life and health insurance, and provider of wealth management and retirement planning solutions, today announced it has acquired Senior Solutions & Services, an independent marketing organization (“IMO”) based in Chesterfield, Virginia. As part of the acquisition, Traci and Earle Spencer III, Managing Partners at Senior Solutions & Services, will become Managing Partners in Integrity. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Can an employer offer different benefits plans based on employment-based classifications? Ask HR
Johnny C. Taylor Jr. / Special to USA TODAY / 03/07/2023 / / Read Article

Question: Can an employer have one paid time off and insurance policy for employees with fewer than 25 years of service and a different paid time off and insurance policy for employees with more than 25 years of service? – Vicky

Answer: Employers can offer different paid time off plans and distinct insurance policies for employee groupings based on an employment-based classification such as tenure or length of service. However, they cannot establish eligibility for benefits on protected categories under federal and state anti-discrimination laws like age, sex, race, or religion. It is common practice to distinguish benefits by other job-related classifications such as full- or part-time status, exempt/nonexempt status, job group, geographic location, or even by department.

Tuesday, 03/07/23 - - Can’t Give Employees Raises? Add Benefits

Wednesday, 03/08/23 - Benefits of employee retention credit for employers

Thursday, 03/02/23 - - Optavise Annual Benefits Broker Survey: Employers Turn to Voluntary Benefits, Communications Support from Brokers to Rein in Healthcare Costs?

Friday, 03/03/23 - - Businessolver Benefits Insights Data Reveals Impact of Personalization on Benefits Engagement
Editorial Mission Statement: The goal of this publication is to provide readers a broad selection of what is being written about the insurance industry and related issues. Some articles may have a “tilt” towards a particular perspective one way or another. Inclusion in this newsletter is not an endorsement of any views or content; but report the various and differing views appearing in media.
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