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  Friday, 07/26/19 - https://DailyInsuranceReport.com 

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Insurance Agency Mergers and Acquisitions in First Half of 2019 Shatter Record, OPTIS Partners Reports
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 11:40 AM

There were 328 announced insurance agency mergers and acquisitions during the first half of 2019, according to OPTIS Partners’ M&A database. It was the second-highest six-month total, trailing only the first half of 2017 when 333 transactions were reported. There were 300 deals in the first half of 2018.

A record 665 transactions closed in the past 12 months

The data covers U.S. and Canadian agencies selling primarily property-and-casualty insurance, agencies selling both P&C and employee benefits, and those selling only employee benefits.

“The aggressiveness of buyers continues to push pricing and transaction counts to new highs,” said Timothy J. Cunningham, managing partner of OPTIS Partners, an investment banking and financial consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry.

Activity by Buyer Type

The report breaks down buyers into four groups: private equity-backed/hybrid brokers, privately held brokers, publicly held brokers, and all others.

Out of 67 PE-backed/hybrid buyers active since 2008, 28 made acquisitions in the first half of 2019, the highest total of any six-month period other than the first half of last year, when 30 completed one or more acquisitions. This buyer group accounted for nearly two-thirds of all announced transactions in the past 12 months.

Acrisure led all buyers with 39 transactions in the first half, but that’s their lowest six-month total since 2016. Other top buyers were Hub International (26 deals), Patriot Growth (21), Assured Partners (21), Broadstreet Partners (18) and Gallagher (16).

Activity by Seller Type

Sellers for the first half of the year by type of agency were P&C-only agencies (169 announced transactions), employee benefits agencies (82 sales), P&C/benefits brokers 46 deals), and all others (31 transactions).

Canadian Activity

Twenty-seven out of the 328 reported deals took place in Canada, representing over 8% of the total, the highest count and percentage of Canadian-based sellers ever for the first six months of a year. Hub International completed nine of the 27 deals while 13 other firms completed the remaining 18 transactions.

Not all transactions are announced, so the actual number of agency sales undoubtedly exceeded number reported, according to Daniel P. Menzer of OPTIS Partners. “But our data collection process is consistent from period to period and includes a variety of sources. We’re confident the deal activity measured over time reflects of the overall M&A marketplace,” he said.

The full report can be read at http://optisins.com/wp/2019/07/june-2019-ma-report.

OPTIS Partners was ranked in the top five most active agent-broker M&A advisory firms for 2014 - June 2019 by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Health Insurers May Cover Statins, SSRIs, Inhalers and More at 100% Under Trump HDHP-HSA Notice
Ashlea Ebeling / Forbes

In a win for the health savings account industry and consumers with certain chronic illnesses, the Trump Treasury Department has broadened the list of preventative care items that may be covered at 100% under a high-deductible health plan before the deductible kicks in. But whether insurers will absorb the new costs or pass them on to employers and consumers in premium increases is a big unknown.

Notice 2019-45, Additional Preventative Care Benefits Permitted to be Provided by a High Deductible Health Plan, is effective immediately. That’s important because now is when health insurance companies and employers are setting up plans together for the 2020 plan year.

The thinking is that more employers will move toward high-deductible health insurance plans, with accompanying health savings accounts—and more employees will choose them--if these plans cover more preventative services before the deductible. Before, if a plan included these preventative services, it wouldn’t be an HSA-eligible plan.

Employees want the human touch with benefits help, survey finds
Riia O'Donnell / HRDIVE

Dive Brief:
Across all generations in today's workplace, talking to an actual person is the preferred method for getting information about their insurance coverage, a Colonial Life survey of 1,506 U.S. employees found. Just over three-quarters of respondents said they turn to HR professionals, family members, friends or colleagues to learn about benefits.

Only 11% of respondents said they found the web helpful in answering their benefits enrollment questions, with only 10% of millennials and 7% of Gen Z saying the internet is their go-to source for assistance.

When it comes to who they're asking for help, older workers generally turn to HR professionals; half of Boomers and 42% of Gen X look to them for assistance. Younger workers are more likely to turn to their peers and coworkers for help. Friends and family are also important resources for younger employees: 37% of Gen Z and 22% of millennials use them as a source of advice.

Aetna enlists AI to settle health insurance claims
The health insurer developed an artificial intelligence application to resolve claims, freeing up staff to focus on higher-level tasks, says CTO Claus Jensen, who plans to automate other processes.

Aetna has created artificial intelligence (AI) software to settle claims, a solution that could provide a blueprint for broader automation of complex processes at the health insurance giant. The software rapidly parses complex healthcare provider contracts, whose blend of information about medical conditions and financial data often tax the patience of the trained humans who process them.
By Clint Boulton / CIO

“It really comes down to providing a better experience” for end users, says Aetna CTO Claus Jensen, adding that the software will help the company be a better partner in the health-care ecosystem for providers and patients. “We have to do more than just pay the bills and answer questions on the phone.”

It’s a significant development at a time when all manner of companies are grappling with how to solve business problems with AI and machine learning (ML) technologies. Worldwide spending on AI systems is forecast to reach $35.8 billion in 2019, an increase of 44 percent over the amount spent in 2018, according to IDC, which placed healthcare at No. 4 in spending on AI, behind retail, banking and discrete manufacturing.

AI: A guidepost for automation

Aetna’s solution also highlights efforts companies are taking to reduce manual grunt-work performed by humans. Insurers, in particular, have emerged as leaders in adopting ML, AI and robotic process automation (RPA) to optimize business processes and improve employee productivity. Improving these areas, the companies believe, will in turn create a better experience for customers.

The student loan repayment benefits market is ‘blowing up’
By Caroline Hroncich, Amanda Schiavo / Employee Benefit Adviser

Advisers looking to sell voluntary benefits to their clients may want to consider products that help workers curb financial stress.

Voluntary perks are attractive assets employers are looking to add to their packages, including student loan repayment benefits, which is a booming voluntary options, said Katie Ott, director of worksite practice with M3 Insurance.

“That market is blowing up,” she said, speaking Monday at Employee Benefit Adviser’s Workplace Benefits Mania conference. “Student loan repayment is a burgeoning trend.”

Indeed, the number of employers offering student loan repayment has nearly doubled in the past year, according to recent data from the Society for Human Resource Management. Employers including Travelers Insurance, Wayfair and New Balance, all offer the benefit to workers. PwC, one of the early adopters of the benefit has paid nearly $26 million toward worker student debt since launching its program in 2016.

EverythingBenefits Joins Forces with PayPlus Software to Offer Benefits through PEOs
PEO Software company will now offer the complete benefits solutions of the HR platform.

EverythingBenefits, leading provider of next-generation automated benefits technology, today announces its partnership with PayPlus, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and Administrative Services Only (ASO) software company. EverythingBenefits is licensing its services to PayPlus which will extend access to these solutions to its PEO licensee ecosystem through the integration.

"We are excited to continue expanding the breadth of our offerings by joining forces with EverythingBenefits," said Rebecca Sotelo, Chairwoman of PayPlus Software, Inc. "Our partnership will deliver solutions to satisfy evolving needs our clients have for services that keep their customers compliant and on the cutting-edge of what the benefits industry has to offer."

EverythingBenefits creates and delivers benefit technology solutions and services to make it easier for employees to consume benefits while providing employers faster and bigger return on the investments they've already made in their existing systems

What Are The Biggest Unsolved Problems In Healthcare That Technology Can Fix?

What are some of the biggest unsolved problems in healthcare today that technology could fix? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Heather Fernandez, Co-Founder and CEO at Solv., on Quora:

Significant investment and discussion in healthcare tech centers around areas that push the boundaries of what’s possible today. Genetic testing, artificial intelligence, robotics and wearables all hold the exciting promise of highly personalized care recommendations and outcomes.

But guess what, when consumers are asked what they really want from the healthcare system today, consumers seek ease of access and visibility of cost. Consumers want more control in their healthcare experience and feel like they aren’t getting it.

Along with the Urgent Care Association, Solv ran a survey asking consumers what kind of healthcare tech would most meaningfully improve their experience in healthcare. As it turns out, the top technology requested by patients is something that restaurants, airlines, hair salons and yoga studios have had for over a decade — easy online and mobile booking. 67% of respondents indicated this as the most important, and despite the narrative that it’s millennials driving all the change in healthcare, it was those age 45 to 60 requesting it the most.

The next two top requests also fall into the category of what we call, the “brilliant basics”. 48 percent of consumers requesting paperless check-in, followed by 40 percent requesting access to prices ahead of time.

When you consider that consumers have grown accustomed to doing nearly everything on their mobile phone, these findings are obvious. The astonishing part is the disconnect between consumer desire and their current healthcare experience. While nearly every other industry has been redefined through the use of mobile technology to smooth the “transaction”, healthcare continues to be years behind.


Monday, 07/22/19 - Federal judge upholds Trump's expansion of non-ObamaCare plans

Tuesday, 07/23/19 - Research: Student loan assistance emerges as top new benefit option for open enrollment

Wednesday, 07/24/19 - Is forced telemedicine the future of healthcare?

Thursday, 07/25/19 - Industry Voices—How the future of healthcare will be shaped by the likes of Uber, CVS

Friday, 07-19-19 - Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury gave health insurers more flexibility to cover the cost of certain medications and tests for people with common chronic conditions who are enrolled in many high-deductible health plans.

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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor