‘Free Multimillion-Dollar Life Insurance’ Has Some Insurers Running For The Exits
Ed Leefeldt, Amy Danise / Forbes / / Read Article

Premium-financed IUL is a conduit to help wealthy people retain their substantial holdings in real estate and other investments that they don’t wish to sell. Instead, they buy multimillion-dollar life policies without expending the big cash payments necessary to finance them.

Here’s how it works: A life insurance agent locates a bank or lender willing to provide a large loan to the person who is buying the policy. Theoretically, the loan will be paid back using the cash value that’s building inside this big insurance policy, and the policyowner won’t have to take a dime out of their own pocket.

When insurance agents sell these policies, they often use a set of life insurance “policy illustrations” to show clients that they’ll make a ton of money in the future through the gains in cash value. Supposedly the gains will be so great that the person can simply take money from the cash value to pay the loan bill that’s due each month. In other words: an essentially “free” multimillion-dollar life insurance policy.

And, as the cash value in the policy grows in this scheme, the policyowner even expects to get back the collateral they used in order to obtain the massive loan they took out to pay for the policy.

But then, if the scheme goes wrong, the bottom falls out: The cash value doesn’t make the expected gains, and the giant policy payments and loan bills are coming due. The “illustrations” that were used for the rosy outlook are often flawed with “opaque and unaccountable features by agents who have no obligation to work in the client’s best interest,” and are sold as “an indirect way to play the options market,” says consumer advocate Birny Birnbaum, director of the Center for Economic Justice.

As Workers Struggle With Pandemic’s Impact, Employers Expand Mental Health Benefits
By Michelle Andrews / KHN.org / / Read Article

As the covid-19 pandemic burns through its second year, the path forward for American workers remains unsettled, with many continuing to work from home while policies for maintaining a safe workplace evolve. In its 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey, released Wednesday, KFF found that many employers have ramped up mental health and other benefits to provide support for their workers during uncertain times.

Meanwhile, the proportion of employers offering health insurance to their workers remained steady, and increases for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health expenses were moderate, in line with the rise in pay. Deductibles were largely unchanged from the previous two years.

At companies with at least 50 workers, 39% have made such changes, including:

  • 31% that increased the ways employees can tap into mental health services, such as telemedicine.
  • 16% that offered employee assistance programs or other new resources for mental health.
  • 6% that expanded access to in-network mental health providers.
  • 4% that reduced cost sharing for such visits.
  • 3% that increased coverage for out-of-network services.
  • Workers are taking advantage of the services. Thirty-eight percent of the largest companies with 1,000 or more workers reported that their workers used more mental health services in 2021 than the year before, while 12% of companies with at least 50 workers said their workers upped their use of mental health services.

Utilizing smart technology to improve the benefits experience
By Amanda Pope / ebn / / Read Article

As advances in technology have enabled more connection via smartphones and tablets, people have become accustomed to having their needs met in an instant and personalized manner. This expectation can serve as a point of frustration when something as important as their healthcare benefits don’t move at the speed of life. This frustration is often shared by HR teams as well, as outdated benefits processes that don’t work well with modern HR technology can slow down teams whose goal is to support their employees.

As businesses look for ways to better support their employees amid an increasingly tight talent market, leveraging application programming interface-driven technology can help them alleviate any frustrations and ensure the benefits they’re providing are available and easily navigable at the point of need.

To meet the needs of the moment, human capital management technology providers are looking for ways to level up the benefits experience. Realizing the value APIs can provide, ADP, for example, is leveraging embedded APIs within its HCM systems to enable direct integrations with benefits carriers, which can streamline the benefits process for employers, carriers and employees alike.

By reimagining benefits administration, frustration with benefits can become a rarity and a strong benefits program can serve as a differentiator in a talent market that demands employers find new, creative ways to stand out.

Wellfleet and EIS Survey Finds Workplace Benefits Brokers Demanding Better Technology
BUSINESS WIRE / / Read Article

A new survey of workplace benefits brokers conducted by Wellfleet and EIS reveals that while brokers are increasingly embracing their roles as advocates for employer clients, they find themselves in an uphill battle with legacy technology. This is important because technology is the No. 1 reason brokers will recommend a carrier to a client.

“Employers are stretched thin with the management of their current benefits programs, as well as crafting and implementing benefit strategies that resonate with their employees. When you add in a poor technology experience, the pressure HR benefits managers feel grows exponentially”

According to the inaugural Workplace Benefits Broker Survey, brokers’ top six carrier pain points are all IT-related. They include commission structure (52%), billing errors (48%), lack of real-time data insights for the broker and client (44%), time to underwrite the group (43%), and limited plan customization and slow data processing time (42%), respectively.

The survey, conducted to gauge broker sentiment on partner technologies, also examined factors that impact broker satisfaction and their ability to be successful partners with carriers in the current workplace benefits market.

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Over half of workers will enroll in new benefits
Financially protecting themselves and their families is priority for U.S. employees
Unum Group / PRNewswire / / Read Article

As we enter another enrollment season amid the pandemic, new research from employee benefits provider Unum (NYSE: UNM) shows U.S. workers plan to spend more time reviewing their options. They also plan to enroll in different benefits and pay more attention to the benefits their employers offer.

Unum's research among 1,500 full-time U.S. workers in August 2021 found new trends due to the ongoing pandemic:

  • Over half (57%) of workers plan to enroll in benefits they were not enrolled in last year.
  • More than two thirds (68%) of workers say they are more concerned about planning for their family's financial needs.
  • 66% of workers are more interested or aware of the employee benefits their company provides; this number highest among Millennials (78%) and Gen Z (73%).
  • 2 in 3 workers (67%) plan to pay more attention and spend more time reviewing their employee benefits.
  • 42% of workers are concerned about their mental health; these numbers are highest among Millennials (55%).

Health Insurance Competition Heats Up: Earnings
by Allison Bell  / Think Advisor/ / Read Article

Some carriers might be fighting harder this year for some types of health insurance business.

That’s one message that came out of the recent round of quarterly insurance company earnings releases and quarterly insurance company conference calls with securities analysts.

David Cordani, Cigna’s CEO, told analysts that parts of both the employer health market and the individual and family plan (IFP) market are hot right now.

“Indisputably, there are some pockets of intense competitive pricing in the IFP marketplace,” Cordani said. In the individual market, he said, one priority is “maintaining price discipline in temporarily dislocated markets.”

Cigna believes it can add more employer health business in 2022 while improving its ratio of claim costs to premium revenue, Cordani said.

In the individual market, he said, Cigna will probably lose some enrollees but end up with better medical cost ratios (MCRs).

“We will be quite disciplined,” Cordani said. “We’re willing to make targeted trade-offs for MCR or margin versus volume.”

In the long run, however, Cigna continues to see the individual health market as a growth market.

Half of Americans fear falling more than cancer and want to age in home without stairs
Survey: Americans want in-home long-term care, but half worry if their current home will be safe
Nationwide / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Over a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, most Americans (85%) agree that it's more important than ever to stay in their home for long-term care. However, nearly half of those not retired (47%) say they are concerned their current home will not be safe for them to "age in place."

According to the tenth annual Nationwide Retirement Institute® Long-term Care survey of 1,812 U.S. adults aged 24 or over and 706 caregivers, conducted by The Harris Poll in October 2021, the vast majority of Americans (88%) believe it's more important than ever for people to have a plan for long-term care and have long-term care insurance (86%) as COVID-19 has raised concerns about nursing homes.

"The pandemic has further fueled people's fear of being alone in a nursing home when they need long-term care," said Holly Snyder, president of Nationwide's life insurance business. "Our survey revealed that six in 10 adults would rather die than live in a nursing home. It's also made people consider whether they have a plan that will allow them to age in place in their current home if they need long-term care."

Fidelity Investments® and Paylocity Team Up to Provide Integrated Payroll Capabilities for Fidelity Advantage 401(k) Clients
BUSINESS WIRE / / Read Article

Fidelity Investments®, the country’s largest1 401(k) provider, and Paylocity, a leading provider of cloud-based HR and payroll software solutions, announced today that seamless access to payroll capabilities is now available with the Fidelity Advantage 401(k)SM pooled employer plan (PEP). This enhancement will reduce the administrative burden on small- and mid-sized businesses offering retirement plans for their employees and help workers start saving towards their retirement goals.

“Offering simple ways to help employees plan for retirement has become even more vital to attract and retain talent.”

Retirement benefits have traditionally been cost-prohibitive to smaller businesses, and workers are seeking financial security more than ever. According to a report2 by the Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives, there are roughly 57 million private sector workers (46%) who do not have access to a retirement plan through their employers. This access gap more heavily impacts smaller businesses and disproportionately affects lower-income workers, younger workers, underrepresented communities, and women. At the same time, retirement planning is top-of-mind for workers, according to the Fidelity Investments 2021 State of Retirement Planning Study, which found that seven out of 10 workers in the U.S. are making changes to improve their retirement preparedness.

Photo Of the Day

Monday, 11/15/21 - - Average Family Premiums Rose 4% This Year to Top $22,000; Employers Boost Mental Health and Telemedicine amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Benchmark KFF Survey Finds

Tuesday, 11/16/21 - - Child care benefits attract and retain employees | Expert column

Wednesday, 11/17/21 - -  Focus on Well-Being Sets Small Businesses Apart to Attract & Retain Talent, According to Guardian Life Research

Thursday, 11/11/21 - -  As Workers Struggle With Pandemic’s Impact, Employers Expand Mental Health Benefits

Friday, 11/12/21 - -
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