Having aggressively supported technology as president and CEO of UnumProvident subsidiary Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co. (Columbia, SC), Gary Kirkner says he will do the same in his new role as senior vice president of CIGNA Group Insurance (Philadelphia), sales and account management.
Before his departure from Colonial last April, Kirkner championed customer-facing technologies and electronic submission applications in efforts to stay in the forefront of the intensely competitive supplemental insurance market. "We felt we were on the leading edge in the worksite market," Kirkner says. "I'm not sure any competitor could do what we were doing."
At CIGNA, Kirkner is charged with leading distribution and customer retention initiatives for the firm's group disability, life and accident businesses. Kirkner hopes to leverage his Colonial experience both for its similarities and differences to his current brief. "I bring some different exposure to technology from worksite insurance marketing, and as we move down the road, we've got to answer questions about how important it is going to be for group insurance companies like CIGNA to be in worksite," he says.
After about a week on the job, Kirkner has had a chance to interact with the division IT officer to assess the opportunities to leverage the group's technology assets. "I've been in a few meetings exploring how we can apply technology to create competitive advantage in the field," he says. CIGNA Group Insurance is currently in the midst of an initiative to provide an enhanced front end to allow the field distribution force to interface with back-office underwriting systems. "We're going to allow our field people to have a lot more flexibility quoting prospects," Kirkner says.
Kirkner now reports to Michael W. Bell, president of CIGNA Group Insurance, who describes Kirkner's arrival as an important step toward the firm's market leadership in group insurance. "We're thrilled to have an industry-leading sales executive with a track record of outstanding financial results heading up such an important function for us," he says.
When Kirkner stepped down from his president and CEO duties at Colonial, Bob Best, chief information officer and senior vice president, customer services, UnumProvident, stepped in as acting president, largely on the strength of his two-decade history with the subsidiary prior to his moving into the UnumProvident organization. On July 24, UnumProvident announced that Jean Duke has been appointed Colonial's president and chief financial officer. Best will remain with Colonial in the capacity of chairman, while retaining his duties at UnumProvident, a Colonial source says. Duke, a 13-year veteran of Colonial and former vice president of finance, has been working as a consultant to insurance and financial services organizations on operations, finance and business strategy since 1998.
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio