Having just re-branded from the 50-year-old Colonial Life & Health name in February, UnumProvident subsidiary Colonial Supplemental Insurance (Columbia, SC, $260 million in sales premium) is leveraging technology to deliver a new employer services package to gain some edge in the increasingly competitive voluntary benefits marketplace.
The package, which includes a variety of technology-driven features delivered free of charge, is aimed at easing the cost and time burden faced by employer plan administrators, according to Cherie Tibbetts, Colonial's vice president of marketing and product development. "We've positioned these services as value-added offerings that go above and beyond what our worksite competitors would normally be providing to employers," she says, adding that the package has special appeal to small employers with limited administrative resources.
The service package includes Easy Billing, which allows customers to electronically transfer billing data to Colonial through a secure HR Web Site (access to which clients are given as part of the offering). The carrier then executes reconciliation of invoices using electronic match technology, according to Tibbetts. The package's Core Benefits service involves the collection of employee-specific benefit data to illustrate to the employee the portion of benefits covered by the employer. Colonial also offers flexible spending accounts (FSAs), which allow employees to contribute pretax dollars to dependent-care and medical reimbursements, and premium-only plan (POP) administration, which enables employees to pay for qualifying benefits on a pretax basis through payroll deduction. "Our technology allows us to illustrate in a real-time environment the positive or negative impact of benefit plan elections employees make, on their paychecks," Tibbetts observes.
The only for-fee service item within the package is the FSA offering. Because Colonial outsources its administration to a TPA, that service carries a per-participant charge, Tibbetts explains. To illustrate the value of the remaining services, Tibbetts says, "if the employer were to purchase access to the equivalent of our HR Web Site service it would cost them an annual fee of approximately $400." Tibbetts also asserts that Colonial is one of few companies providing a full suite of such services in the voluntary benefits marketplace.
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