As part of an ongoing effort to make benefits administration faster and easier for its customers, UnumProvident (Chattanooga, Tenn.; $134.5 million net income, fourth quarter 2004) has expanded its suite of online tools to include a step-by-step disability claim-filing guide.
The guide, implemented in March, includes sample claims forms, administration guides and information specific to maternity or long-term disability claims. Once the claim has been processed customers can access an online claim status service, implemented in April 2004, that lets claimants check the status of claims payments and submit key dates related to current claims, such as the last day at work or anticipated return-to-work targets. In addition, if an employee is on maternity leave, the baby's delivery date may be entered online.
"We utilize a team of UnumProvident IT resources who are dedicated to our web services development," explains Stephanie McGovern, director of employee Internet services for UnumProvident. "This approach has maximized the efficiency of our IT employees and ensures that services are consistently designed with a focus on adding value for our customers," McGovern continues. The UnumProvident corporate Web site is updated with new services and enhancements every three months.
The tools are facilitated by "a robust Web services infrastructure that enables us to enhance or add new services continuously," according to McGovern, who explains that UnumProvident's Internet services platform was designed in-house by a Web-development team that focused on efficiency, to enable frequent enhancements; scalability, to ensure support of a growing user base; and flexibility,y to meet the needs of various customer segments including claimants, plan administrators and sales partners.
The decision to expand online capabilities for employers and employees stemmed from a series of surveys and customer usability studies indicating that it would be valuable to provide more online support for claims administration, explains McGovern.
"Plan administrators are very busy and want employees to be able to access information directly from the carrier," says McGovern. UnumProvident expects online services eventually to emerge as the preferred way for customers to access information and conduct business with the carrier. "Our base of new users is growing significantly each month," reports McGovern. "Customer feedback indicates that the site is very easy to use and provides timely information."