Emergence of the e-benefits model gained momentum last week, with the closing of UnumProvident Corp.'s (Portland, ME, $40.36 billion in assets) purchase of the assets of EmployeeLife.com, a provider of Internet business solutions for the management and administration of employee benefits. As a result of the transaction, which took three months to complete, UnumProvident's employer customers will be offered online self-service for their employees. UnumProvident, a provider of individual and voluntary products and services, will operate EmployeeLife.com as an independent entity; the firm will remain at its Mountain View, CA, base.
"Employees of our employer customers will be able to go online and make their disability benefit elections," says Todd Womack, director of public relations, UnumProvident. "This is a strong advantage because it gives people the ability to make these important, personal decisions at a time which is convenient for them and for the company. It also eliminates a substantial amount of paperwork."
Several UnumProvident subsidiaries and affiliates will benefit from the deal, as well. For example, Colonial Life and Accident Insurance, a Columbia, SC-based subsidiary that provides disability insurance, will be able to tap into EmployeeLife.com's technology. EmployeeLife.com also will work with Options and Choices, Inc. (Cheyenne, WY), which provides UnumProvident's data warehousing analysis function, and with Atlanta-based GENEX, which provides case management for disability claimants.
According to Womack, plans for exactly how EmployeeLife.com will work with all UnumProvident's subsidiaries have not been finalized. "We are still in the process of finishing the conversion and finalizing the strategic plan," says Womack, who at press time declined comment on whether UnumProvident will be marketing Employee.Life.com's products that include solutions for brokers, insurers and employers. "Certainly, employers providing UnumProvident's products are an important audience for us," he says. "We work with employers quite extensively. That was the key for our making the decision to acquire the assets of EmployeeLife.com."