Guardian is partnering with technology firm Maxwell Health to offer its brokers a multi-carrier platform designed to streamline benefits and HR functions for small- to mid-sized companies.
Guardian BenefitsCenter — which is being rolled out this quarter to a select number of Guardian brokers — aims to make it easier to quote, procure and enroll employers and employees across all types of benefits, from medical insurance to voluntary benefits such as dental, vision, life, disability and accident insurance. Employees, meanwhile, will have access to all of their benefits through a mobile app that incorporates a variety of benefits on the Maxwell platform, including healthcare concierge benefits, telemedicine services and ID theft protection.
“We feel in order to maintain the presence that we have in the markets we serve, and maintain our relevance and the value that we provide to our brokers, that we need to place [technology] bets like this and make certain that we’re staying ahead strategically,” says Eric Pumiglia, second vice president, strategic sales initiatives, group sales management, with Guardian.
Indeed, brokers who don’t stay on top of technology developments in the benefits space put themselves at a disadvantage, says Vinay Gidwaney, chief product officer and co-founder, Maxwell Health. “If you’re involved in any capacity in benefits – as an insurance company, as a broker, as an employer, as a TPA – and you do not have technology as part of your thinking, you're already irrelevant,” he told EBN in a recent interview. “The smart ones are the ones who open the conversation with technology. The not-so-smart ones wait for the employer to say, ‘Hey, I heard about some type of technology and tell me about it.’ Those guys are the guys that are falling behind.”
The Guardian platform is slated for a full launch in 2017. And while it has some elements of a private benefit exchange — going to one place to make a purchase, having the opportunity to purchase products customized for a particular employee’s needs, for example — the company is calling the product a platform, not an exchange.
“Where [Guardian BenefitsCenter] takes a little different direction, and why we label it as a platform versus an exchange, is the other non-insurance components related to the consumer, and then the other non-benefit services related to the employer,” says Bob Neil, national practice leader, specialty markets. “And it’s much broader than a benefit exchange that started four or five years ago.”
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