How Guardian Life plans to go direct to consumer

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The Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America announced that it had selected the full core systems suite from EIS Group to support a ramp-up in the life insurer's direct-to-consumer business. Most of Guardian's current life insurance customers come through workplace benefits, but changes in the workforce are leading the company to invest more in one-to-one marketing of its products. Peggy Maher, SVP of direct to consumer for Guardian, explains why a new technology backbone was needed to support this expansion in a brief Q&A with Digital Insurance.

DI: Why are you looking to expand the direct to consumer business?

Maher: Guardian first entered the Direct to Consumer space about two years ago, with our Guardian Dental products. [Our] investment in the model is consumer-driven, a direct outcome of the evolving nature of consumer needs. When we look at the composition of today’s workforce, about 26 million people are working part-time, roughly 16 million people are independent contractors or self-employed, and about 4 million workers are retiring each year. These individuals and families may not have access to the same benefits as other workers. Most part-time jobs in the U.S. come with no insurance or retirement savings benefits, and independent contractors, are not employees of a company, so they don’t have access to a company’s benefits plan. These groups account for more than a quarter of the total employed workforce – and they may have significant gaps in their health and life insurance coverage. A direct to consumer approach will offer solutions to this growing set of consumers with unmet insurance needs.

DI: What is required from a tech standpoint to support the business, and why did you decide to use EIS Group's suite to meet those requirements?

Maher: Our approach needs to match how [consumers] shop for and purchase other products today. Consumers demand that information be accessible in real time, that we demonstrate a clear and complete understanding of the household relationship across multiple products and family relationships and that every servicing channel has immediate access to the same information, with the ability to support triggers and alerts to allow for value-add member interactions. EIS Group’s modern architecture is a modular design that can be leveraged as component parts or as an end-to-end ecosystem. The component parts are supported by APIs that allow us to easily connect to other services as we choose. The component approach gives us maximum flexibility to connect partner relationships into the ecosystem over time. EIS’ design and architecture will be the perfect foundation for our digitally enabled direct to consumer business.

DI: Are there any other technologies that you're pursuing as part of this ramp-up?

Maher: We do not have firm plans to pursue other tech partnerships at this time, but we regularly review insurtech and fintech candidates to assess how they might add value to Guardian and to our members.

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