The Future of Insurance Podcast – Jen Daniel

SVP & National Practice Lead, Benefits Technology and Partnerships, Aflac

Season 3, Episode 12, August 23, 2022

Guest Bio

A proven leader in the insurance industry specializing in benefits technology, Jennifer Daniel has an established track record of developing and fostering teams that drive innovation and deliver positive impact to sales results. As National Practice Leader, Benefits Technology and Partnerships at Aflac, Jennifer is responsible for the distribution of Aflac products through third-party platforms. In her current role, she leads a team of technology forward individuals who are responsible for identifying and leveraging technology solutions that support the company’s customers, brokers and sales team, as well as introducing innovative technology solutions that help solve internal challenges.

Guided by the belief that the insurance industry must embrace opportunities created by digital transformation, Jennifer is a strong advocate for using technology to provide a better experience to all stakeholders. Over the course of her career, she has developed a diverse skillset that includes strategic planning, product development, benefit administration, voluntary product support, marketing, relationship management, and customer service training and execution.

Jennifer is a frequent and sought-after speaker at industry events on topics related to technology, enrollment trends, benefits and benefit administration. She is passionate about mentoring young professionals and serving as an advocate for other women. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and riding her Peloton bike.

Highlights from the Show

    • Jen started as an Advertising major in college and found a role in Insurance, and never left
    • Jen spent her career focused on Employee Benefits, and has a passion to help employees understand the benefits they have so they can take advantage of what they have access to
    • Jen’s work focuses on the platform partners that Aflac distributes their Group offerings through, which is all about being easy to do business with for the platforms
      • The selling of Benefits has changed from brand and price to ease of doing business, working on the platforms employers use and giving them the data to understand what their employees use and need
    • Carriers and platforms have had to change to focus on employee experience and decision support for people who don’t understand the benefits and insurance they have access to
    • Health Insurance and Voluntary Benefits are sold together, but they’re different in practice since the employee gets paid with Voluntary Benefits whereas doctors get paid by Health Insurance, so providers like Aflac need to think about engaging with the insured more than health insurers might
    • Aflac has both direct, individual products as well as their Group offering of Voluntary Benefits, where the products are similar, but the distribution and the buyer are different
    • With Group, employers are going to their technology or platform provider, sometimes before they go to their broker, to see who works well on the platform, gives employers the data, etc, making the platforms an important client of Aflac as much brokers, employers and employees are
    • With 150 platform partners, Aflac has had to look at how to give options people want while also being sustainable and scalable, which they’ve found through simplification of the offering rather than unlimited options and flexibility
    • Giving people too many options for something they don’t understand well in the first place ends up creating more problems than it solves by offering something for each individual preference
    • This is where the new decision support tools come in to ask simple questions and let people choose
    • These tools are either being provided by the platforms or solution providers just doing decision support, and Aflac needs to work with both by making their products easy to build into the tools
    • Claims is another focus area for innovation, and trying to get to a place where payment can just happen automatically, which would take permission to access health data from employees
      • This could be a regulatory issue, but also one of industry standards and collaboration
      • There also needs to be consideration for what this does to claims experience if more claims are paid than might have been paid otherwise, and if that impacts pricing, potentially impacting affordability of the product
    • APIs are just starting to come on the scene in the space, with a few areas of focus to replace EDI file transfer
      • Evidence of Insurability APIs – being able to give employees automatic answers on eligibility after they answer the application questions (this is already starting to be used)
      • Enrollment API – taking enrollment data from benefits admins and sending it over to carriers (just starting to ramp up now)
      • Plan Build API – helping setup the plans in the platforms by automatically setting up the details
    • Looking forward, Jen sees a need to change in
      • CX and meeting how employees want to do business
      • A focus on data to lead to faster, easier claims
      • Helping brokers as their role changes to also help with wellness and technology, not just coverage and price
      • New products or ways to group products together into broader, simpler coverage
    • As more people are solopreneurs or gig workers, Aflac looks at how they can serve that space (they have individual products that serve them today, but also need to think about how people’s situations are evolving and what that means for Aflac and their space)

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