Within the group insurance industry, the beneficiary claims experience varies widely. With some carriers, that process is smooth and positive, but sometimes the experience can be more challenging. As employers and consultants consider an insurance carrier, it’s crucial to be aware of the full life cycle of the product — including the beneficiary experience.
To better understand beneficiaries’ concerns and pain points, Securian Financial collaborated with Ipsos UU, a marketing research firm, to learn more. In-home interviews with beneficiaries and advocates dug deeper into the life insurance claims experience.
The two big aha’s for companies
This research uncovered two key opportunities to improve the claims process. Which not only benefits the beneficiary, but improves the claims experience for everyone involved — including HR staff, employees and beneficiary advocates:
- Anticipating “top of mind” questions and setting clear expectations curb anxiety.
- Tailored communication and support can improve the claims experience for everyone.
Top questions from beneficiaries
Most beneficiaries interviewed revealed this was the first time submitting a life insurance claim. From the moment they become aware of the policy and their role, these are their top questions:
- Is the policy valid?
- How and where do I find out what to do?
- How much is the policy worth?
- Do I have to pay taxes?
Study participants reported their anxiety decreased when the insurer proactively answered these questions at the beginning of the process — and set clear expectations about next steps and timing.
Three stages of the claims journey
To provide better support, employers need to understand the range of emotions beneficiaries experience at each stage of the claims journey; pre-claim, claims and claim payout. For instance, in the pre-claim phase, beneficiaries are grief-stricken, surprised and uncertain. In this phase, most would have liked more direction on who to contact and where to start.
Improving communication with beneficiaries clearly reduces stress. But employers and insurers can ease the journey by:
- Providing a checklist of topics to cover during a conversation between the policyholder and beneficiary.
- Encouraging policyholders to keep beneficiary contact information up to date and facilitate an annual review.
- Offering an option for policy information to be automatically shared with a beneficiary (with the policyholders’ consent).
Employers can also help their employees (policyholders) prepare for the unexpected by encouraging them to have conversations with their beneficiaries once the employee purchases a policy.
How employers can shift their approach
To be sure, the industry needs to shift its thinking, especially as the “Great Wealth Transfer” begins — when baby boomers shift wealth to their children and grandchildren over the next three decades. Younger generations are accustomed to companies anticipating their needs and expect automation. Which also translates to their experience as a beneficiary.
Employers can make this shift and improve the life insurance claims process by collaborating with their benefit provider to: anticipate questions, set clear expectations, streamline the process and empathize with the beneficiary mindset.
For a deeper look into Securian Financial’s beneficiary research, read this two-part white paper series:
Have more questions or wondering how Securian Financial approaches the beneficiary claims process? Feel free to contact us.