It's easy to think of claimants in a negative light. After all,they represent an expense item that affects group experience andcould result in a rate increase. They require service, and serviceties up resources. But without claimants, we have no business. Weexist because people collect money to help them when something badhappens to them.

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So let's think of ways to connect with different types ofclaimant customers.

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The beneficiaries of employer paid or voluntary group life insurance expect us topay the death benefit quickly and with as little red tape aspossible. Life insurance provides a cash payout which is generallynot tied up in probate, and there is very little proof of claimrequired beyond a death certificate. But a group plan can provideso much more.

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If the employer or carrier offers the group an employee assistance plan(EAP), then beneficiaries and family members should be eligible forgrief counseling—and financial counseling is also often provided byEAPs.

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These services can be a great help to the survivors, and canhelp make sure the life insurance proceeds are used wisely. Ask theEAPs you recommend for information on their services in theseareas. They can be a much more meaningful differentiator to theemployer than a couple of pennies in the group life rate, and amuch more fulfilling service to beneficiaries and familymembers.

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Turning to products with living beneficiaries, critical illness plans providea great opportunity for packaging services related to finding thebest treatment. Advisory services packaged with critical illnessplans can help identify the best place to be treated, best recoveryoptions, and can help with understanding explanation of complexbenefits forms. These services provide peace of mind, while thecash benefit takes pressure off the insured's finances.

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Disability claimants are the best customers of all. The periodicpayments they receive give advisors and insurers an opportunity toshine. If their experience was great, they will likely share it. Agreat claims experience has a very positive effect on voluntaryparticipation. The disability claims experience can be improved bycustomer-friendly contractual provisions, including partialdisability, trial work day provisions and associated counselingservices (again, from an EAP).

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This is the age of the customer. The world of benefits is oftenviewed negatively by the public, and our poor reputation is partlybased on confusing contracts, difficult processes for customers,opaque reports and unfair denials. A claim is often the genesispoint of this customer discontent. Think how much better we will beviewed if the claimant/customer tells everyone what a greatexperience they had.

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