Exchanges: Better for all, but hard on insurers; reflections on the LIMRA Benefits Conference

I recently attended the 2014 LIMRA Group and Worksite Benefits Conference at Baltimore Harbor which has grown dramatically, driven by the disruption and opportunity to be found in the US group and worksite benefits marketplace. There were excellent prepared sessions and many good discussions at the conference, which left me thinking of what I see as the next conundrum in this market, the need for simplicity, transparency and clean customer experiences in a complex business. It seemed almost every session had the word “Exchange” somewhere in the title and most were trying to explain how exchanges of various kinds benefit insurers, employers and consumers, and how to leverage the opportunity this transformation presents. It was stated that exchanges are making things simpler for all parties: broker, insurer, employer and employee. But these new automated marketplaces make things considerably more complex for insurers.