'Thinking outside the box'

Making critical illness coverage a cornerstone benefit

'Thinking outside the box'

As a provider of supplemental insurance, it’s important to Dante DeDominicis, national VP at Allstate Benefits Canada, to have a seamless process, making it easier for administrators to act quickly and efficiently. Speaking to BPM, DeDominicis says that when it comes to driving innovation and growth it’s essential to partner closely with all stakeholders in the value chain. 

“In my experience, it helps our organization to think outside the box,” he explains. “We've focused on working with different types of providers to make it easier for advisors to leverage our solutions. We look to partner with technology firms, group benefits administrators and even other carriers to expand our distribution and accelerate growth.”

At Allstate Benefits Canada, they specialize in providing critical illness insurance to employees through employers. This product, while being a subset of the broader group benefits package, often requires separate administration from the core group.

“It's important for us to find ways to make that easier for administrators and plan sponsors so it becomes seamless to offer our market-leading product as part of their employee benefits package,” says DeDominicis. “In order to do that, we've partnered with third-party administrators, as well as group benefits carriers that have the Allstate Benefits Canada product as part of their offering. This increases our reach and supports our goals of supporting more Canadians in their time of need.”

But within the critical illness world, there’s more than one challenge to grapple with. As DeDominicis tells BPM, only 20% of groups currently have this solution as part of their package – meaning there’s massive room for growth.

“I would say almost 100% of plan sponsors would acknowledge that there's a value for their employees who are dealing with a significant health issue or diagnosis - they're going to benefit from that. The problem is the budgeting and the funding available to pay for the insurance as well as the administrative challenges.”

Overcoming these budgetary barriers is crucial for wider adoption – leading Allstate Benefits Canada to create a model where plan sponsors don't need to provide upfront funding to offer this insurance. Instead, they introduce it on a voluntary basis, allowing employees to opt-in and pay out-of-pocket.

"This way, plan sponsors still get that goodwill of making the product available to protect the families of their employees," adds DeDominicis.

And it’s this focus on wellbeing that’s lead to a surge in interest for critical illness insurance. As an emerging market in Canada, DeDominicis is seeing more companies take a serious interest in the benefit.

“We know that there's the financial burden related to being diagnosed with a critical illness. That’s what our coverage is initially designed to solve for. However, what we noticed after some time in the market was that there's also some challenges related to navigating our healthcare system - as well as understanding the complexity of a diagnosis and what the best treatment plan would potentially be for uninsured members.”

To combat this, Allstate Benefits Canada partnered with TELUS Health in 2018 to offer a nurse navigation service that members can have access to.

“So when they are diagnosed with a critical illness, they can call their nurse navigator and begin working with them – having their questions answered and helping them understand what the path to recovery looks like, and what options are available,” says DeDominicis.

And in order to satisfy the growing needs of clientele, DeDominicis says at Allstate Benefits Canada they encourage an entrepreneurial spirit amongst their sales team – something he believes is critical in fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility.

“We ask them to treat their market, whether that's a region or a segment, as their own business,” he explains. “It helps them not only to be proactive and creative, but also to align with the partners that they're working with who are often business owners themselves. Our sales team develops business plans every year that outline who they're going to be working with, the strategies they're going to be employing, to drive business with those partners.”