Aflac says it will now pay out certain voluntary benefit claims in one business day, an announcement that industry experts say will likely force competitors to follow suit.

Aflac’s One Day Pay initiative “allows the company to receive, process, approve and disburse payment to policyholders for eligible claims within just one business day,” says Aflac’s chief marketing officer, Michael Zuna.

He calls it a trailblazing initiative and one that will likely “motivate and drive other companies to move toward our standard.”

And that, he says, is good news for brokers.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for brokers selling voluntary insurance,” he says. “A broker’s business growth is only as good as the carrier’s promise to deliver.”

Rob Shestack, senior vice president and national practice leader for voluntary benefits at AmWINS Group Benefits/NEBCO, agrees, saying, “Anything a carrier can do to help a broker sell more voluntary and make the process easier for the client, broker and employee is extremely important.”

Shestack agrees voluntary providers will likely be moved to match Aflac’s one business day claims processing and payout, which he says will be beneficial, especially for employees.

“This is extremely important for disability and life insurance claims, because those events typically find the policy holder in need of those cash benefits more immediately,” he says. “The same could hold true for critical illness and cancer benefits as well.”

“In the end, it really needs to be all about the employee and their ability to fill gaps for reasonable premiums and have an easy and comfortable experience purchasing voluntary benefits,” Shestack says. “This certainly includes the claims process.”

Claims processing

Aflac says as part of its One Day Pay initiative the company is also simplifying the claims submission process for policyholders via Aflac SmartClaim, the company's online claims submission system.

Zuna says the system provides easy-to-answer questions and prompts to guide users step-by-step through the claims submission process. Once the questions are answered, SmartClaim identifies the supporting documents the policyholder needs to upload.

SmartClaim submission is available for all types of individual accident, cancer, hospital and sickness; hospital indemnity, intensive care and specified health event claims — regardless of whether they are simple, moderate or complex claims.

More than 70% of individual claims can be processed and paid this way, says Zuna, adding that “there are some exclusions, like life insurance and STD, but the majority can be paid out this way.”

If an eligible claim is submitted via SmartClaim by 3 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday, with all supporting documentation, Aflac processes, approves and disburses payment for the claim the next day.

If the participant uses direct deposit, Zuna adds, payment could be received even faster.

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