June 4, 2023

Uncertain economic environment also remains a concern

KINGSTON, ON, Feb. 2, 2023 /CNW/ – Continued mental health support, increased need for access to health care services, customer experience improvements driven by technology, and a heightened need for consultative, advice-based selling will be key trends in group benefits in 2023 according to Stephen Frank, President and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), and Mark Sylvia, President and CEO of The Empire Life Insurance Company (Empire Life). The two shared their insights in a recent advisor webinar on trends in the group benefits industry.

Key trends for 2023

“In 2021, the insurance industry paid out $580 million in mental health claims, up 75% since 2019*,” said Mr. Frank. “The pandemic was a challenging period for all of us, but employers stepped up to provide increasing support for their employees. We anticipate that we’re going to continue to see that kind of growth thanks to less mental health stigma in society and greater support in place.”

Mr. Sylvia discussed how the insurance industry is helping with access to medical services. “Some companies have now introduced telemedicine services, a valuable option for people who are struggling to access a primary care physician. Access to mental health services has improved dramatically with product enhancements during the pandemic. Looking to the future, this may evolve into insurers having to start thinking about creating concierge or navigation services to support employees accessing their benefits and health care.” Demand for access to diagnostic services is growing but they need to be delivered within the parameters of the Canada Health Act. Mr. Frank agreed, adding, “A new path has opened up in this space. The crisis in health care is an opportunity for us to do better for Canadians, to do better for patients.”

With increased costs and a possible recession on the horizon, the current economic environment has already begun to have an impact on benefits in 2023, such as the increase in dental fees, said Mr. Frank. “We’ve done a couple of things at the industry level such as reaching out to the dental association and all the provinces to engage them in dialogue to continue to support benefits in the dental space.”

Mr. Sylvia emphasized the increasing importance of proactive client contact, communication and advice to best tailor benefits plans to employer and employee needs. “Giving the client options is really important. And as an industry, we need to do more to create different options for advisors and their clients. We still have a lot of complexity in our business, so we have to simplify that initial decision-making process for clients and provide more flexible package solutions.”

Overall, the industry continues to see growth in employers’ support for employee benefit plans in Canada. “We paid out $30.4 billion in health, drug and dental care claims in 2021, up 14% over 2020*,” says Mr. Frank. “Even in the heart of the pandemic when everything had ground to a halt, our business was meeting our promises at a level never seen before in history. This shows the resilience and strength of the industry and the important role we play for so many.”

*Canadian Life and Health Insurance Facts – 2022 Edition

About the CLHIA

The CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member companies account for 99 per cent of Canada’s life and health insurance business. These insurers provide a wide range of financial security products including life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and supplementary health insurance to over 29 million Canadians. They hold over $1 trillion in assets in Canada and employ more than 166,000 Canadians.

About Empire Life

Established in 1923 and a subsidiary of E-L Financial Corporation Limited, Empire Life provides individual and group life and health insurance, investment and retirement products. The Company’s mission is to make it simple, fast and easy for Canadians to get the products and services they need to build wealth, generate income and achieve financial security. As of September 30, 2022, Empire Life had total assets under management of $17.0 billion. Follow us on social media @EmpireLife or visit empire.ca for more information.

SOURCE The Empire Life Insurance Company

For further information: Karen Smith, Director, Communication Services, 613 548-1890, ext. 3387; [email protected]