Andrew Davison, COO at MGIS, and Kevin Cranston, Head of Product at Reliance Matrix, discuss the new partnership between MGIS and Reliance Matrix. MGIS and Reliance Matrix recently introduced Disability Guard for Doctors™, a new disability insurance product that caters to the unique income protection needs of doctors.

James Crook:
You are listening to The Broker Advisor Podcast, where we explore the disability insurance market, specifically as it pertains to protecting the income of doctors. The goal of this podcast is to arm you with interesting tidbits and anecdotes you can share with your clients and prospects. We have found that the two best ways to do that are to speak with doctors who have suffered from a disability and to pick the brains of industry experts who excel in their fields. As always, this podcast is brought to you by MGIS, insurance doctors expect. If you like what you hear, please remember to rate and subscribe to the show. Thank you.

All right, welcome back to The Broker Advisor podcast. We’ve got an exciting episode today. We have Andrew Davison, the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Underwriting Officer of MGIS with us, and Kevin Cranston. He is the Head of Product Development at Reliance Matrix. We’re here today to talk about the new partnership between MGIS and Reliance Matrix. So welcome in everybody.

Kevin Cranston:
Thanks James.

Andrew Davison:
Thank you. Great to be here and great to be having a conversation with our new partners and Kevin.

James Crook:
Well, very good. Well, let’s talk about the new partnership. So the question is, and I’ll let you both answer this, but what brought MGIS and Reliance Matrix together?

Kevin Cranston:
Yeah. I would start off by saying Reliance, we’re extremely excited about this new partnership. I think going back to my early involvement and even prior to me getting involved with this and some of our senior leaders at Reliance, I think what happened was right from the get go, I think both of our organizations just clicked. I think we both share the same values, we go about doing our business in a similar way. So I think right from the start, it really has been a true partnership. With Reliance being in this industry, in the disability market, along with other employee benefits for so long, we’ve obviously known what MGIS is all about. We’ve certainly followed them or tracked them from afar.

So I think having the opportunity of bringing their expertise in the physician market and then also bringing our expertise not only with similar disability products, but also the other capabilities and administrative services, along with the additional products that we have, I think it was just a pretty easy match. So I think once there was an opportunity for us to join forces and bring our organizations together, I think it was a no-brainer that we got to this place. And now that it’s out in the market and folks know that we are partnering together, I think everybody’s just really excited and we have a lot that we want to accomplish. So I think that’s just off the top from us. Andrew, I’ll let you bring it home from your standpoint.

Andrew Davison:
Yeah, I think you hit on some key points, Kevin. I think the number one thing from an MGIS perspective was Reliance Matrix was energized to grow, and we want a partner that wants to work with us to find ways to grow. As Kevin noted, Reliance Matrix has a deep healthcare vertical, which is a good fit for us, both for carve out opportunities for physicians as parts of hospitals potentially, but also because we bring a more specialized product to Reliance Matrix’s portfolio to really focus on specialized physicians. So it was a great fit there.

We of course, are really, really excited about partnering with Reliance Matrix because they have a best-in-class capability in the absence management space, and we will be looking for ways to integrate those going forward, but we’re super excited about that.

And then finally, it’s really about chemistry. And Kevin noted that too. You can tell pretty quickly in some of those early discussions what the vibe was. And as Kevin noted, I think we hit things off really well and it’s just been a great fit. And I would say that all the work that we’ve had to do from a transition standpoint, Kevin and I spent a lot of time together on conference calls, getting ready to file our disability, our specialized disability product together. But it’s just been so great working with everyone at Reliance Matrix in figuring out how we overcome some of the initial process challenges that we have. And I would say we’re in great shape. And now that we’ve gone live officially, things have gone… You always expect maybe some bumps along the road or when you first start a new partnership off.

I would say maybe there’s been a few pebbles in the road, not even speed bumps. Things have gone really well, and that’s a testament to both teams coming to the table, working to find solutions and where there was not necessarily an immediate connection, we found ways to problem solve and make it work. So I just echo what Kevin said. This is a really good match and we’re super excited about it.

James Crook:
Yeah, go ahead, Kevin.

Kevin Cranston:
Yeah, if I could just add too to Andrew’s points are spot on, and I also think this partnership is just happening at a really great time for both organizations, especially on the Reliance side. Over the last few years, we’ve experienced some really nice profitable growth, and I feel like we’re really clicking on all cylinders as a company. And I think there’s a number of reasons why. I think it’s from our strong leadership has certainly set the tone for our company over the last several years.

As Andrew noted, we have a comprehensive product portfolio. So not only your traditional life, short-term disability, long-term disability offerings, but we’re also heavily involved in the statutory disability, paid family medical leave space along with supplemental health products. So we have a lot going on that we can offer our brokers and our clients.

We have strong relationships with several different BenAdmin platforms, and that’s really where the industry’s going where, hey, having the product offerings are your table stakes, but the next level of service is okay, do you partner with the different BenAdmin platforms to make enrollment easier, to make billing easier? And then I would say we’ve done a lot of investments in just technology across the board.

And then I really think it’s just our people. It has also helped us really drive some growth. Everyone from our sales and service folks to our claims organization and really everybody in-between. There’s just a lot of expertise within our company, and I think there’s a really good understanding of just what our goals are as a company and how we can get there. And I think MGIS is sitting in a similar position where I think everyone just kind of understands what their role is, how to go about profitable growth. So I think bringing both of our organizations together at this time I think is just a really perfect match, and we’re really looking forward to what we can do together.

James Crook:
Excellent. Thank you both. So a quick question. Andrew, you mentioned chemistry. I’m curious how the sales organizations in both companies are reacting to this and what their insights have been so far in the new partnership?

Andrew Davison:
Well, I’m not a salesperson myself. I don’t even play one on television, but I can tell you that what I’ve heard is just a tremendous amount of energy around let’s figure out how we can leverage the expertise we both have. So one of the key things that MGIS needs, given that we have a relatively small sales force is a distribution organization in place that has a wide reach and a broad reach. That’s certainly the case with Reliance Matrix. Well-known in the group benefit space, goes without saying, but they have just come to the table with an openness around… And I think it’s a good connect with some of the things Kevin mentioned where they have a broad product portfolio and they’re used to approaching the marketing component from a perspective of we have our core wholesalers that know what they’re doing, they know the market, they build relationships, but we also like to bring in subject matter experts when we have specialized products and they can tell the story at a level, at a depth that just brings the value prop across more impactfully.

So it’s been a great match so far. Well before we flipped the switch and went live, we were hearing lots of feedback about how the Reliance Matrix regional sales office were inviting our RVPs in to meet everybody, start to talk about which brokers they had crossover relationships with? How can we leverage this? How do we want to attack this? So it’s been a great fit from a distribution standpoint, and that underscores even more why I think this is a partnership that’s really going to get some traction.

James Crook:
Excellent.

Kevin Cranston:
Yeah, if I could add real quick to Andrew’s point. Yeah. I know from a Reliance standpoint, our sales reps have been ready to go, and even in the first couple of weeks that this partnership has been officially live, they’re reaching out to the MGIS, their counterparts at MGIS, they’ve been reaching out to their broker contacts. I think the nice thing about having two sales forces going at this is it really just enhances the amount of broker contacts that we do have. And there’s going to be some situations where maybe a particular broker, the Reliance Matrix sales rep has the connection and the contact, and we can bring in the MGIS sales folks and then vice versa. MGIS may have a longstanding relationship, maybe we haven’t worked with that particular broker.

And so I think coming together is going to be fantastic. I think it just broadens our reach, and I know I’ve gotten a bunch of questions, and I was on a call earlier today where I heard some feedback that our reps have already been jumping at the chance to start to talk about this new product, talk about the new partnership. We’re getting asked, “Hey, are we ready to go in this state yet? Are we ready to go in this state yet?” So the lack of enthusiasm is not there. It’s total opposite. Everybody’s been ready to go for this. It’s just been waiting to unleash everybody. And now that we’re there, I think it’s all of the work that’s gone into to this point is paying off, and I think we can really start to get the message out the door.

James Crook:
Awesome.

Andrew Davison:
Just one final point and then we can move on, but it’s been obvious from day one that the enthusiasm has been top-down in Reliance Matrix sales organization. They really have embraced this. They have made sure the regional RVPs understand what we do, understand the product so they can drive it down to the frontline. And that honestly was something that wasn’t always there in some of our past partnerships. So this is again, a reason why we’re super excited and feel like this is going to make some great noise in the market.

James Crook:
Great. Well, thank you. Well, let’s talk about the market. Let’s talk about the target market. MGIS’ whole history is based on doctors. So does the target market continue to be doctors? Can both of you speak to that?

Andrew Davison:
Yeah, I can start off. The answer is yes, doctors. And we had in the past used a broad term we call healthcare professionals. We realized now that doctors really is a better term because it encompasses a broad range of professionals in the healthcare space. So physicians, specialists such as orthopedic surgeons, dermatologists, all those really focus specialties all fall within our market space.

We also offer the product to dentists. It’s specialized there. We do also market to veterinarians, and something we’ve noted in one of the things that’s really trending in the healthcare space is more and more direct care now is being provided by what we call advanced practice clinicians. So your physician’s assistants, your CRNAs. So we’ve always made the product available to that subspecialty, but we realize there’s maybe an opportunity that we can tackle in the coming months and year around a specialized product offering for that subspace too. So anything to add there, Kevin?

Kevin Cranston:
Yeah, not too much to add. I think this is really where our organizations are a good fit together because right now with the Reliance Matrix book of business, hospitals and healthcare systems, they make up the largest segment in our current book. So we’re already in this space with our existing products now. We add a specialized LTD product that really is honing in on the needs of physicians, and that just helps make our offering even stronger. But given that we already have a large presence in this type of segment, we’re familiar with the industry, we know what to expect, we know what to look for when it comes to our claims organization. They’re used to seeing and dealing with these types of healthcare professionals. So when they’re reviewing a claim, they know what to look out for right away. They know different specializations and different ways that physicians may get compensated and things like that. And all of that knowledge always goes into play when you’re trying to calculate a disability benefit or what they are going to be eligible for versus what they’re not going to be eligible for.

So I think that is another reason why this partnership just made sense from the start, is we already know the hospital business really well, the healthcare system. So we’re walking into it with already a heightened sense of awareness and expertise. And then some of the areas that may be a little bit newer to us, then that’s where we can lean on the MGIS expertise. So I think we can really compliment each other extremely well as we move on in the partnership because there’s always going to be some little nuances that pop up. So having that kind of extra layer of expertise with the MGIS team is going to be super beneficial.

James Crook:
Excellent. Yeah. Thank you both. Those are great insights. So let’s talk now about specifically the new product, the new long-term disability product that’s called Disability Guard for Doctors. I know that MGIS with past partnerships, it’s always had extremely strong LTD contract. I’m curious to know about this new product, Disability Guard for Doctors and what makes it so strong? Anything new and interesting? Take it away both of you, please.

Andrew Davison:
Yeah, I can start off. Sure. So to your point, James, we’ve always had a differentiated LTD product in the market space. Coming into this new partnership, we wanted to look at ways we could even improve upon that, and I feel like we’ve done that. So one of the key things we’ve done is take apart the contract structurally and put it back together and also simplify the language. So from a formatting and language standpoint, we’ve made the contract simpler, more intuitive. A good example is the definition section in an LTD contract. Previously we’d had definitions sprinkled all throughout the certificate form, tying to specific provisions. Now we have all the definitions in one space, so you can refer back to them. And just the flow of the various sections where we start off with, here’s your benefit provisions at a high level, here’s the way you would get paid in the event of a disability. Here’s the definitions, and then here’s all the boil the plate things at the end. So we spent a lot of time just making sure the contractor is cleaner and more logical and easier to follow.

A couple of things that we did to improve upon was already a differentiated contract. We reduced the level of earnings loss from 20% to 15% for an individual to qualify for at least partial benefit. So once an individual experiences a loss of earnings or 15% or more, they can submit a claim and potentially qualify for partial benefits. That’s something that’s less common in the industry, but we felt given our claim experience and strong profitability and what we see in terms of the way claims play out, this made sense for our contract.

For the definition of disability for doctors, physicians, we’ve always had the best in the market and the most unique in the market because it ties to actual procedures rather than a national definition of an own occupation or even an own specialty. What we did to improve upon that even further is provide additional specific language around how the CPT codes, which are the billing codes that physician practices use that would confirm or document those actual procedures. The language is now much clearer, much cleaner. So an individual can look at that and understand how CPT codes are going to be used to determine their eligibility for disability.

And then one other minor enhancement we made on the base contract is just our work site modification benefit, the max benefit increase from a 5K max to a 10K max. We felt that was consistent with on message around, “Hey, we want to support return to work whenever possible and make it more of an incentive.”

One final thing I wanted to mention, that ties back to a comment Kevin made more tactically, he mentioned Reliance Matrix’s experience in the healthcare vertical. One of the things that we have done in the past with other partnerships and we’ll continue to do is have a dedicated claims team managing the LTD claim block. We feel like, as Kevin mentioned, there’s solid deep expertise already in the Reliance Matrix claim organizational route, handling healthcare professional claims. And one of the key things we’ve always sold is that dedicated claims expertise and focus, that will continue going forward. So I’ll stop there, see what else Kevin might want to add.

Kevin Cranston:
Yeah, no, thanks Andrew. Yeah, before I get into some of the additional benefits or riders that we added to the contract, just wanted to make a couple of comments about disability coverage in general. So this may be obvious to those that listen to this podcast, but I just wanted to stress the importance of having disability coverage in general, especially long-term disability. I know I always say when I talk about disability after medical coverage, I would say LTD is probably the next most important benefit that you want to have. And I know sometimes in the industry we get caught up just referring to it as disability coverage. But an easier way to look at it, or probably even a better way of looking at it is its income protection. Again, we as individuals, we’re constantly buying insurance for our cars and we buy insurance to cover dental care and things like that.

And sometimes you forget that you got to protect your income. And sometimes that may seem wild to think about. It’s like, “Oh yeah, of course I got to protect my income.” If I can’t work or I can’t make my normal living, there’s going to be a lot of impacts to my everyday life. So again, I always like to talk about disability to remind folks of like, this is crucial coverage to have, especially when you look at physicians, they go through a ton of school, a ton of specialized training that they’ve earned, and they’ve gotten to these positions where they have income that does need to be protected.

So I look at this as being crucial coverage for not only anyone to have, but especially for physicians who are really helping keep the healthcare industry alive and helping people, whether it be surgery or general physicians. These are important people in just the landscape of society where you really want to make sure that if there is an instance that you can’t work, that you do have this type of coverage. And that’s really what Reliance Matrix and MGIS, we get excited about because we’re providing these benefits that are going to help you get through that time where you may be disabled, but also, we’re going to be there to help you get back to work and get back to the lifestyle that you’re used to.

So just wanted to bring that point across, but as a quick transition, in addition to the base contract enhancements that Andrew spoke to, we also did include a bunch of different additional benefits that are available for an employer to add to their contract. So a lot of the benefits are carryovers from MGIS has had in the past with past partnerships. So just to call out a few, Business Protection Benefit, Infectious and Contagious Disease, Progressive Illness, Student Loan Repayments. So folks that are already kind of used to seeing those benefits, those are going to still be available with the Reliance Matrix relationship. I think in total, we have 23 optional benefits that are filed. Not every single one will be available in every state. I’ll throw that caveat out there, but we have had a lot of success having all of the options available across the board. So that’s really a good thing.

There are a couple that I’ll probably call out specifically, and these are brand new benefits that we have available. So I’ll just go down the line. There’s four that I’ll touch on real quickly. One is an advanced survivor benefit. So this is a benefit could be paid to an employee while they’re still living if they do have a terminal illness. The second benefit would be a lifetime security benefit. So this would extend the total disability benefit beyond the typical max duration that’s in the contract if somebody is suffering from at least two ADLs and they’re receiving a specific level of care. So that’ll be an opportunity to get some additional benefit.

The third one I’ll touch on is a presumptive total disability benefit. So this would allow the ability to be paid, a full disability benefit earlier if an employee suffers from blindness, total hearing loss, loss of speech or limbs. And then the fourth one I’ll touch on is a transplant surgery benefit. And this is a specific benefit that could be paid earlier if an employee has a disability from a transplant surgery. So when I look at this contract, not only from what Andrew’s team put together for the base and then also the riders, this really was a true team effort. I think the biggest thing that we went into is we wanted to make sure the language was clear for not only an employee to read and understand, but also for our claims organization.

Because at the end of the day, we’re trying to remove that ambiguity because when we look at this particular product for doctors, if a claim is meant to be paid, we want it to be paid. We don’t want it to be a bunch of empty benefits where the language and the contracts sounds great, but then at the end of the day, it’s impossible for the benefit to actually be paid due to all kinds of stipulations that need to be met. So we wanted to try to make that as clean and clear as possible. And that’s really, again, just a testament to both of the teams working together, whether it be compliance, products, claims, underwriting, everybody coming together to build upon the contract that was already there and also to make it even better.

James Crook:
Okay. Excellent. Thank you.

Andrew Davison:
James, can I make just a couple of final comments to wrap up this subject?

James Crook:
Yeah, please do.

Andrew Davison:
First of all, a couple of those new additional benefits that Kevin mentioned, presumptive and transplant, those further enhance one of our market messages, which has always been our group product aligns with IDI coverage better than anyone else in the market because so many physicians, doctors, healthcare professionals have IDI already. Having a group contract that aligns with some of those benefits more directly than anyone else in the market is important, and some of those new additional benefits help us do that if an individual has IDI and they have some of those benefits already.

The other thing I want to make sure that we touch on is Kevin mentioned a number of the additional benefits that we had before that we’ll continue to have, things like the Business Protection Benefit, Student Loan Repayment, Cola, and several others. We’ve actually enhanced some of the language in the new contract in a couple of different ways where there were dollar maximums. And the one that jumps to mind is the Student Loan Repayment benefit. We now have the flexibility to offer higher maximum benefits on that than we did before, which makes sense given that doctors usually are carrying a much higher student loan. [inaudible 00:28:13] many other professions.

James Crook:
A doctor’s average student loan debt out of medical school is somewhere around $220,000.

Andrew Davison:
Right. So it just made sense that we have a benefit with more flexibility to do that. And then on a number of others, we’ve simplified the qualification language where, for instance, before it might state that you have to be disabled for at least 180 days, we’ve taken out that language and just say you have to be disabled the same amount of time as your EP. So we’ve continued all the ones we had before. We’ve improved the language in most of them and made them added flexibility as well. So it’s really a great story from a product standpoint.

And again, kudos to Kevin and the other Reliance Matrix folks that came to the table in getting ready to file our new products with an eye towards, “We know you know what you’re doing. Obviously you’re bringing us a very successful profitable block. Let’s find a way to continue that and make it even a more unique and differentiated product.” And I personally feel like we’ve done that. I think Kevin probably would agree. So it’s a great story.

Kevin Cranston:
Yeah, absolutely.

James Crook:
Excellent. Thank you both. So a couple of quick final questions for you. We’ve spent most of our time talking about Disability Guard for Doctors, which is the LTD product, but obviously Reliance and MGIS will offer STD in life to round out that holistic comprehensive income protection solution for doctors. Kevin, are there any key features or competitive advantages you would bring up with those products?

Kevin Cranston:
Yeah, so short-term disability in life, those are definitely some of our core offerings that we’ve been offering forever. So we have a lot of deep expertise with those products. We have a number of flexible plan designs with those particular products. We like to work with our customers to figure out the best solution for them. And this, again, I think with these two particular products, this is where our claims organization helps set us apart. Again, while we talked about earlier, they have experience with long-term disability claims, especially with hospitals, healthcare systems. Same can be said for short-term disability. Obviously shorter durations, different types of reasons that people go out on disability, but again, we have a contract that is easy to understand. There’s not a whole lot of ambiguity. So again, it’s something that an employee, a claimant, they can understand. They can get a good sense of what they’re going to be eligible for and what they could be receiving from a benefit.

And also from an internal standpoint, we know our contract really well. It’s been in place now for a while where our internal folks, again, they know what they’re looking for, they know what they need to adjudicate a claim, and then we can deliver on those promises that we’re making to clients that, “We’re going to be there in your time of need. If you do need to go out on disability, we’re not only going to have the contract and the benefits available, but we’re also going to be able to get you paid quickly.” And again, we also have some features of the contract that’ll help people get back to work quicker. Again, while disability happens, and it’s unfortunate, the average person, especially physicians, this type of industry, they want to try to get back to work quick as well.

So we’re going to be there to help them do that based on these particular products. And then again, if somebody does have to transition to a long-term disability, again, we have the features, we have the expertise to handle both sides of the shorter duration leaves as well as those disabilities that may last a little bit longer.

James Crook:
Excellent. Thank you, Kevin. And then the last question I have is just Reliance Matrix, MGIS is very excited to be partnering with Reliance Matrix. You have several other value add services that we haven’t or we’ve touched on briefly or haven’t touched on at all. Are there any other things you’d like to tell us about, Kevin, as we wrap up?

Kevin Cranston:
Yeah, so some of the value adds, yeah, those are our nice additions to our base offering. So we have an employee assistance program, travel assist, identity theft. Those are our three go-tos. So I’ll touch on EAP program real quick. That’s just a really nice benefit to have where we partner with a super strong vendor in the industry. And that’s really for folks to use for a lot of different reasons. If they’re having work-life balance issues, or maybe they’re struggling with some mental health issues, the EAP vendor that we have has tons of resources available, folks to speak to. They can help you get set up with face-to-face consultations for just a number of different issues that could be going on.

So really, anything that could be impacting your professional life, your personal life, that EAP is really there to provide some additional services and really help an employee out. Because again, besides work, everyone has a 1,000 things going on in their life, and sometimes it’s just the grind of everyday life can get a little overwhelming. And that’s where that EAP program can really step up and allow people to take control of that.

And then a newer value added service that we have in our portfolio is a financial wellness solution. So again, this is a newer offering that we’re going to be able to make available. We’re partnering with an independent vendor, so they’re not tied to any bank or any type of retirement institution. But again, this provides a lot of online tools where an employee can enter in a lot of their finances and their spending habits, and it really provides some customized dashboards and some plans that somebody can really grab hold of their financial situation and really track spending and really see if they can come together and work with an advisor at the time.

They have some experts that they can get access to, to really grab hold of if they are struggling with their financial situation, to just really work towards spending less than they’re bringing in and really see if they can work together to put a plan in place. So between all four of those, those are just some nice add-ons that we’ve had success adding to our life and our LTD products, and we’re really glad that we can bring those to the MGIS relationship and figure out a way where they work. Again, not all of these solutions work for every client out there. They may already have some of these in place through a medical provider, whatever it may be, but in those instances where we can add those to our portfolio, it’s just a nice differentiator that we have.

James Crook:
Excellent. Well, thank you Andrew and Kevin for taking the time to talk to us about this new partnership, MGIS and Reliance Matrix. It’s really exciting. I’ve been involved with MGIS for a few years now, and this is certainly one of the more exciting, most opportunity rich things that have happened since I’ve been involved. So we really appreciate your time.

Kevin Cranston:
Yeah, thanks for having me.

Andrew Davison:
Yes, thanks for the time and appreciate Kevin, you being on here. And all I can say is let’s go. Ready to roll.

James Crook:
Thanks for listening to The Broker Advisor podcast. If you liked what you heard, please remember to rate and subscribe to the show. Have feedback? Please remember to send it our way at brokeradvisor@mgis.com. Thanks again.

 



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