October 30, 2023
Ideon Insights: Guardian’s Josh Weaver on APIs and digital partnerships
Welcome to Episode 3 of Ideon Insights, our monthly interview series featuring thought leaders and innovators driving the benefits industry forward. In this episode, we sat down with Josh Weaver, Head of Digital Ecosystem & Partner Management at Guardian Life, a leading provider of life, disability, dental, and vision insurance and other group benefits.
In this Q&A, Josh explains how Guardian leverages technology to enhance the benefits experience, their focus on API connectivity and strategic tech partner selection, and their collaboration with middleware solutions like Ideon. He also dives into Guardian’s real-time quoting capabilities, winning business in today’s small group market, and more.
Watch the full episode of Ideon Insights here. Below we’ve highlighted five key moments from the conversation.
IDEON: How do you evaluate and choose benefits technology partners?
JOSH WEAVER: To me, it all starts with value. Guardian is really focused on the overall well-being of our plan holders. So really, the first piece is, you want partners that are focused on the same thing. Are these partners focused on really improving the experience for our plan holders? Number two, we think about the entire lifecycle of a member, and really how do we, through connectivity, engage with these partners—API preferred—to create a better experience than Guardian could provide alone.
Do you select partners based on their connectivity capabilities?
If you’re not an API-enabled partner, there has to be a very unique value prop you’re bringing to market for us to want to partner with you in a commercial or a more strategic manner. If I fast forward five, six, seven years from now, I think you’re going to see API connectivity is replacing EDI.
So really, if you’re not on a modern technology stack, then you’re not necessarily the companies that we’re looking to partner with moving forward.
Does connectivity impact which carrier a group chooses?
Benefits are still an extremely important part of the conversation. But it’s also around, as an employer, how does working with Guardian make my life easier? Do they work with my benefit administration platform? Do they offer online EOI or EOI API?
You’re seeing plan holders and brokers, when they’re recommending carriers to clients, they’re looking at not just what benefit package makes the most sense, but really what’s going to fit all of their needs. You’re seeing the technology, and that ecosystem-partnership piece, being just as important as the benefits conversation. If you have a subpar value prop with a platform, oftentimes the broker is not even going to recommend you or even look to quote you.
How does Ideon fit into Guardian’s digital strategy?
Guardian has the ability, through Ideon, to connect with multiple platforms that, for us to connect with each one of these individually, it’d be such a massive investment and endeavor. Working through Ideon allows us to get with more platforms faster.
As a carrier, there are only so many API connections you can build. So, the middleware allows us to access a greater number of platforms, which ultimately empowers the employer to be able to pick a broader set of platforms that are going to work well with Guardian. From our perspective, engaging with middleware really is about reaching more clients in the ecosystem they choose.
Just through the lens of BenAdmin and enrollment, the more connectivity you have, the better. There may be a reason that an employer chose a platform that Guardian is not integrated directly with. That’s fine. And that’s where the middleware allows us to really have that connectivity and expand our portfolio.
What digital solutions has Guardian implemented in the small group space?
I think an area that we’re really starting to push into—and push forward with Ideon—is really around real-time quoting capabilities. For us, if we think about the small group segment, a lot of brokers and group general agencies want to be empowered to self-quote, they want to be able to do it on their own time, on their platform.
And so really, utilizing that real-time quoting technology is an area that we are continuing to focus on. We feel like to create that shop through purchase through implemented-with-Guardian experience, where it’s a one-touch sales process, quoting technology is important. It can be a differentiator in the market.
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