Canadian Underwriter

What Hub is seeing in the cross-border space

November 22, 2019   by Jason Contant

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With the growing need from Canadian businesses for cross-border expertise, clients are often looking for a complete solution to cover all their employees, Hub International told Canadian Underwriter recently.

“What we are hearing from our clients that have employees in the U.S. is that they want a holistic approach for their benefits cross border and they want to deal with a single organization that can serve them in both markets (and beyond for those clients that have a global footprint),” Faizal Mitha, chief innovation officer of Canadian employee benefits at Hub, said Wednesday.

“What we often find is that employers have a hard time establishing what is fair and equitable for benefits in new markets beyond Canada that line up with their overall benefits and compensation goals.”

Mitha discussed cross border solutions with Canadian Underwriter following Hub’s announcement Nov. 12 that it was expanding its Canadian employee benefits and retirement solution with six strategic service areas: pharmacy, total health, retirement, communications, digital, and cross-border. Hub has acquired about two dozen Canadian employee benefits firms over the past two years.

Hub said in a press release that it is leveraging its geographic footprint to provide easy access to support and an efficient path to complete coverage solutions that many Canadian and U.S. businesses desire on either side of the border.

“It all starts with common leadership and alignment across the country with our Canadian advisors and their U.S. counterparts, who work closely together to help our clients with sound advice, cost management and an eye towards trends in the marketplace to give them a competitive advantage,” Mitha said. Mike Barone leads both the Canadian and U.S. benefits consulting team.

Hub chose the specific six services areas as they were aligned with feedback from clients and its advisor group “as well as some of the success stories from the U.S. which were applicable in Canada,” Mitha said. “The goal was to create a competitive advantage for our clients in areas such as employee engagement, cost savings, administrative efficiencies and greater flexibility. The early results have been very promising thus far and 2020 is going to be even more promising,” Mitha predicted.

Besides cross-border, the other service areas include:

  • Pharmacy – With the open-ended cost for pharmacy drugs unsustainable, Hub said in the press release, the brokerage is looking to assist clients with support and resources, including research and insights on drug efficacy, access to complex drugs and DrugHUB, a knowledge database that will provide clients with a better understanding of drug information to make confident and informed decisions
  • Total health – Hub has created a unique total member health strategy to support all aspects of health – physical, mental, organizational and financial. Support and resources include providing plan sponsors resources to identify problems and offer solutions, data analytics, predictive modelling, health and wealth programs, mental health, financial health, disability and absence management
  • Retirement – Hub continues to build its Canadian retirement practice to help executives, employees, individuals and their families with support and resources, including proprietary tools for plan sponsors to offer their members
  • Communications – The Canadian communication & design service will offer tools to clients in all market segments. “What we found from our clients was a disconnect between current benefits communication materials and what employees are looking for to truly understand and become engaged with their plan,” Mitha reported. “We put together our own communication & design team to offer our clients engaging, easy-to-understand communication materials in multiple formats to help them understand their benefits in a medium they are most comfortable with.”
  • Digital – Hub is creating a digital benefits platform to reduce administration duties and to solve major inefficiencies dealing with multiple systems for plan sponsors. The platform will be an online digital marketplace and data repository offering small groups an easy way to purchase coverage and individual voluntary/P&C products online. Small groups are employers with 20 employees or less who are looking for a streamlined all-in-one solution that also connects them to our marketplace of Hub products and services, such as home and auto insurance on top of their traditional benefits, Mitha explained. “The digital pillar permeates throughout each of our six services as we continue to evolve to meet our clients where they are,” he added.

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