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Provident Bank Automates Benefits Administration

Web-based offering from Benelogic cuts employee benefit enrollment costs.

Provident Bank (Baltimore, Md., assets: $4.9 billion), a full-service commercial bank serving customers in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, has outsourced its benefits enrollment process to Benelogic (Timonium, Md.), an application service provider. Benelogic allows Provident Bank employees to enroll in all their benefits over the Internet at a secure site. All data is passed along to insurance companies, as well as integrated with the bank's payroll and human resource systems, in an end-to-end service.

"We realized a change was necessary because our branch system has basically doubled to 120 branches," says Lisa Gray, vice president of employee benefits, Provident Bank. "We were inundated with paper and had more employees eligible for benefits."

In early 2000, Provident Bank began looking for an online product for the 2001 open enrollment period. The goal was to make things easier for the bank's employees, as well as simplify the administrative process by eliminating the need to input data on paper forms. The bank sent out a request for proposal to five benefits broker firms in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., area.

One-Stop Benefits Shop

"We were not only looking for software but for broker services, because we had a broker and a call center arrangement in the past," Gray says. "At the same time, we were evaluating changing our payroll system because we had a DOS system and needed a Windows-based system."

Four of the five firms that provided proposals didn't meet the bank's needs because they had relationships with software manufacturers or didn't have call centers. That left Benelogic, and Gray admits Provident Bank took a chance with the provider because it had no prior experience with bank clients. Because Benelogic was looking for feedback, Provident Bank did some testing and recommended a few program changes in the summer of 2000. However, very little customization was actually required in order to get the bank's logo, benefit plan documents and summary descriptions incorporated into the online service within approximately 60 days. The bank offers its employees a choice among three medical plans, plus dental, vision, supplemental life insurance and numerous other core benefits.

Gray appreciates the virtues of the methodical and easy-to-use software, particularly the data-entry controls that ensure that vital information is not left out during plan enrollment. For example, the system shows a warning if an employee doesn't select a primary care physician, ensuring that enrollment is completed accurately. Even if employees don't have everything they need to complete an application, all previously entered data can be saved until a later session.

Benelogic also offers compatibility with different insurance company systems, which allows the bank to change insurance carriers without encountering technical hurdles.

Using the software's reporting capabilities, Gray can quickly and easily access key facts, such as a headcount of how many employees are covered in the system, or which employees are signed up for each plans. Other reports support billing and auditing. In addition, Provident Bank can download payroll information from the Benelogic system directly into its existing payroll system.

Selecting Benelogic has saved the bank millions of dollars, estimates Gray. Because Matthew Oros, founder and developer of Benelogic, is also founder of Huber Oros & Co. (Timonium, Md.), Provident's benefits broker, there are no additional costs to the bank, it doesn't get a separate bill every month from the provider, and it doesn't have to pay for any software upgrades as they are automatically added online.

Increased Efficiency

Also as a result of implementing this software, Provident hasn't had to increase the size of the benefits department, even though it has nearly doubled its employees. The resources available on the Benelogic Web site also have helped reduce the number of employee phone calls to the department. As an added benefit, Benelogic provides an orientation video for new employees and handles all open enrollment meetings.

"Using Benelogic software has allowed the human resource department to do more long-term planning, more research and more strategy," Gray says. "We don't have to talk to an employee wanting to know why the insurance company isn't paying a particular claim."

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FAST FACTS

INSTITUTION: Provident Bank (Baltimore)

ASSETS: $4.9 billion

BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Increase benefit enrollment efficiency to handle employees in 120 branches.

SOLUTION: Benelogic's (Timonium, Md.) ASP enrollment offering.

KEY QUOTE: "We realized a change was necessary because our branch system has basically doubled to 120 branches."- Lisa Gray, Vice President, Employee Benefits, Provident Bank

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