Justin Donald Leader

Benefits Professional
  • The End User

    Apr 23, 2015

by Justin Leader


A lot of perspective can be lost in a business transaction. Some might feel the most vital portion of a business agreement is the sale or the close. I think there is a component that many sales professionals do not include in their sales process, but should. Perspective – it’s what is needed most from the start of a conversation to the end. In that, I have found that keeping perspective regarding the end user is often the most sincere viewpoint a seller can share with a buyer.

In the realm of employee benefits, I believe we can all do a much better job in offering solutions to not only our clients, but employees and their families, who rely on the plans that we put into place. Mind you, employee benefits is a people business and that human element, is why I chose this career to begin with.

Perhaps it was handling my first accidental death claim, from start to finish, which created the greatest impact on me during my professional career. For years I had been pursuing potential clients looking to provide them a solution to their problems. Want to save money? We can do it! Want to broaden benefits? We have been doing it for 30 years. Have a problem with your broker, consultant or carrier? We are the solution. Ultimately, though, I didn’t anticipate how I would personally feel when one of our plans would be utilized.

I knew I was always providing a solution, otherwise, why would the client buy in the first place? It was that turning point of utilization that allowed for total empathy of just how dire a situation can be, as well as how important it was for me to provide the right solution. That is, the right solution for not just the employer client, but more so for that individual that would be on the receiving end. This could be the employee themselves, the family, the children, a spouse or other named beneficiary.

In our business, we broker plans for clients that are considered large employers, and most often multinational. Our focus lies in providing solutions regarding employer paid Life/AD&D, Disability and Voluntary Benefits Domestically. Globally, our focus is travel accident, out of country medical and expatriate insurance. People become disabled, people get hurt, and in life insurance, people are expected to die. In our long-standing niche, accidental death & dismemberment, our firm is widely considered a leading expert in the nation. The caveat, however, is that while we know the coverage inside and out, contracts are just words on paper. When something catastrophic occurs, like a typical AD&D claim where the person is between 21-55 years of age, healthy and productive, I feel that we have an obligation to put that end user in our foresight – with the utmost empathy.

I had recently approached a large multinational employer regarding their globally mobile employees. Understanding the current state of affairs, as well as my experience, I believe not only could my firm save them money, but perhaps we could provide them a substantially more robust contract. My gut feeling was right! We helped them to realize a 27% premium savings, uncovered a substantial gap in coverage, and expanded their benefits beyond what they had with their “alphabet” house incumbent.

It wasn’t until I received a phone call one Saturday morning a few months later from that companies Global Benefits Manager, that I had a major heartfelt breakthrough of Jerry McGuire proportions. Suddenly, everything became more “real”.

“We have an employee who just died overseas, they are young, with a family, and we need to get the body back and start the claims process.” No details are shared at that point, however, my heart sank. I thought about the way the lives of that family changed instantly. I thought of the anxiety and distress they must have felt as their loved one’s body lay lifeless across an ocean. I thought of the weeks that would progress, and the loss they would feel for years to come. It sincerely broke my heart. Until that day, policies were just paper. It never occurred to me that I’d actually experience such an event. What if this was my family?

As I collected my thoughts, I realized that this is why I do this job. This is the “bigger purpose” for what I’m doing. This is why the client provides these benefits to their employees. This is why we strive to leave no stone unturned when reviewing and designing these plans. This is why we discuss crazy and morbid scenarios that may never occur. It is our job to be thorough.

We aided the client to understand the workflow, assisted them with the repatriation of mortal remains via our assistance vendor, and filed the claims appropriately so that the family would receive the death benefit. We made certain that all ancillary costs were covered, and that the family did not have to pay a penny or worry about their loved one returning home in time for a service or funeral.

In the end, it was my little contribution in the grander scheme of things that helped to provide a cushion to this catastrophic event. No amount of money can bring back a loved one. But what we, as brokers, benefit professionals and consultants, can do is ensure that we are always looking at our business from the perspective of the end user. By doing so, we will always do business for the right reasons.