As senior vice president of compliance for national insurance broker and benefits consultant Corporate Synergies, Dan Kuperstein has been closely involved with compliance matters related to the Affordable Care Act, ERISA, HIPAA, and other employment legislation. He’s published a number of articles in the field, and shared his thoughts on some key issues that frame the current environment for insurance and benefits compliance.

What areas of employee benefits management will be most improved by legal industry use of artificial intelligence and technology-assisted review?

While artificial intelligence and technology-assisted review haven’t completely removed the need for humans with a legal education, the algorithms in these benefit administration platforms and applications have made them much smarter, easier to use, and more intuitive. They can often anticipate many plan participants’ legal questions and legal-related problems early on.

That being said, even with all of these technological changes that have dramatically impacted the insurance brokerage/benefits consulting industry, lawyers are still needed as trusted advisers, and as valued financial partners, whether working as in-house counsel for insurance brokerages and consultancies, or as benefits consultants to clients in the industry. The primary reasons for this are:

  • The U.S. regulatory system has changed so dramatically the last few years that technology can’t keep up with the changing rules.

  • The complexity of laws and regulations around mergers and acquisitions have made advising on a deal extremely complex, and beyond the scope of what most AI or technological review programs can handle.

Additionally, I would expect that the rapid advancements in blockchain technology, which is not currently being used much in the employee benefits management arena, will soon greatly improve both the security and transparency of benefit payments and other plan-related financial transactions

What issues will coming changes in the legal industry pose for in-house counsel and how is your department preparing to address them?

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I see most of the new changes in the legal industry as extremely positive developments for working lawyers in the insurance brokerage and benefits consulting sector. AI, technology-assisted review, blockchain technology, smart contracts, and other new technologies have saved time and kept lawyers from doing the more mundane and routine work. The most creative and intelligent lawyers will continue to thrive.

How does changing policy on paid family leave affect insurance brokers and employers?

It’s one of the most important and significant trends affecting our industry. The increasing number of new state paid family leave laws and regulations is affecting brokers and consultancies everywhere.

At Corporate Synergies, we are working with clients across the country who are having a lot of difficulty understanding how these new laws impact their health insurance and other insurance benefits, and we have all had to become experts at helping them get through the regulatory patchwork to find meaningful, practical, and cost-effective solutions for their employees. We look at all levels of a client’s compliance program when it comes their benefit plans — federal, state, and local laws — as well as proposed rules coming down the regulatory pipeline.

Even with the best benefit guides, such as employee handbooks and leave posters, employees (and their employers too) are incredibly confused by all the new rules in this area. It’s particularly difficult for employees to understand their leave benefits where they may reside in one state but work in an adjacent (or different) state, or where they work from home but report into an office in a different state, or where they may temporarily work (for part of the week, or travel through) in one state, and then work in a different state.