Chatbots: The next innovation in group benefits

You may or may not have heard of a ‘chatbot‘, but it will most definitely be a topic of discussion at future group benefits conferences in Canada in 2017.

A chatbot is a rising trend, at the intersection of the hottest topics right now in tech: artificial intelligence, messenger apps, the mobile wave, and of course…teens. It can be likened to an artificial concierge, like a Siri or Alexa, but embedded within the messenger application.


For example, you might open up the Kik bot store, add the Sephora chatbot, and ask it about beauty tips or to find you the best eyeliner. The Sephora chatbot script returns to you the answers, customized to you, and delivered in a human-like fashion…as if you are chatting with a human. Except that you’re chatting with a ‘robot’.

(Throughout researching this post, I stumbled across a ‘chatbot girlfriend’ and shed a single tear for humanity).

It is estimated that teens spend 80% of the time on mobile devices on chat applications, such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, Whatsapp, iMessage, and beyond. Most marketers know that many mobile trends start with teens, then the 20s, and then the mainstream usually follows. sephora chat bot kik

Keep reading →

Promotion: Switch to pre-authorized chequing, and enter to win a getaway!

Promotion: Switch to pre-authorized chequing, and enter to win a getaway!

We are pleased to announce our summer promotion:

Switch your payments from Cheques to pre-authorized chequing (PAC) or direct deposit, and enter to win a 2-night stay in Blue Mountain!


  • Switching to e-payments saves you time.
  • One less item on your to-do list.
  • You will be notified by email of upcoming invoices and payments, and you can cancel at any time with 30 days notice.
  • You have the option of signing up for direct deposit instead of PAC.
  • This can be customized if you have multiple divisions.

Switch to PAC by June 1, 2016 to be entered to win the grand prize:

  • A 2-night stay in a luxury, 4-bedroom chalet in Blue Mountain
  • Hot tub, BBQ, and steps to the Blue Mountain Village & Golf
  • Choose if you want to stay on the lake, or near the Village
  • View photos online:

Email - Blog - Switch to PAC - Beneplan

Please fill out the attached from by midnight on May 31, 2016 and email it to – please mail the original to: 500-150 Ferrand Dr, Toronto ON M3C 3E5.

Contest Rules & Regulations

  1. Only one entry allowed per Member Company.
  2. Only member-owners of the Beneplan Co-operative are eligible for the promotion: employees, brokers, vendors, or other arms-length or non-arms-length entities are not eligible for the draw.
  3. The grand prize is not eligible to be redeemed for cash, not eligible to be resold, and is non-transferrable.
  4. Staying in the chalet is subject to the participant agreeing to the resort’s policies & procedures, and bylaws of the Town of Blue Mountains.
  5. If the winner of the contest has set a date, and needs to cancel, they are able to cancel or reschedule greater than 30 days of the check-in date. If the winner needs to cancel within 30 days of the check-in date, they are deemed to have forfeited their prize. Please notify us as soon as possible if you need to cancel or reschedule.
  6. If the winner needs to reschedule, there are maximum 2 rescheduling accommodations that will be allowed – if after 2 reschedules, there is a third need to cancel or reschedule, the winner is deemed to have forfeited their prize.
  7. The winner may choose their weekend, but the blackout periods are as follows: December 20th to January 4th, and any long weekend around statutory holidays.
  8. The stay must be booked by December 31st 2016 for a stay by June 1st, 2017.

If you have any questions, call us at 1-800-387-1670.


Yafa Sakkejha

GM The Beneplan Co-operative

Beneplan Co-operative Breakfast: Getting The Best Out of Your Insurance Plan

Employee benefits can be a frustrating part of a business. Insurance companies frequently play bait & switch games to lure in new business through low rates, but then ultimately have a high target profit that they try to reach over time.

The Beneplan Co-operative recognizes this and has created a structure that both minimizes costs, refunds excess premiums when claims are low, and puts the power back into the hands of the client.

The Beneplan Co-operative, provides group health benefits to small & medium employers in Canada. The Co-operative is a non-profit, member-owned structure, which acts as a buying group for the purpose of purchasing group health insurance at the lowest price possible.

CIFFA and many other freight forwarders are member-owners of The Beneplan Co-operative and have benefited significantly from its membership.

Meet and join Yafa Sakkejha, General Manager of Beneplan for a breakfast as she presents:

  • –           How to claim back an RST tax rebate on group insurance premiums
  • –           How to get a refund on group life, disability, health, and dental premiums
  • –           How to negotiate rebates directly from drug manufacturers
  • –           What specific phrases to say to your insurer to reduce your premiums

While this is a free event, that includes a hot breakfast and free parking, pre-registration is required so adequate arrangements can be made.

Event Details:  Thursday, May 12, 2016

Location: Four Points by Sheraton : Toronto Airport 6257 Airport Road, Mississauga, Ontario L4V 1E4, Canada
Event Schedule:

8:30am – Breakfast and registration
9:00am – Seminar begins
10:00am – Break
10:15am – Part 2 of seminar
11:00am – Seminar adjourns

Registration: Please Register through the CIFFA Events Page

Limited to 25 attendees, book now and learn how to save money on your group health plan.

Making a Change to Your Plan: Required Documentation

There are a number of life events that can impact a benefit plan. When one of these events happens in your life, you generally have 30 days from that date to make a change to your benefit plan, with no medical requirement.

Please see the various documentation required in order to make a change.

  • Adding a common law spouse

We require any form of proof showing the residential address is the same as the spouse. This would be any document showing an address change. These can include a photocopy or scanned version of:

  • Telco bill (account # omitted); or,
  • Bank document (account # omitted); or,
  • Government document or ID; or,
  • Tax documentation showing filing tax returns as common law.
  • Please note that all documentation will be shredded after the information has been filed.
  • Adding a married spouse
    • Require a copy of the marriage certificate with effective date of change.
  • Adding a late spouse
    If you are adding a spouse or common law partner to your benefits coverage, we do require proof your spouse lost coverage as well as the effective date:

    • Letter from the employer or the Insurance company, showing termination, or the reason coverage was declined.
  • Adding a Late Dependent (30 days after eligible)
    • We require written proof your dependent lost coverage: a former employer plan, or a letter from the prior insurer indicating the date that coverage was lost.
    • If you are adding a dependent who is not a direct relative, we require written proof of legal guardianship.
  • Changing Student Status
    When enrolling a benefits member to a plans as a student, we require a letter from an accredited post-secondary institution, along with a valid student card issued by the institution. Please note coverage runs from September 1st to August 31st the following year and the following documents must be submitted annually to continue coverage:

    • Letter from University; or,
    • Transcript; or,
    • Student card with expiry date.
  • Provincial Insurance Checks
    • Plan members must be covered by their provincial insurance plan in order to enjoy fully insured coverage. Random audits will be issued to ensure coverage is in place.
    • If a plan member does not have provincial insurance coverage in place, we will require proof of bridge insurance while the plan member is serving their waiting period.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our team who are happy to provide assistance.

What Is Pharmacogenetics and Why You Need to Know About It

When the human genetic code was cracked about 12 years ago, it brought with it enormous belief of instant application to human disease. It was soon after that pronouncements were made that there would soon be a cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s  and heart diseases, given that we now are aware of the genes causing them. Over the last ten years or so it has become apparent that any given disease is not caused by one gene alone. There is no “cancer gene” and there is no ‘heart disease gene”. In spite of this realization that one gene does not cause one disease, over the last 10 years, integrative medicine has evolved and several new genetic tests have become available; many with immediate clinical application to daily care. One of the most powerful of these applications is Pharmacogenetics. Keep reading →

[Infographic] Introducing The Beneplan Compassionate Drug Assistance Program

Effective January 1st 2016, Beneplan is proud to introduce a new program, designed to help individuals on expensive medications. As the number of Canadians prescribed very expensive medications continues to rise well above the rate of healthcare cost inflation, the insurance industry has done little to shield employers and their employees from these rising costs. At Beneplan we are proud to pioneer the Compassionate Drug Assistance Program in order to help plan members fill in any gaps in coverage.

Keep reading →

Introducing a new partnership: Green Shield Canada

green shield logoEffective immediately, Beneplan Inc is pleased to announce a new partnership with Green Shield Canada.

Green Shield Canada (GSC) is one of Canada’s premiere group health & dental carriers, and is one of Canada’s not-for-profit group insurance carriers. GSC was formed in 1957 by Bill Wilkinson, a pharmacist who was disheartened to learn that many Canadian families couldn’t afford essential medicines, such as insulin. Bill pooled his money with four other pharmacists so that anyone in need could access coverage. He also encouraged employers to do the same for their employees.

GSC was the first carrier to introduce the pre-paid drug card model which is now the ubiquitous standard. As a carrier who only provides health & dental benefits, many provincial government drug plans use the GSC engine to run their plans. Their flexible software allows GSC to match any plan design across the country, no matter how unique or customized.

Green Shield is an ideal partner for The Beneplan Employee Benefits Co-operative because of our uniquely shared value set: a greater social mission, a not-for-profit business model, and a consistent commitment to excellence.

Members of The Beneplan Co-operative will be able to select a carrier of their choice to provide the pooled benefits (Group Life Insurance, Group Long Term Disability, Short Term Disability, Group Critical Illness, and more): The Co-operators Life or Humania Assurance.

Welcome, Green Shield, to the Beneplan team!

About Beneplan

The Beneplan Co-operative is a member-owned buying group for employee benefits. Its goal is to reduce the cost of employee benefits through volume purchasing power, without sacrificing coverage. All profits are distributed to member-owners (employers) through patronage dividends.

Slides from the December 1 2015 Beneplan Benefits Law & Admin Workshop

In case you missed it, here are the slide decks from Beneplan’s annual Benefits Law & Admin Workshop:


Please contact us at 1-800-387-1670 if you have any questions.

Thought Leader: Dave Crisp, Former SVP HR, Hudson’s Bay Co.

David Crisp was the SVP HR at the Hudson’s Bay Company and reported to the CEO until he chose early retirement in 2002. 

He now does HR consulting and runs the Balance and Results blog. Here, he shares his insights towards being a better plan administrator.

  1. Try to keep the plan design up with the demographics
  2. Never allow pooled benefits to be optional
  3. Always have a co-pay
  4. Manage WSIB and sick leave abuse
  5. Stop anti-selection in order to reduce costs
  6. Communicate, communicate, communicate: post the 1-800# everywhere
  7. Educate employees before they need the information
  8. Employees don’t believe EAPs are confidential
  9. Never ask for feedback on your benefit plan
  10. Create a secure working environment to boost productivity

The Beneplan Co-operative


Beneplan Cooperative

  • A Co-operative allows for members to be shareholders in the structure. It also allows patronage dividends to be distributed to each member, which works in accordance with the premium refunds which Beneplan issues.
  • A Co-operative provides for better governance: a small board of directors can be elected, who can advise on behalf of all members and make decisions to move the interests of the buying group forward.
  • This allows you to nominate your company to be on the board of directors and have a bigger say in how the Beneplan Co-operative is managed.
  • Beneplan Inc is a separate for-profit entity, privately owned, which manages the Beneplan Co-operative which is privately owned by member employers.
  • Beneplan Inc continues to earn an administration fee for managing The Beneplan Co-operative.
  • This puts more transparency and direction in the hands of member employers, so it puts Beneplan Inc under greater scrutiny.