Storytelling About Pendella With Bob Gaydos

Have you ever wondered how to provide better coverage for your employees beyond the traditional group insurance plans? Well, in this podcast episode, Bob Gaydos Founder and CEO of Pendella, shares his insights on why individuals should have access to individual life and health insurance coverage.

With a background of 33 years in the life and health space, Bob is an innovator who has been at the forefront of creating innovative solutions for employee benefits. He discusses the challenges of relying solely on employer-provided group insurance, which often falls short in terms of coverage. Bob explains that the problem arises from the fact that most Americans get their benefits, including life insurance, through their employers. This system was never intended to be the only source of life insurance, and it often leaves individuals with inadequate coverage.

So, if you’re looking to offer your employees better coverage and more flexibility, Pendella’s innovative solutions might just be the key. Give this podcast episode a listen and discover how individual life and health insurance can make a significant difference in the lives of your employees.

It’s time to rethink traditional group insurance and explore the world of individual coverage.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 25 minutes

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Bob Gaydos
Founder & CEO Pendella

Bob is the founder and CEO of Pendella Technologies. Pendella’s embedded, white-label individual life and disability insurance solution empowers distributors and carriers to easily offer affordable life and disability insurance options to their customers. The technology automates the underwriting process through the power of artificial intelligence and big data, creating a seamless and highly intuitive policy-buying experience where consumers can buy a policy completely online in minutes without a medical exam.


Storytelling About Pendella With Bob Gaydos

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you’re listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today we have Bob on from Pindella and we’ll be talking about the use case of the business case for why customers and prospects pick his company. So why don’t we do introductions first. Bob, tell us a little bit about yourself and

Bob Gaydos: Pindella.

Well, I’ve been in the life and health space selling mainly to employers for like 33 years. Can you believe that?

William Tincup: At one point we stopped saying years. I know. Have you noticed that? At one point? A long time. Long time. Oh yeah. [00:01:00] Yeah. Longer than I care to admit.

Bob Gaydos: I’ve always been an innovator in the space. Um, in the nineties we were doing level funded health plans before anybody knew what level funded health plans were in the two thousands, I innovated by creating a company called Choice Care Card, and we were one of the first HRA debit card based HRA in the United States.

And then in the 2010s, I innovated by getting involved with companies like Maxwell Health and Limelight Health and creating technology for the group market. So I’ve always been an innovator in this space, um, of employee benefits. Uh, of course that, you know, brings me into lots of relationships with, uh, the HR people over the, over the decades.

William Tincup: That is fantastic. And now Pindella, what do you, what do you, uh, what do you do there? What’s the, why, why do we have

Bob Gaydos: Pindella? That’s a great question. And I actually wrote the business plan in 2010. Hard to believe. Oh, all right. [00:02:00] I thought about it during when the Affordable Care Act, when it’d be, when the Affordable Care Act was passed, that’s when I realized that maybe we could go back to the future.

And here’s what I mean by that. The problem, the reason why we exist and the problem that we’re trying to solve is this, you know, most Americans, as we know, get their benefits from their employers, including their financial protection of life insurance. And in fact, for the majority of Americans, the only life insurance they have is the employer provided group term insurance.

That’s an accident. It was never supposed to be true. And the problem with that is that the group insurance many times is inadequate. Um, you know, maybe it’s only 50, 000 base or one time salary, and even if you can buy a voluntary buy up, it might be capped at 500, 000, which is simply not enough coverage in today’s world.

Right. And it still has a leftover oddity, which is the spouse can only get half of whatever the employee has. Like, somehow that makes sense, which it doesn’t. Um, and of course it’s not [00:03:00] portable. And, you know, look, 30 years ago, we didn’t change jobs. That’s right. Now we change jobs every two years. Right? 30 years ago, my mortgage was 35, 000.

Now the average mortgage is 400, So, it’s really a tough place that we’re in. And so, what I realized back then was that the only way the Affordable Care Act was going to be implemented was online. We had to create What is now, you know, Online Benefits Administration, right? And that would create a virtual lunchroom where you could go back to the future, because a lot of people don’t know what happened.

I’ve been in this business long enough to know what happened. If you go back into the early 1990s, Every life insurance company in America had a health insurance plan. Every one of them. Guardian, MassMutual, Principal, Northwestern, you name it. And they were using health insurance as a loss leader to get into the lunchroom so they could sit with the employee and introduce them to the individual [00:04:00] protection of life insurance or disability or even individual retirement accounts.

Well, they all got out of that business because once the state started reforming health care, they just, they got out so fast. It was unbelievable, right? And so suddenly they didn’t have access to everyday Americans. And also, the other thing that happened at the same time was, and this is, you know, the reason why a lot of HR people think you’re never bringing individual life insurance back, is the carriers started taking blood and urine from everybody because of the AIDS epidemic.

And I remember, I mean, you know, we were trying to do it, like we would go to the lunchroom and we would bring a nurse. And the employers were like, get out of here. What are you doing? Right. You’re taking blood and urine from my employees in order for them to get life insurance. Get out of here. And so we just defaulted to the group market and it was guaranteed issue and it was easy and it worked for a while, but it doesn’t work anymore.

Right. So what I looked at the situation, said, okay, we’re going to go online. That’s going to create virtual [00:05:00] lunchrooms. The carriers are going to start using big data. Big data will eliminate the need for the blood and urine, and we can go back to the future and we can bring individual life insurance, individual disability, and other individual products to the employee in the employer setting.

And this will be a great thing. So that’s, that was the idea. Okay. Now it just took forever to get here. You know, um, the market, you know, it took a long time for the market to get online. Now every, all employers use online benefits, payroll, HR now, right? Nobody did 13 years ago, right? Right, right, right. The carriers, you know, 13 years ago, they were definitely afraid of big data.

Now they’re all using it in some way, shape or form. And some of them are using it greatly. Yeah. And so we finally got to the point where we can do it, right? Where we can get ourselves embedded into that platform, benefits, payroll, HR platform. And bring important individual plans, individual policies to those employees, to their spouses, to their children.[00:06:00]

365 days out of the year, because it’s individual, right? They get a ticket with them. You know, it’s like people say it’s a portable. It’s individual. By definition, it’s

William Tincup: portable. That’s right. That’s right. So the, what are the offerings themselves? What’s the array? What are, where are we, where are we starting to stop?

What’s the Well,


Bob Gaydos: a great question. When we, we ran a pilot in 2017 and we quickly realized that you couldn’t have one product from one carrier because people come in all shapes and sizes with all different needs and you know, very few carriers have an appetite for everything. Right. So we, we have several carriers.

I think we have like seven carriers on the platform digitally end to end right now and a variety of products. So we, you know, 10 level term, 10 to 40 years, decreasing term, uh, whole life, you know, we even have individual disability final expense because, you know, look, sometimes that’s all you can, sometimes people.

That’s all they’re going to get is the [00:07:00] final expense plan, because they’re unhealthy, but we’re going to bring something to them, right? So we had to build an array of products. And once we started building the array of products, we realized that we had to build what we call our recommendation engine, which is a field underwriting machine.

Because what is a human agent supposed to be doing? A human agent is supposed to be assessing the person’s risk and assessing their financial situation. Right. And so we do that. We take in self reported data, system data, and big data in order to make the proper recommendation, right? Am I talking to a healthy single mother who rents?

Or am I talking to a 50 year old empty nester who’s got a health issue and owns his house? Who am I talking to, right? Because those are very different people with very different needs, and their underwriting journey will be different. Um, so it’s a variety of products. We can write as little as 10, 000 coverage, as much as 3 million in coverage.

The spouse, the children. You know, all of them. We try to have it be instant [00:08:00] issue as much as possible. That’s not always possible. Sometimes people are outside of instant decision either because of a significant health issue or they have significant needs. I can get I can get 2 million instant issued on a 40 year old, but I can’t get 2 million instant issued on a 60 year old.

Right. Right. They’re going to have to go into some type of underwriting. Those are

William Tincup: different, uh, actuarial

Bob Gaydos: tables. Exactly. Very different people.

William Tincup: Right. So, the benefit to the employer, I mean, I would assume that you’re selling into HR, and then you get into benefits and comp, or even total rewards, whatever.

Um, what’s, how do you sell it into them? Like, what’s the uptick?

Bob Gaydos: Yeah, there’s two things. One is easy and fast, which is once you have a conversation with any HR person, they know that that group term is inadequate. They know, right? Right. Okay. They just didn’t know there was a [00:09:00] solution because whenever, when they, when an HR person hears individual life insurance, what they, what they hear is, The old fashioned way of somebody comes to your house and you’re going to have this agent and then you’re going to, you know, they hear that old process and they’re like, no, I don’t want that.

And so once we explain to them, no, it’s digital, it’s embedded into your platform and it’s going to be convenient and all that, you get over that. And so that allows them to just do one very important thing, which is bring better coverage to them. Now what’s evolving, and I think it’ll evolve. Quickly in the next few years, as you have different companies now starting to use lifestyle accounts.

I think lifestyle accounts are a big part of the future of employee benefits. Um, just give people money and let them take care of themselves. Right? Right. Um, and then, you know, what do you care whether, if you give them a lifestyle account and it’s 2, 000 and they decide to take 500 of that and buy an individual policy, [00:10:00] that’s great.

Let them do it. Right? Um, and I think that becomes a recruiting tool now to say, well, we, we do have lifestyle accounts and you can do all sorts of things with the lifestyle accounts, including use it towards individual life insurance. Now, it may evolve to the point where it really was in the 70s and 80s, which was the base insurance was individual insurance in the 70s and 80s.

Right. Um, where that employer said, I’m going to give you 50, 000, it was individual, but that’s going to take several years because it’s going to take a while for the big data underwriting to get to the point when it can spread the risk enough to guarantee issue a base amount of individual coverage across the entire employee base.

But I think it will get there, but it’ll take a while. What I

William Tincup: like about this is, uh, you know, this is something you could see at least, uh, years ago, this would be afforded to executives.

Bob Gaydos: Yes.

William Tincup: Yeah. Right. Exactly. And, and now you’ve, you’ve made that available to everyone, everyone that’s, everyone that [00:11:00] works there, which, which again, I think is great as a retention.

You said recruiting, uh, it’s great as an engagement, uh, uh, apparatus. It’s great as a retention apparatus. Uh, people feel safer. I think when they feel safer, uh, they probably do better work. I don’t have any data on that, but it’s just my gut. Tells me that they’re not as stressed, uh, because they feel like there’s a security blanket for their, for their family.

So I love that. Um, what’s been your take on, and well, let’s do buying questions first, because I think this is more important. What are questions if they’ve never done this before, if you’re interacting with a CFO or CHRO or somebody like that, and they’ve never bought this before, what are some of the questions that they should be asking you?

Bob Gaydos: Well, the biggest thing they’ve got to, well, the hurdle usually they get over is, um, there’s, they’re like, well, I’ve never really promoted individual [00:12:00] products out to my employees before. Right, right. It’s like, well, why is that a bad thing, right? And they’re kind of like, well, I guess it’s not, right? Because their minds are still kind of stuck in the past of, you know, I’ve got everything on a group chassis and if they leave, they don’t get to take it with them.

And it’s like, you know, welcome to today’s world. They’re going to leave. They’re not going to stay with you for 30 years. They’re going to leave and giving them flexibility and giving them individual products and individual choices is actually far more important than some golden handcuff that just isn’t going to be there anymore.

And that does mean that now you’re going to start communicating with them in a way that you haven’t communicated with them before, right? You’re, you’re used to communicating one thing right now, which is, Hey, it’s open enrollment, go, go enroll in open enrollment and that’s it. And they go through a process, but these are individual policies.

They can buy 365 days a year and people’s lives changed 365 days a year. So one of the biggest things that we say to them is we would like to [00:13:00] take your data, your employee data and analyze it and, and do some target marketing with them. Um, if we know that. These are the people that bought a house in the last 90 days, and these are the people that had a kid in the last 90 days, and we should reach out to them and let them know that.

Send them a company email saying, hey, don’t forget, you can buy individual life insurance. And that’s something different for them. They haven’t really thought it through, right? And, um, but I think it’s something important. That if you’re going to, if we’re going to move into this world of individuality around benefits, which certainly lifestyle accounts is doing, then the data is the key to telling you what it is that they need.

Use that data, right? Um, so the biggest thing that I think that I’ve seen people get hung up on is, um, Yes, Bob, this makes perfect sense. We know our group coverage isn’t adequate. You’re not telling us to get rid of the group coverage. You’re telling us that this should go on top of it. But we’re not used to communicating to people in this way.

Right. Um, and that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It’s [00:14:00] just they have to change a little bit. Yeah, but it’s,

William Tincup: uh, you know, to me, it’s, again, getting over kind of, uh, how we’ve done it all, how we’ve done it before is, is the need for the audit from the audience and in this case, the employees to have it personalized to them.

Yes. You know, they, they, they don’t want this. You know, I used to tell people when I did marketing, if, if the respondent ever feels like they’re one of 85, 000 people that got the email, it’s DOA. So, it’s, it’s similar in the sense that, like, you can use those specific life events as triggers to then say, hey, know that you did this.

By the way, you’re already thinking about this, here’s an option. And again, that’s, to me, that’s a better employee experience. So when we talk about EX, like that’s just a better employee experience and journey that like the company actually cares enough. to care about what’s going on in my life [00:15:00] and then give me suggestions that make sense at that particular

Bob Gaydos: moment.

Uh, absolutely. That’s the premise of what we’re trying to do, but it is different, right? They’re used to saying one thing once a year, it’s open enrollment time. Right.

William Tincup: And that’s, and that’s not even done well, but

Bob Gaydos: yes. Yeah, exactly. And our message to them is Look, the way to take care of these people, the secret to take care of these people, is in the data.

And the data is right there. You, you’ve got the data on who these people are. You know who the single mothers are, you know who the parents are, you know who the empty nesters are, right? And we should be doing targeted messaging to them to let them know what’s important to them. To your point, right? Um, if they open up an email on their 30 year old single mother and it’s two old people, that’s not an email meant for them, right?

Right. It’s speaking to them, speaking to them, showing a product that’s important to them to understand. Um, and it’s in the [00:16:00] data and, but it, but it does mean changing the way you view communication, right? Um, targeted Targeted communication to the employees. And they have, what I’m finding is that’s a new thought for employers.

That’s a new thought for HR, but that is the secret to the success, not just in your benefits, but even in retention and recruiting. It’s like, no, you, the data tells you who these people are. Target to them based on that. Okay, whatever those benefits are. And I think a lot of that will come down to these lifestyle accounts.

Like I said, I really think these lifestyle accounts are going to be a big part of the future where you can say, I’m going to give you a sum of money and I’m going to put up some stuff that you can go look at and you can buy what’s important to you. You can take my money and buy what’s important to you because, you know, you’re very, all of you are different in different places in your life, different families, whatever.

Um, but the data tells you what to do. [00:17:00] And they’re just not used to using that data and doing any targeted messaging out to them. Yeah.

William Tincup: And again, that open enrollment, that one size fits all communication strategy, get everybody on the same page. And then, and then again, it’s still confusing as all get out, um, because we’re using the, uh, we’re using the insurance terms, not necessarily terms that people’s plans be.

Uh, Well,

Bob Gaydos: let’s spend a minute talking about just open enrollment itself. The shortcut for underwriting. Okay, the fact of the matter is that if, if it, if we get to the point, and I believe we will, where all of the insurances are using big data and instant decision, then open enrollment becomes meaningless.

That’s right. And then you, and we can get out of this cycle, um, and let them buy whatever benefits they want anytime they want, right? Because the only, the only reason we have open [00:18:00] enrollment is because it was a shortcut path to underwriting people. That’s it. Right,

William Tincup: right. Let’s create a False moment where we can get everybody together, do everything at one time, December 31st, July 31st, whatever the bit was, get everybody in a room, make this decision, great, we don’t have to talk about it

Bob Gaydos: until next year.

Well, you know, it’s funny as you go back into prior, prior to early 90s. Um, when health, all health insurance, certainly below 50 was underwriting and no one, and everybody was okay with that. Okay. Right. There was no guaranteed issue, but I’m not saying that was right. I’m just saying it was okay with it.

You didn’t have open enrollment. Okay. , no. People bought, people bought the products they wanted when they wanted, and yeah. And they just, they just filled out applications and went through underwriting. There was, there wasn’t this insanity. I remember when the move happened and how crazy it became when all of a sudden we were trying to do everything in a 45 day period.


William Tincup: Right. Right. Right. Right. With, uh, let’s see, uh, 70, 000 employees. Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s [00:19:00] do that. Okay. Two questions. One is, when you get to show people, or your team gets to show people, uh, Pandela for the first time, what’s, what’s your favorite part?

Bob Gaydos: Like, what do you know? Oh, there’s no question that demoing the application is wonderful.

People, they’re like, cause when we demo the application and they see that somebody can literally buy a million dollar policy, totally issued in six minutes, they’re like, holy cow. That’s amazing. That’s great. That’s amazing. That’s great. It’s, it’s really that easy? Yes. Yeah.

William Tincup: Yeah. It really is that easy. Uh, but wait, there’s more.

Um, the, uh, I love that. Um, and then that’s their response as well, because then when they see that, they’re like, Oh my God, I hadn’t, hadn’t even contemplated that this happens as fast or could happen as fast.

Bob Gaydos: Yeah. We love to, you know, we love to watch. Cause we see, see on a platform throughout the day, we love to see how many people [00:20:00] look, that guy just got through in three minutes.

That was like the fastest ever

William Tincup: yet. Yeah. Boop. Done. That just happened. All right. Um, and the, and the second question is around customer success stories without names, brands and stuff like that, but just people that maybe were a little skeptical or cynical and then all of a sudden turn this on and it just changed everyone’s lives.

Bob Gaydos: Yeah, we, well, I will say this, I mean, most of our early traffic, early success here has been in the PEO marketplace. And we have, uh, absolutely seen that success of like, it’s very turnkey for the PEO. They can be up and running very quickly. Right. Um, and we do everything for them. Right. We, we take care of announcement emails and all of that, and it is very painless.

And they’re like, holy cow, that was way easier than I thought it was going to be. Yeah, if you sign the contract, do a couple of things inside your platform, you’re up and running and we take care of everything else. Um, and then you’ve [00:21:00] got those success stories of people telling you that, boy, he’s got an individual plan.

I’ll tell you what, it’s amazing to me, the number of people that, cause they, they, They still talk. We have agents and they chat with us and talk to us. Of course. The bulk of them are, one of the biggest things we hear is, I didn’t know that my group wasn’t portable. I thought it could come. Uh

William Tincup: huh. Uh huh.

They find out, they find

Bob Gaydos: out too late. That’s right. Um, when we run email campaigns and tell them, you know, the group is great, but it’s not portable. This is portable. It’s yours. You own it. You can take it with them. We get very high open rates and very high click through rates with those because then they’re chatting going, I didn’t know I couldn’t take my group with me.

Yeah, I need, I need an individual plan that I can take with me. Because again, we live in a different world. This is not my father’s world where people never talked about leaving their employer. They thought they, they wanted to be there for a generation. We all know we’re going to leave and go someplace in a couple of years, right?

That’s just the way the world works today, right? And so knowing, [00:22:00] having the financial security of knowing that I was able to get an individual policy from this employer and I own it and it’s mine, that’s, that’s a lot of peace of mind.

William Tincup: Love it. Man, this has been great. Uh, Bob, thank you so much for carving out time for the audience, for myself, and it just got school in us.

I appreciate

Bob Gaydos: it. You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

William Tincup: Absolutely. And thanks everyone for listening until next time.

The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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