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Q&A with Allstate Benefits
President David Essary

At Allstate Benefits, our employees are dedicated to providing product solutions and continuous support to our valued customers, including brokers, employers and their employees.

And no one embodies this dedication more than Allstate Benefits President David Essary. Since joining the company in 2021, David has established a strong foundation based on product and technology innovation, broad internal collaboration and our Shared Purpose.

We recently sat down with David to learn more about his work and what drives him to continue delivering on the Good Hands® promise every day.

Headshot of Allstate Benefits President David Essary

What inspired you to follow the career path you have in healthcare and insurance?

My original attraction to insurance was the stability and opportunity the industry could provide. For healthcare, I believe my innate drive to always want to make things better drove me to interest in telehealth, as I saw the improvement in access and affordability that medium would provide as an early adopter. The more work I did in and around healthcare, the opportunity for improvement and innovation became clear.

Over the past five years or so, I started to see a convergence of innovation in both insurance and healthcare and the impact each has on the other. I tend to look at the future of business as puzzle pieces and do my best to assess which pieces fit together, and the outcome that connection will have.

You have a record of harnessing technology to help employers better support their employees. How is Allstate Benefits working to do this under your guidance?

We are in a total digital transformation in every aspect of our business. Part of the journey is helping guide a digital mindset culture, recognizing that technology is only as good as the people who power it, and connecting "why" we are going through such incredible measures of change to our core purpose, which is being the best Allstate Benefits we can be in our customers' time of need.

I believe as we stay true to that core purpose, it makes the adoption of new tech easier to connect to business outcomes and instills in our employees an innovation mindset as well, looking for ways to improve all that we do. We should never feel like this work to improve and innovate is done.

Certainly, there are major milestones that you achieve that should be recognized and celebrated, and then continue to think deeply about how we can get better each day with the tools we have and explore others we have yet to implement.

What are some of the newest product innovations happening at Allstate Benefits?

Like our technology transformation, product innovation is being pushed by a changing marketplace. The diversity of age groups within the workplaces we serve, their differing needs, how we work (remote/hybrid), COVID impact on benefit utilization...all these and more are driving us to constantly assess what is important to our end customer, make sure we create a development cycle and ecosystem that can adapt to more frequent marketplace change and think outside the box as it relates to the future of benefits and benefit utilization.

Examples of this we have in flight today include a focus on meeting the access and affordability challenges of behavioral health support, addressing the growing interest in pet health, providing access to affordable caregiving support for employees and their families, and, most importantly, making sure we drive the highest degree of value in the products we sell.

"From my perspective, our biggest differentiator is the team of professionals we have driving product decisions across our three distinct markets: group health, individual health and voluntary or supplemental benefits."

What does value mean to us? It's making sure that employees are utilizing the benefits we sell to them, that they perceive Allstate Benefits as the leader in meeting them where they are by addressing their current needs like those mentioned above in easy-to-purchase and easy-to-understand methods.

This also means adopting a mindset of continuous improvement in our current offerings, not just new products. From my perspective, our biggest differentiator is the team of professionals we have driving product decisions across our three distinct markets: group health, individual health and voluntary or supplemental benefits. We have a great new leader, Lindsey Murray, and brilliant minds like Dan Ziebell and Jeff Koll tying our business strategies and customer needs into innovative product enhancements that will position us as the product innovation leader in the markets we serve.

What would you say sets Allstate Benefits apart most from competitors?

Two things are top of mind: our people and our brand. You can have the greatest strategies, the latest technology, timing, products and processes, but if you do not have the best team, I believe you'll never fully execute on your potential.

Each day, I'm humbled and grateful that we have the best people I've ever worked with in my 26 years in this space leading the efforts to create the carrier of the future, a new Allstate Benefits. I take my responsibility to help drive a culture for them to fully realize their potentials very seriously and am very pleased with the progress we are making to come together as one organization, driven by one core purpose.

In that same light, one of our greatest assets is the Allstate brand. It is a distinct differentiator in all markets we serve, recognized globally as a brand of inherent quality, value and purpose. We are very cognizant of the responsibility that comes with possessing such a great asset, and that factors into all decisions we make. We will never forsake the brand responsibilities for short-term market gains, or to be opportunistic. Our customers deserve that.

How would you summarize your long-term vision for Allstate Benefits?

We will become the leader in providing the highest value products to our customers through continuous innovation, returning to a leadership position in the supplemental benefits market by having best-in-class products and processes for our partners and employer clients, harnessing the power of our Health and Benefits offerings to become the preeminent provider of benefits to North America's small employers, and proactively addressing product needs and innovation for consumers in emerging economies, and both under 65 and 65+ via Allstate Health Solutions, our individual market unit.

We will continue to address market needs through investments and potentially, acquisitions that enhance our position with every segment of the market, from individual consumers to the world's largest employers.

We have a phenomenal starting place, the right team and the right mindset to achieve all these objectives and more. In my career I've possessed the ability to see where the market is going to be in the future and create solutions to address those future needs, pushing to be there early, if not first. I think deeply about that each day. I'm also energized by how we can draw our solutions and those of the broader Allstate enterprise more closely together to deliver the most fully capable circle of protection to each customer Allstate serves, realizing it's not just an opportunity but an obligation. I see tremendous potential on this front.

"We must create a culture that creates paths for each individual employee to expand their capabilities and experience, explore new opportunities within the enterprise, and drive diversity of perspective."

And I also have a responsibility to develop the talent necessary to carry this vision forward well beyond the near future. We must create a culture that creates paths for each individual employee to expand their capabilities and experience, explore new opportunities within the enterprise, and drive diversity of perspective. We serve a very diverse marketplace, and I am personally driven by using the power of Allstate to tackle issues such as health equity, social healthcare outcome disparity and creating better access and more affordable protection for those who tend to be marginalized by our current system—the underserved and the unserved, especially minority communities. To me, that's living our Shared Purpose to its fullest potential. This is a huge challenge but one we can impact as one Allstate Benefits.

Tell us a bit about your work as a disability & disadvantaged advocate.

First and foremost, it begins at home for me each day as a special needs dad. My beautiful 12-year-old autistic angel, Everly, drives me to be a better human each day. She has taught me a level of empathy and patience I didn't believe I had. I try to carry that forward in how I address everyone in my community, recognizing that everyone has their personal struggles, and despite our differences, we are all much more similar than we are different. I believe change comes in incremental and consistent steps. Just this simple recognition of others and their struggles will go a long way in setting a path of greater understanding and acceptance of each other and I believe make our communities and the world stronger.

I was drawn into the disability community via a client as their benefits broker in 2003, the Bobby Dodd Institute (BDI) here in Atlanta. As I saw the incredible work they did each day to provide employment opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged individuals, I was drawn into helping grow their mission, eventually joining the auxiliary board, then the main board and ultimately serving as Board Chair during a time of significant change.

Despite other business success, I am most proud of the work I've done with this organization, it's incredible staff, leadership and other board members, to grow our community impact by serving more people, expanding our services beyond the individual to the families through a merger, and positioning BDI for continued growth and amazing investments in improving the lives of those we serve.

BDI's tagline, "Illuminating the Possibilities in Disabilities," is a core belief of mine. I believe we should always focus on what someone can do, not what they can't. This work will always be a part of me, long after my work career winds down. It's one way I've found my efforts can make the world a better place, which is an investment in both my community and myself.

Follow Allstate Benefits on LinkedIn and see our post introducing David as President of Allstate Benefits.

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