Creating a Better Experience for Insurance.

How insurance companies can create solutions to build engagement and long-term customer loyalty?

Insurance is a strange business. Clients are buying insurance in case of something they wish will never happen. Or as a form of a long term investment. Or because they are obliged by the law to have it. Either way there’s a feeling of paying for something and receiving nothing tangible in return. There are no frequent, positive, enjoyable or meaningful interactions between insurance companies and their clients. And when there is an interaction it is often in a sad circumstances of an accident or illness.

Digital initiatives by insurance companies are mostly concerned with selling and claims, and not much in between. But we think there are many possibilities for Value Added Services in insurance to make insurance companies a more helpful presence in their clients’ everyday lives. It’s a way to build a deeper connection with a brand. Otherwise insurers are in a trap of competing on price only, and maybe on quality of their services  —  but most opinions found online will be bad, because unhappy customers are the most likely to share their views.

Here’s a few ideas.

Connected Car and Helping Drivers.

In 2013 we came up with an idea for a device that can connect virtually any car to the Internet. Our earliest concept was that this device, connected to a cloud, could predict a case of a breakdown of a car, then contact the driver and send a repair vehicle perfectly adapted to remove the discovered failure. We presented this concept to the largest insurance company in Poland  —  PZU, they became interested, and PZU Drive was born.

It was quite an innovative idea back then. In fact PZU Drive was nominated for Cannes Lions Innovation Awards in 2013.

We have prototyped this device and tested it in the cars of the PZU employees.

Our early prototype of PZU Drive device
Our early prototype of PZU Drive device

Since then we went through many iterations, many different concepts, and researches with customers, and we have learned a lot.

Design of PZU Drive device.
Design of PZU Drive device

Today pay as you drive or usage-based insurance is not uncommon, however services like PZU Drive can also work without being tied to an insurance product (or if it is just an option).

For insurance companies a wireless device plugged into a car can be a source of valuable data, and accompanying mobile app presenting data to the drivers can be a new channel of frequent communication with customers. The device can be offered for free with a car insurance and as a standalone paid product for clients of other insurers.

There is a lot of benefits a service like that can bring to the users:

  • The app can be a virtual coach teaching users how to drive better, offering feedback about their driving style and presenting helpful tips. There are many possible dimensions to measure, like safety, eco-driving, or taking care of the vehicle.
  • It can show users how much money they can save by improving their driving style (by using less fuel or less wear-and-tear issues).
  • It can present interesting statistics about users’ performance and vehicle usage in comparison to other drivers. This experience can be gamified  —  users can see their improvement in time and compete with their friends. And of course insurers can give rewards to the best drivers, and introduce new competitions and activations from time to time.
  • The app can present diagnostics information about the car and call assistance in case of a breakdown.
  • It can help users guard their parked cars. The device can periodically check and share location of the vehicle to the app, so the user can monitor that his vehicle is OK. The app can inform the user that her parked car has been bumped by some other car, or stolen. And it can help to locate the vehicle if the user forgot where he parked it.
  • And many more…

It is worth to notice that many useful features are possible only with GPS-tracking, but we found out that a lot of customers are concerned about their privacy and don’t want to have their location tracked continuously.

Preventive Health Services and Quantified Self.

Some drivers may want to put some additional sensors in their cars, but many people already wear sensors on their bodies to monitor their health and physical activity  —  fitness bands, smartwatches, or just mobile phones. The fact that no global insurance company had created a service competitive to Endomondo, Nike+, FitBit, or Strava, says a lot about industry’s digital maturity. Healthy customers are the best customers for insurance companies and having a channel of frequent communications with health-conscious people, and actual data about their physical activity, would be extremely valuable for insurers.

What if your insurance company gave you a fitness band (in their brand colors) as a physical gadget added as a bonus to your life insurance policy? Something to remind you everyday that your insurance company cares about your health and you should too?

It can be something like Xiaomi MiBand 2 fitness band, which retail price is only $20, and it can monitor activity, heart rate, and sleep.

Xiaomi MiBand
Xiaomi MiBand

But more important than a band is a mobile app to accompany it. Most popular fitness apps are targeted at semi-professional athletes or users aspiring to become one. With their wellness apps insurers can target more casual users and even users who are seldom doing sports.

The app can monitor steps, exercise and stand-up time, sleep, weight (via HealthKit or Google Fit), and many others parameters. It can even measure work-life balance with the use of geofencing (how much time user is spending at the office and elsewhere). It can present environmental data like air pollution and allergy forecasts. It can motivate users to be more active and reinforce healthy habits. It can reward users for activity and inform them about their progress.

With an app like that the insurer has an opportunity to throw in little bits of educational content about insurance from time to time, to upsell new products to existing clients, and try to gain interest of prospects.

Many insurance companies are also offering medical services, which bring another angle to our app  —  for example automatic notifications about routine recommended medical examinations based on user’s sex and age.

Assistance in Everyday Life.

Another way for insurance companies to be more frequently present in their clients’ lives is through Assistance.

Customers call their Assistance maybe once a year, and 2/3 of Assistance holders never do it. People are often simply not sure what they can demand from their Assistance. In Poland less than half of Assistance holders declare that they’ve read General Terms and Conditions of Insurance and 25% declare that they never read it (according to VIIth Polish Nationwide Assistance Research”).

Now let’s imagine a mobile Assistance app that is designed like a restaurant menu — with a clear list of all the available services. Tap on the icon for a service to read more about it, and you can order it straight away. The app will locate you and call for help.

Services can be (mostly) free for the Assistance card holders, and paid for other users. If you’re not a client you can pay for a one-time service or become a client by buying a one-year Assistance card and have a service for free. In any case the insurer is a guarantee of quality.

Our concept of an Assistance mobile app
Our concept of an Assistance mobile app

According to the previously mentioned survey, while the Roadside Assistance is still the most popular (85%), a lot of people find other types of Assistance useful:

  • Medical Assistance  - 63%
  • Travel Assistance  -  55%
  • Home Assistance (help of a plumber, locksmith, electrician, etc.)  -  24%

And this can be a good opportunity for insurance companies —  why not become “an Uber of Assistance””? ;)

Author: Maciej Lipiec