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10 Dec. 2018 | Comments (0)

Technology and financial services have had a long, productive relationship.  Some of the earliest adopters of modeling were actuaries in insurance companies.  But how do you make life insurance fun and engaging for consumers?  Brooks Tingle, President and CEO of John Hancock Insurance, spoke at the recent Customer Experience Conference on how John Hancock uses technology and consumer insights to enhance and innovate the customer experience in life insurance.

Life insurance is a product that consumers know they probably should buy, but from which they get no personal enjoyment. Consumers generally have two interactions a year with their life insurance provider: the required annual privacy statement and the bill. Not exactly engaging. 

How could John Hancock increase its customer interactions in a way that would engage and benefit consumers? The company launched a technology-based wellness program called Vitality that helps customers understand and improve their health, set health goals, and receive rewards for achieving them.

The following insights drove John Hancock Vitality’s development:

  • Consumers want wellness but find it difficult to change their behavior. They need incentives to help them.
  • Consumers’ behavior changes can and do affect health. Being healthier is obviously better for the consumer; it’s better for the life insurance company as well.
  • Any consumer program should be seamless and easy to access, or consumers will not use it.

How Vitality works

Since consumers need to undergo a physical exam to buy life insurance, their health status and statistics can be automatically and directly input into Vitality. They can opt to wear a Fitbit or Apple watch to monitor their behavior, and they download a mobile app to monitor buying healthy foods. Participating retailers such as Walmart flag the good-for-you products at the shelf, and participants get a discount.

Participants earn points that can lead to savings on insurance premiums or even hotel stays. On reaching certain goals, consumers spin the Vitality wheel on the app to see what reward they have achieved. These small rewards are one of the most frequently mentioned “likes” of the program.

Though actual return on the Vitality investment by John Hancock will not be known for decades, consumer response has been extremely positive. Brooks cited metrics showing that 89% of buyers prefer John Hancock Vitality over traditional life insurance. Some 70% of buyers are more motivated to purchase life insurance after reading a description of John Hancock Vitality. In particular, diabetics are very interested in the program. Someone even called a call center to ask for the “Apple Watch insurance.”  Vitality members take nearly twice as many steps as the average American. In addition, they have enjoyed millions in rewards and provided John Hancock with opportunities to cross and upsell.

In short, Vitality moved many consumers from two dull annual interactions to 500+ fun ones per year. Not bad for an innovation in life insurance.

  • About the Author: John Forsyth

    John Forsyth

    John Forsyth is currently partner of Forsyth Insights LLC, a consumer insights boutique. He has worked in most industries, though he specializes in consumer goods/electronics, retail, and pharmaceutic…

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