(Foresters Go app. Image source: Foresters Financial.)
Foresters Financial, a 148-year-old Toronto-based fraternal organization that markets life insurance in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., is on a quest to redefine life insurance as a collaborative endeavor focused not simply on financial well-being, but on holistic well-being in a community setting. In September 2021, the firm reached a milestone with the launch of Foresters Go app, an engagement platform built in partnership with dacadoo (Zurich). This week, Foresters added to the app a “Purpose and Community” feature, enabling members to earn Rewards Points for engaging in volunteerism, mentoring, environmental initiatives and for organizing activities for needy communities.
“We have included the Purpose and Community feature within Foresters Go as a natural extension of our mission to enrich the well-being of our members and their communities,” comments Louis Gagnon, President and CEO, Foresters Financial. “Recent studies have concluded that volunteering is good for your health. It reduces your stress, anger and anxiety, helps you stay physically healthy, and makes you happier. With Foresters Go, we can inspire our members to volunteer knowing they will enjoy the many benefits that come with giving back.”
Foresters Go provides a scalable way for all members to engage with the company and each other, tracking their wellness activities and participating in challenges with other members to improve their health and well-being and earn rewards, according to Matt Berman, President of Foresters Financial Life Insurance in the U.S.
The app interacts with the benefits portfolio created by the company’s membership office, and which now includes not only the opportunity to engage in and track personal wellness activities individually and in supportive “challenges” with others, but also to pursue community-related projects. By engaging in various activities, members earn Rewards Points that can be redeemed by purchasing items online or donating to charity.
“Two of our most popular member benefits at Foresters are the Community Volunteer grant and Foresters Care grant,” comments Nicole Gourley, Chief Membership Officer at Foresters. “As a fraternal life insurer, we want to support our members contributions to their communities, she says. By providing grants to fund our members’ volunteer activities, we’re inspiring them to make a difference while earning Rewards Points that they can use to reward themselves. With the Purpose and Community feature, we’re motivating members to focus on their health through diet and physical activity, while inducing a positive mindset through the act of giving back.”
Differentiating a Commoditized Product
Conceived of as a benefit to be paid on the policyholder’s death, life insurance easily becomes commoditized to the consumer, Foresters’ Berman notes. “Life insurance as a construct has been about delivering long-duration promises—and that’s the core of our value,” he explains. “However, we believe that promise we deliver shouldn’t be limited to the time of claims. Life insurance can be for the living—it can be utilized throughout the duration of contract by members.”
By engaging with members, Foresters provides genuine benefit in a variety of ways, not least in fostering the kind of well-being that extends both the duration and quality of life. But in creating a benefits ecosystem and engagement platform, the company creates even greater value, according to Berman. “We firmly believe we should have greater continuity in the value we provide, and we know this can have real practical value beyond engagement and good will with member,” he says.
From Engagement to Innovation Platform
In the world of pen-and-paper, engagement between life insurer and policyholder essentially ends with the signing of the contract and only restarts with a claim. In the world of electronic communications, the potential exists for various kinds of engagement over a period of decades. During that time, Berman notes, the individual policyholder will change in terms of health and behavioral attributes. And that’s where a platform such as Foresters Go has the potential to go beyond simple engagement—as important a step that may be in altering the life insurance paradigm—and into not only richer forms of engagement but to an open-ended approach to product innovation.
As an example, Berman notes that Foresters can underwrite the risk of an individual living with Type 2 diabetes. Knowing more about the individual can supply the basis for designing a more dynamic product that incentivizes a healthier lifestyle.
“The connective tissue we have put into our ecosystem gives us a better view into how our members are doing, and we can weave this into our products,” Berman explains. “With members’ consent, we can engage with then at various stages of their life, allowing us to create a variety of products down the road.”