(MetLife Infinity exemplifies value-added services to enhance customer engagement. Source: MetLife.)
Smart devices, sensors, and the Internet of Things are having a direct impact on the insurance business and will continue this trend in 2016. But the focus on insurance innovation and disruptive startups will bring some indirect change to the forefront as well. Not every new technology or company of interest to the insurance industry needs to be tied to the insurance products themselves. In fact, much of the focus in 2016 and beyond will be on ancillary services and products that surround insurance and make the overall experience better for a consumer.
An example is MetLife’s Infinity, an app that helps an individual create a kind of virtual lockbox of photos and experiences, a legacy to leave behind. Unlike telematics or smart devices that help assess or prevent risk, this isn’t a product that has any real impact to the core insurance products being sold by the carrier. But, along with the insurance product, it expands the overall experience of working with that insurer, making the life insurance just one component of the relationship.
The limited interactions between policyholders and their carriers has always been a problem in the space, especially because the transactions that do occur have negative associations (paying bills or filing a claim after an accident or death). By pairing insurance products with additional services, the insurer creates new channels for an ongoing conversation, and one that can be tied to lots of positive factors.
There are plenty of third-party vendors who are working on apps or portals or other technology that will have these kind of tangential ties to the insurance business—including a company called everplans that looks much like an expanded version of MetLife’s Infinity app. These companies include offerings like home concierge services, exercise and workout tracking, and smart lighting systems for offices. Some of these apps or products might impact the risk profile of a user or provide a data feed to the insurer that can be used for better demographic management, but others will merely enhance the overall experience.
Owning the Customer Relationship
If insurers aren’t considering this kind of broadened experience, be warned that these third-party companies definitely have it on their radar. In the future, these types of services will be bundled together with insurance. It will either be insurers who come to the marketplace with additional tools and enhancements as free or discounted add-ons, or if will be the third-party companies including bundled insurance as part of their product. The customer won’t necessarily care whose brand takes the lead in the marketing and sales channel, but insurance companies should want to be the ones owning that relationship.
Marketing departments at insurance companies have long referred to insurance as an “experience product.” By looking to these broader arenas, whether by building them internally or partnering with third-party companies, insurers have an opportunity to make that statement truer than ever.
Editor’s note: This is the second article in a series of three. See the first part here.