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31 Aug 15 20:21

Would you join a club no one belonged to? I didn’t think so. Then why do we continue to talk about all the people who don’t have life insurance? Sure, the protection gap in the United States is huge and a compelling story, but is that the right message to attract people to buy life insurance?

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, and we at Swiss Re are proposing a different tack. Let’s talk about the reasons why people do have life insurance. Let’s celebrate those who spend a few extra bucks a month to ensure their families can still enjoy a quality life should the unexpected happen. Let’s tell those stories.

Let’s 'flip the script' on life insurance, change the conversation.

We have a lot of data, tons of surveys and focus groups that tell us how to motivate consumers, and we communicate with them based on that data.

But too often we marginalize the human side. That’s where behavioral economics comes in. Before you say “Here he goes, pitching another actuarial tool,” let me explain how behavioral economics is really just common sense. It brings us back to the human element and helps us rethink what drives people’s actions.

What we're learning is that we need to make the life insurance decision easy, attractive, social and timely:

- Easy: Use a simple message. Shorten the application. Give them an opportunity to purchase at the same time they’re doing something they need to do. In other countries you can apply for a life policy when you make a bank deposit or get your driver’s license. Why not in the US?

- Attractive: Cost isn’t the only incentive. How often do you say “the cheaper it is, the more I’ll buy?” We need to deliver an immediate benefit. For example, share some of the data we collect at underwriting with applicants so they can start making healthier lifestyle choices.

- Social: We generally like to do things others are doing. Talk about who has life insurance instead of how many people don’t. Talk about how many people made a claim on their policy last year or how many people retain their policy at renewal. Even if the numbers aren’t as big as we’d like, they are still large numbers and need to be promoted.

- Timely: Catch people at the right time. We’re much more receptive to new ideas and changing our habits when we’re already engaged or our habits have been disrupted anyway. We need to think about where in the conversation (or at what time in a person’s life) do we bring up the behavior we want them to change.

These are just some of our ideas we're investigating. How would you flip the script on the life insurance conversation? We want to hear from you.

Category: Funding longer lives: Health/medicine


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