Let the Games Begin! Customers Love Them

How insurers can use gamification to bolster customer experience, keep and win new clients with external and intrinsic motivation.


People love to play games. And gamification can help carriers leverage behavioral psychology to increase sales and reduce customer churn — especially as people buy more insurance online. 

Carriers that have adopted gamification in their marketing strategies are already experiencing the benefits. For instance, Aetna, a health insurer, saw a 50% increase in healthy behaviors from their clients after implementing gamification techniques companywide. 

What Is Gamification?

Gamification refers to the use of game design elements to improve customer experience and customer engagement. They can include quizzes, contests, point systems and leaderboards.

Gamification can make tedious processes fun! Some of the best ways to gamify your customers’ interactive experience include: 

Several insurance companies have adopted gamification in their marketing strategies. Some of the most common applications of gamification in insurance include: 

  • Educating customers on products/services 
  • Simplifying complex processes 
  • Promoting innovative business models 
  • Promoting the company’s brand 
  • Promoting awareness for healthy behavior 

Gamification in Insurance

Lead Generation 

Some insurers are using gamification to educate clients on their products. Carriers can facilitate this by creating gamification systems and applications that provide customers with information about the different insurance plans available to them. 

For example, Tryg, a Danish insurer, created a quiz about dental health. The quiz was intended to generate leads for their outbound team and increase awareness of their dental insurance products. The test had five teeth-related questions, such as, can white wine stain your teeth the same way red wine can, etc. 

The quiz produced 595 leads, and a 29% conversion rate for those who completed it. Those who participated were informed beforehand they’d receive a call from Tryg’s outbound team, who answered questions about their products and gathered even more leads. 

This method of gamification taps into the user’s emotions by making them feel like they have accomplished something by completing the quiz while the insurer promotes their brand and educates clients on their products/services. 

See also: Gamification: Key to Engaging Sales Force

Encouraging Healthy Living

Gamification can also influence people to change their behavior for the better by raising awareness for healthy behavior. 

For example, UnitedHealthcare, a health and life insurance company, created a program called “UnitedHealthcare Motion” that uses a gamification app to help companies improve the health and well-being of their employees. 

Each plan member is given an activity tracker and an app to record their daily activity. The app is personalized using local maps so users can know what 10,000 steps look like. If an employee meets their daily walking goals, they get an opportunity to earn $1,000 for out-of-pocket medical expenses. 

UnitedHealthcare’s gamification is successful because it generates competition and accomplishment among the users who meet their goals and allows the users to progress over time. 

Building Brand Affinity 

Some insurers are even integrating branded elements with existing games and applications to increase brand affinity with a new user base. 

For example, Farmers Insurance Group, a home, auto and life insurance company, integrated a Farmers-branded blimp to Zynga’s popular FarmVille simulation game. In the FarmVille game, each user is given a virtual farm with crops to protect and harvest. 

The carrier-branded blimp can help protect players’ crops from withering away. Thanks to one retro-pixelated blimp, the Farmers brand is now associated with the concept of protection -- in a fun way -- in the minds of countless players.

This is an excellent example of how insurers can use gamification to their advantage without creating an entire system or application from scratch. 

Tapping Intrinsic Motivation

Insurance companies need to understand how gamification can influence emotions and behavior. 

Psychologists point to two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

  • Intrinsic motivation occurs when we perform an activity for our internal satisfaction and internal rewards rather than material rewards. 
  • Extrinsic motivation happens when we complete a task based on external causes, such as avoiding punishment or receiving a reward. 

While extrinsic motivation is helpful in the short term, intrinsic motivation produces more lasting results. 

When customers are intrinsically motivated through personalized gamification strategies, they are more likely to have long-term loyalty and be satisfied. This is because intrinsic motivation goes beyond points and badges; it affects a user’s sense of competence and self-efficacy. 

For example, suppose an auto insurer created a customer engagement/road safety awareness program where users track their driving behavior through telematics. The insurer could identify hazardous driving behaviors the user shows and improve their safety based on the data. In that case, gamification ultimately affects intrinsic motivation because the user's action is motivated by the internal satisfaction of driving more safely, continuing to best himself and potentially lowering his premiums.

Creating a Meaningful Gamification System

Scott Nicholson, an author and professor of game design and development at Wilfrid Laurier University, says scoring systems are based on assumptions and biases of businesses that created the game. To create a gamification system that has long-term success, carriers must generate games that connect with users’ goals and values. 

For example, people have different priorities when it comes to their health. Insureds experiencing high levels of stress might find more value in a game that rewards them for meditation. Overweight customers might prioritize a game that encourages them to exercise daily. By adding options to the game, insureds can focus on areas that are most important to them and establish a more prosperous relationship with their carrier. 

See also: Building Healthy Workplaces

Get in the Game 

Insurers need to understand how gamification can help customers stay engaged, understand insurance products better, lower their premiums and improve their lives all at the same time. As insurance becomes more digitized, carriers should experiment with gamification across their digital properties to better connect with customers. With gamification, they can better understand what customers want and simplify complex processes to speed purchasing of insurance products. 

Of course, insurers also need modern systems for underwriting, rating and processing new and renewal business before committing to gamification.  Without state-of-the art internal systems, gamification is more likely to fizzle than sizzle and frustrate rather than entice.

Michael de Waal

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Michael de Waal

Mike de Waal is president and founder of Global IQX, a leading software provider of web-based sales and service solutions to employee benefits insurers.


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