In recent years, there has been a shift in the world of business, from a focus on transactions to an emphasis on relationships. Today’s companies no longer shortsightedly prioritize profits over everything else but are instead increasingly concerned with earning their consumers’ trust. Instead of simply selling consumers products, they market themselves as companies to believe in and make part of one’s life.
While this trend is evident across the business spectrum, from banking to footwear, there are some industries that should be particularly attentive to such changes and become especially in tune with the needs and wants of its customers—such as insurance. Insurance, after all, represents a relationship with policyholders and their beneficiaries, a sustained commitment to supporting them through tough times.
It is clear, however, that the financial support provided by insurance payouts, while an incredibly important lifeline to so many families, is not nearly enough in today’s relationships-centered marketplace. If insurers want to address the true needs of their customers, they need to think outside the box and provide added value.
Insurers’ customers are not just case numbers; they are human beings. And, when insurance companies acknowledge the unique needs and challenges of those they serve, often at some of the hardest times in their lives, the companies benefit themselves, as well.
Insurers can go beyond the payout
So what can insurers do to establish trust with and care for those they support?
In treating their interactions with customers not as sales but as sustained relationships, insurance companies can go beyond payouts to provide beneficiaries with real peace of mind. For example, Sensa, a car insurance company, automatically calls emergency services so that their customers have one less thing to worry about. Some car insurers have also begun offering rental reimbursement coverage, going an extra step to make sure the customer isn’t stuck without transport while waiting for claims or repairs.
Other insurance companies have incorporated clear social impact goals directly into their offerings, showing customers that their beliefs and commitments are as important to them as their financial security. Insurer Lemonade has implemented a giveback program, charging a flat fee and then giving the leftover money from claims to a charity of the customer’s choice.
See also: Focus on Evolution, Not a Revolution
Helping with the hidden costs of death
Out of the various insurance verticals, however, the one that most needs to implement such policies is life insurance. Life insurance establishes a relationship over the long term, with a promise to be there for the policyholder’s beneficiaries when they need it the most, when they are experiencing the repercussions of great loss.
Bereaved families often experience not only grief but fatigue and frustration from dealing with complex bureaucratic processes, anxiety and stress from the added financial burden and the potential for even more, including strained relationships and troubled communication.
In a recent survey of these families, we identified some of the most pressing issues they face. In total, all the logistics around a loss, including planning the funeral, paying bills and taxes, filing the will and handling probate, took an average of 420 hours, or the equivalent of 10.5 full weeks of work.
This is an area where insurers can show up for their beneficiaries in a big way. These burdens are so tough that alleviating them even a little can improve someone's outlook and peace of mind. Providing guidance, resources and tools to help beneficiaries navigate all the complexities of loss, from funeral planning to estate administration, as a supplement to insurance payouts is therefore a relatively simple and low-cost way to cement the trust and loyalty of insurance customers and their beneficiaries.
This new world of deepening reciprocity between businesses and consumers allows us to imagine a new role for insurance, one that makes good on the promise of what is, for many of us, one of the longest relationships we will have with a corporation -- a connection that doesn’t simply involve cash payouts but that directly addresses the situation of the families whose claims it is paying.
It’s the kind of pairing we expect to see more and more of in the years to come: a relationship that goes beyond the transaction, to bring families not just the money they need at a difficult time but care and support through all the things they need it for.