One of the big issues in any product design these days – and rightly so – is value-added benefits. Not whether we should offer them (we should…) but which ones, how, and how should we promote them.
To be honest, I’m not sure we’re doing a very good job just yet. We’re still too engrossed in measuring value financially and less good at asking what are we really trying to achieve? We‘re too tick boxy. Perhaps that reflects our training, experience and culture and the fact that such benefits are still at an early stage in the product mix?
To really understand the issues, we need to ask those who deliver such services for their perspective. They can often give the perspective we can’t – we’re too close to the product, not the customer – and they can offer the helicopter view our feet on the ground approach can’t match.
Jo Throp is Clinical Director at Krysalis, an organisation that is at the heart of occupational therapy and neurological rehabilitation. So put away that abacus and engross yourself in big and little V and value-based decision making…
Money and marbles – people shaped protection insurance, which pot are we topping up?
"Can I ask a favour, please?" began the conversation, "what are your thoughts on value-added benefits, how can the protection insurance industry create lifetime partnerships, help customers and what about the future?"
What I bring here is a different perspective. I am not a protection insurance specialist but what I do know about is people. I have worked with people often at their lowest point. When a neurological condition has caused them to question their future or feel like their diagnosis has taken it away.
I have learned many things working as a neurological occupational therapist for 25 years. I see that the most significant gains are made when change comes from within. So, if the protection insurance industry wants to help its customer and create lifetime partnerships, the industry itself needs to shape the future.
It is about challenging the industry's narrative. It is no longer enough to say 'we pay 90% of claims' and expect potential customers to be motivated to buy more products.
Your customers want solutions that make them feel good, fully re-assured. They want a protection product that delivers a promise of how they will be treated when they need to use it. They want to know about the money but also the value.
It is better to say if the worst happens, this is how we will treat you, and guess what? We understand that everyone has differences, but we all have shared human needs. We know this because we know about people, and it is our business to know.
Your customer's view is complex and is not about the price or the money unless communicated that way. Focus on what you can enable me to do. Give me value over time. Remember, my priorities will shift with my age and roles. My world will continue to change, perhaps even faster. Give me flexibility by default, so I feel I can trust you.
Communicating a different message will require thinking about the future design of protection products, designing from within rather than adding on.
Think about it like this.
If life, as you know it, changed tomorrow, what out of the things that you value would you miss the most? The relationships with the people closest to you? The activities you enjoy, your independence and freedom or all the above?
While the world lurches from crisis to chaos, our value systems provide scaffolding for our wellbeing and an anchor point from which to grow. There are clear links between a person's value system and how they think and feel, how and what they communicate to others, and ultimately how they act.
Central to successful neurological occupational therapy intervention is taking time to understand the value systems that influence an individual's engagement in activities and life choices.
Successful outcomes directly relate to first defining what drives that person to engage or not in activities. In the context of a life-changing diagnosis, we help individuals to explore and express their values, sometimes support them to reframe their beliefs and help them to consider how this influences their behaviour.
Understanding human value systems are not exclusively the domain of neurological rehabilitation.
Protection insurance and the values and culture of the industry itself are grounded in a long-held belief regarding what protection insurance is.
Protection insurance is about money; money is understood to be the catalyst for having a policy in the first place. Importantly though, the money provided through protection insurance only represents value, it is not value itself.
It is essential to recognise this, as it can help us all think differently about protection insurance products.
Imagine your life values as a jar of marbles. Time and experiences add value to that jar. Relationships and roles, feelings of wellbeing, good health and success at work are all forms of value.
Money is a vehicle for exchanging these different value types with one another or purchasing experiences or things that bring value.
Consider this: when the people in the protection insurance case studies talk about their protection insurance, they rarely talk about the money.
The money from a protection insurance policy helps individuals keep their marble jar topped up, although often not indefinitely.
The pot is ultimately a direct reflection of their life values, and the money is a conduit. Equally, depending on how a policy contributes to the individual's subjective value measures, it can also hold value on its own to a lesser or greater degree.
Looking at protection insurance products this way provides opportunities for insurers and distributors to lead with a different narrative.
Adopting this different narrative offers the opportunity to change the relationship dynamic and open a different conversation about the importance of insurance in another way.
Identifying shared values and adopting need-led solutions is the key to engaging individuals throughout their life journey. It is about insurance professionals leaving the consumer with a feeling.
Shared values are the gateway to trusting someone or something.
Consumer trust continues to be an ongoing hot topic of discussion in insurance. What appears to be clear is that insurers will not gain this trust by repeating the message about the percentage of claims that the industry pays out.
Theresa Wiseman from the University of Southampton is published in the concept and analysis of empathy, notably how it is recognised and measured. Her four elements of empathy include appreciating individuals as human beings, seeing their world, understanding their feelings and communicating that understanding.
This model helps us consider the actual value of value-added services, which may offer the key to addressing the issue of trust. What are the motivators that underpin the product's design as it stands now?
For example, is there greater value attributed for the insurer to value-added services if they lead to a measurable reduction in the claim size? What about those value-add services seen as a cost on the bottom line? Are current value-add offerings designed with the four elements of empathy in mind?
Insurers should consider if their protection product offers value with a small or big 'V'.
Big V offerings focus on the journey, reflect real life, and consider an individual's lived experience. Creating big V offerings will require insurers to work with experts who understand the needs of niche groups of people. In the case of Krysalis, that is the neurological population.
Designing new protection products in collaboration with clinical expert partners should be on every insurance company's plan. Such products align and reflect the changing needs of society and the individual needs of different groups of people.
Adopting this approach is better for everyone and makes commercial sense.
Specialist services help providers understand their customers’ clinical data and manage risk. They can bring a claim to life by providing context to an individual's symptoms. Specialist neurological occupational therapists, for example, can analyse the impact of the environment and other barriers that reduce potential and slow the recovery journey. This is especially important for income protection products.
In the case of more complex situations like a neurological diagnosis, if the offered value-added solutions delivered by a critical illness policy, for example, do not bring tangible help when they need it, it devalues the whole offering.
Values are the gateway to trust; trust is of paramount importance when people are in heightened levels of vulnerability, especially if we care about their experiences.
Specialist services clarify the need, clinical activity, expected duration, spend, and anticipated outcomes for insurance professionals and advisors.
For consumers, the insurer and distributor provide access to products that offer a financial cushion, meaningful support services and value-add experiences that fill the marble jar.
Creating tailored solutions could be viewed as a daunting prospect and a big ask for the industry. However, a changing health landscape is driving a transformation, and we all need to consider how we can do things differently. Collaborating with niche service providers bring clinical insights and mitigate commercial risk.
Clinical services like Krysalis work directly with claims teams and distributors. We foster communication and sharing of knowledge and insights. We develop clarity around roles, and we all learn together. This gives the whole industry more to talk about and a more confident voice. It provides opportunities for everyone to play a part in influencing change.
Our emotions are bonded to our perception of value. Feeling value is an experience that reinforces knowledge that in turn influences behaviour and action.
Value-based decision making helps us all to move forward with our goals and aspirations and could provide a catalyst for future developments and sector growth. This type of decision making is good for society and commercial businesses and will represent a win-win for everyone.
The only thing I am then left wondering is how that marble jar is coming along for your customers? It is essential because at the end of the day, in the words of Maya Angelou: "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Jo Throp, Clinical Director, Krysalis