The insurance industry, and health in particular, is at an inflection point, with the fallout from Covid-19 helping to accelerate a series of defining behavioural trends. The growth of digital and on-demand services has forever changed what consumers expect from their health insurers – with demand surging for a more holistic experience that couples ongoing wellness support with intuitive technology.
Here, Deborah Stafford-Watson, Head of Provocation & Strategy UK at Elmwood shares her thoughts on why insurtech is the new frontier for proactive lifetime wellness.
Just as legacy banks are losing out to fintech challengers, those health insurance brands that fail to adapt in this fast-developing sphere stand to lose the spoils. The global health insurance market is predicted to be worth over $653 billion in 2025, at an impressive CAGR of 13.7%. But this upward growth curve is open only to those contenders savvy enough to evolve their brands beyond the traditional – and increasingly limited – model of insurance provision.
For incumbents and startups alike, the mark of a progressive health insurance player is now whether they can gain the trust of customers with a more meaningful, consumer-led experience. This will require companies to reframe what their brand is about and its role in people’s lives, and ensure this is reflected across their entire product service and proposition.
As consumers feel better understood and supported, health insurance provision then becomes less a product and more of a destination for lifetime wellness. Here’s how both incumbent and challenger brands in this space can break ahead to reach that balance.
Insurtech and the human touch
The interest in developing health insurance as a consumer proposition is intensifying and technology is a huge part of the new offering, providing rich new channels for brands to communicate with customers and provide meaningful value. This represents a win-win for both sides. Insurance companies get to adopt technology that promotes wellness and reduces the number of claims they have to deal with; customers get access to technology that reduces their premiums and maximises their wellness.
Clever technology alone is not enough, however. Health insurance companies must become brands that celebrate human connection and make their customers feel like more than just a number. This can be done by designing hallmarks into the brand. For example, pet insurance provider Waggel, uses the name of its customers’ pets for the policy number. Home insurance startup, Urban Jungle, uses comedic value to lighten and poke fun at the insurance industry, helping to humanise itself and better relate with customers.
The rise of telemedicine is also offering the opportunity to establish more of a human connection, particularly in helping to bring people and healthcare professionals together. Insurance giant Axa Health for example offers its [email protected] service, which allows customers to book video appointments with GPs anywhere in the world. Telehealth startup, PlushCare, also offers easy access to doctors via a simple app. After appointments, PlushCare also sends prescriptions directly to the nearest pharmacy for easy pickup.
Empower and inform
If health insurance companies want to earn their customer’s trust and build a more meaningful relationship, clarity and transparency needs to be built into their brand values and approach, something that has often been lacking in the insurance world. French insurtech startup Alan, which recently raised a $220 million funding round, is a good example of how this can be achieved. Its goal is to empower and inform its customers by making health insurance as simple as subscribing to a Software-as-a-Service product, starting with clear pricing and transparent reimbursement policies.
Content is another powerful tool for informing and empowering customers to help establish and maintain deeper connections. Online insurance broker Anorak has built a website that is packed with detailed guides and insider tips to help customers make informed decisions about the cover that they need. Blogs, vlogs and polished social posts can all be used in combination to talk about health in the widest context possible. The goal here is to humanise your insurance brand with a curated health experience that is rooted in meaning and lasting impact.
Build a brand ecosystem
Companies in this space need to move from being insurance-first brands to becoming health-first brands, where proactive wellness takes centre stage. Understanding the health & wellness ecosystem and curating services and offers for your customers has become essential for adding the value that people now expect from their chosen insurer. Building partnerships with like-minded brands helps to not only attract new customers but retain existing ones in an increasingly competitive environment.
The quantified self-movement enabled by wearable technology, where people are taking greater charge of their own healthcare, offers particularly fertile ground for partnerships. Private medical insurance provider Vitality, for instance, offers discounts on monthly payments for a range of fitness trackers to customers if certain activity levels are met. UnitedHealthcare, the world’s largest health insurance company, recently announced that its members will get free access to the online fitness platform, Apple Fitness +.
Beyond fitness trackers, health insurers could potentially strike partnerships with new healthtech players that are pioneering everything from digital triage to voice analysis that can detect Parkinson’s.
From healthcare cover to holistic wellness
A combination of external forces – including the pandemic and the growth of wearable technologies – has dramatically altered the parameters of the health insurance industry over the past 18 months, with a fresh focus on wellness and proactive healthcare now taking centre stage. The biggest challenge in making this transition will be trust. Our health data is some of the most private information we hold, and insurance companies – whether startups or incumbents looking to pivot towards new technologies – are going to have to go out of their way to build brand credibility with their new customers to achieve success.
By thinking creatively around products that consumers in a self-care era want and need, smart insurers can craft the foundations of a deep and lasting relationship with their audiences. Building partnerships with relevant organisations is also key to enabling consumers to manage their healthcare more proactively than ever before. This, in turn, will build up insurers’ defences, making them less vulnerable to incoming winds at a time of relentless and fast-paced change.