Originally Published In AM Best in May 2017
Generally, when I write about Millennials, I’m thinking of those of us in the industry and those who we are trying to attract as new talent. There’s a whole constituency that I don’t often devote much thought to. These are our millennial consumers. There are over eighty-three million of us in the United States. Our purchasing power is growing. When I told a fellow millennial that I was writing about Millennials and insurance, his response was “that sounds awful. Do Millennials even need insurance? How did you get roped into that?” Clearly, he doesn’t know me very well. I love insurance, and I spend an inordinate amount of time writing and thinking about it. But it got me thinking: if this is my friend’s response, why is that?
There are three main reasons that come to mind: our reputation has a stodgy industry, a lack of understanding of our industry, and a perception of insurance as something that their parents deal with. When Millennials think of insurance, they think of a sales pitch or maybe even a claims horror story. Often, the best we can hope for is that it calls to mind a funny ad about how they can save money if they check out a new provider. Those of us in the industry know that insurance is much more than this, and we know that most claims stories are, if not touching, at least stories of satisfaction and a policyholder getting back to their day to day life. As Millennials age, they will have more to lose, and they will need to purchase their own insurance. How can we connect with them so that they feel like informed consumers? We are a generation accustomed to researching our purchases online before shelling out our hard-earned money. We use services like Airbnb, Uber, and Etsy all the time and enjoy feeling a personal connection to the person or company that we’re buying our goods from. Further, we embrace companies, like Toms and Warby Parker, that are using their profits to improve the world.
Insurance companies and agents already know that their business is based on relationships, and many of them spend a good deal of time and money giving back to the community. In order to spread this message to Millennial consumers and potential talent, we ought to embrace Transparency. Our intangible products are challenging to understand, and our processes are complex. Devoting some energy to de-mystifying what goes on behind our doors would help Millennials connect with us.
Most of us are probably familiar with Lemonade’s Transparency Chronicles at this point. This is a genius tactic both for attracting talent and attracting and retaining consumers. Sharing information in a fun and relatable manner will make those purchasing the product feel like they have a connection to an intangible product and attract talent who feel they can understand and improve on the work being done. The tone of the blog helps to humanize the work being done. They are openly sharing things about policy language as they learn them. As they have said, they are a tech company doing insurance, and they’re admitting to their customer that policy language can be bewildering. To those of us in the industry, this can be a frightening public statement from a competitor. But vulnerability creates a feeling of trust, a sort of “we’re all in this together” feeling. While I do not advocate that those of us who understand insurance start backing away from education, I do hope we find a way to share the knowledge we have in a relatable and human manner.
There is an argument to be made that similar efforts are made by traditional insurers through shareholder reports and financial statements. However, Lemonade has chosen to update their chronicles more frequently and with a more authentic voice. They keep the jargon to a minimum and try to make it fun. I commend their efforts at transparency and hope to see them as a trendsetter as more insurance companies adopt these types of practices. Maybe then, my acquaintance’s response would be “Where can I read your piece when you’re done?”