RGA provides quarterly updates on global product developments, which can be made available upon request. View the 3Q 2022 digital newsletter.
Value-added services (VAS) are a way for insurers to increase client engagement and loyalty, and are defined as being complimentary additions to the original product offerings.
In some cases, the value-added services offered have proved to be highly beneficial to customers and insurers, and are heavily utilized. To be effective, however, VAS need to be relevant and easy to understand, comprehensive, available, and personalized. They also need to be tailored to a customer’s personal circumstances, needs, and preferences at a specific time if they are going to be used. Other important features for customers are the services being available to the entire family and not just the policyholder, and understanding if these services are available through the lifetime of the policy or just in a no-claim scenario.
A recent survey by Pacific Life Re in the U.K. found that for younger customers, value-added services were particularly important when choosing a policy, with 26% of 18 to 30-year-olds being more interested in VAS offerings. Among existing customers, 43% said VAS were important in remaining a loyal customer. Interestingly, the survey also found there was a low awareness of VAS being offered to existing customers. This suggests that insurers need to educate existing customers on their offerings, and not just when the customer initially takes out the policy.
VAS can help a company differentiate their products from their competitors. Below are some examples of VAS currently being offered in the life and health insurance space. The VAS offered are continually evolving to ensure they are relevant to the customer.
Insurers try to identify key life events or behavioral shifts in a customer to assess a potential intervention point. Key events such as marriage, divorce, family expansion, home ownership, and retirement are some of the life events where insurers can reach out with timely valuable offers or financial planning information.
VAS offered with life insurance provide extra support to a customer faced with decisions at an overwhelming and unsettling time of loss. Some of the current VAS services offered by life insurers include will and preparation services, beneficiary counselling services, and the accelerated death benefit.
Life insurers often do not have the expertise to offer these services in-house so they must acquire or partner with an insurtech or expert in the field. Some recent partnerships include AllState Canada with Willful; AIA with YourWills; and Ethos Life, who recently acquired Tomorrow and its will creation app. Eirne and Assurant Life offers customers the ability to prepay for cremation arrangement services online as part of estate planning. Empire Life is offering a grief counselling Service with its Voyageur Global Benefits (VGB) life plans. In the U.K., a major life insurer offers RedArc and its Wellbeing Support Service to new customers. The service includes a pool of registered nurses that provide a wide range of phone-based wellbeing services, supporting wellness and mental health. They also offer a £100 gift card when signing up for life insurance.
In South Africa most funeral benefits come with many VAS including airtime top-ups for cellphone to arrange the funeral, grocery benefits and cash back if death was within the waiting period. Some even go as far as hiring of bus services to bus people into the funeral, tombstone unveiling services, and a helpline to assist with funeral arrangements, grief counselling etc. An example of such a funeral plan is Clientele.
The pandemic highlighted the need for health insurance, so insurers have introduced more VAS in this space. These services are becoming almost standard nowadays: 24/7 doctor consultation, 24/7 nurse support, physiotherapy, prescription delivery, second medical opinion, counselling support, preventative health checks, and mental health support. Discounts are offered on medical tests, fitness wearables, and sports equipment. Discounts are also offered at different retailers for customers trying to lead healthier lives; e.g., healthy food rewards and access to nutrition consultations. Square Health found that Digital GP services was the most sought-after service, and that it was accessed by policyholders and their spouses/partners and children.
Insurers have also linked up with digital health and wellness platforms to offer rewards for leading a healthy life. Vitality's global reach now spans 36 markets, including five new markets outside of South Africa. Vitality is unique to each of the global markets where it is available. It has more than 150 partners that join strengths to offer financial and lifestyle rewards.
dacadoo has partnered with insurers in Asia and Latin America to show customers that the insurer is invested in their health. The Wheel of Life identifies seven different areas that contribute to health and wellness and combines them to create the dacadoo Health Score. They have also recently teamed up with FWD Group to launch Omne, a new mobile app that helps create personalised goal-based journeys to support greater quality of life.
In India the FG Health Absolute health insurance plan is a recent product launch designed for empowering customers to actively manage their health and lead a healthy lifestyle. This product offers value added services such as tele counselling, webinars on mental and physical health, vouchers for wellness centres, fitness, sports, and diagnostic centres, and regular health check-ups to ensure a healthy and fit lifestyle. Monthly tracking has been included for monitoring fitness and healthy customer lifestyles, ensuring a comprehensive approach towards physical and mental wellbeing.
A VAS can also be offered with a Critical Illness policy at the claim stage. An example of this is Bidvest Critical Illness Lump Sum Cover which offers CI Assistt o help you and your family with the emotional toll and daily stresses of coping with a critical illness. The Medical Second Opinion Family benefit is an additional benefit.
The VAS offered in group plans are continually evolving. A recent VAS launch by Securian Financial is BenefitBump, a program designed for all paths to parenthood, including childbirth, adoption, and families seeking fertility support. Customers will have access to live support from emotional health clinicians and education tools.
The partnership between Empathy and New York Life provides beneficiaries with logistical and emotional support after the loss of their loved ones. Prudential and Wellthy provide access to VAS for caregivers. They offer free access to Wellthy’s digital caregiving tools, such as educational content, digital care plan creation, storage of digital caregiving documents (e.g., prescriptions, medical records, wills, etc.), access to a shared calendar to track appointments, and the ability to establish a group caregiving discussion.
Travel Insurance is offered by most travel companies. The VAS offerings however have been expanded to include medical concierge services for the travellers’ dependents. Home nursing services for the elderly are also bundled with travel insurance packages. Customers can receive periodic health information updates from their insurers. Emergency travel assistance is another initiative that provides help irrespective of the customer’s travel location during medical and dental emergencies. Customers can even access English-speaking medical professionals or interpreter services during their international travel. Some of these innovations have come about due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic when travelling suddenly became more complicated.
Value added services supplement the core insurance offering. Insurers need to ensure these VAS offerings are relevant, personalized, comprehensive, and available when needed. VAS offerings also need to be accessible by all the family in all its forms. The insurer needs to maintain regular communication with the customer so that customer is aware of the VAS on offer.
Stay tuned for future releases of our quarterly newsletter to see where the next innovations will take us.