Bringing Whole Life Insurance to Life

By: Citizen Inc.

A look at how augmented 3D visuals can help financial professionals communicate the benefits of insurance products to customers.

Let’s face it, insurance products aren’t exactly sexy.

We had this in mind when we presented an augmented reality (AR) demo at the InsureTech Connect 2017 (ITC) conference in Las Vegas in early October.

Insurance is an expensive, complicated, and difficult product to sell. We chose an AR approach because potential customers are more likely to buy insurance, particularly whole life, if they can imagine it working in the context of their own lives.

Citizen isn’t a stranger to designing experiences that visualize intangible concepts. To be honest, we’re pretty good at it.

The Challenge: Visualize the value of Whole Life insurance.

One of the biggest challenges of selling insurance is that it can be difficult to communicate the benefits to consumers. It can be trickier when they’re talking about a product like Whole Life insurance.

In a nutshell, Whole Life insurance has three key benefits:

  1. It’s guaranteed to remain effective for the customer’s entire lifetime
  2. Whole life premiums are fixed, and usually don’t increase with age
  3. Customers are entitled to a “living” cash value reserve and can withdraw against their policy (like a loan)

Customers can use Whole Life insurance to protect loved ones financially, while also building guaranteed cash value year after year. They can even withdraw from their policy to help finance things like a personal or business loan, or cover an unforeseen emergency.

Unfortunately, these benefits are usually buried in a folder filled with spreadsheets, policy information, legal contracts, and technical illustrations that can be overwhelming to someone who’s learning about the product for the first time.

The Solution: The “coffee table” approach.

Financial professionals work hard to build trust and develop long-term relationships with their customers. These professionals are still the greatest sales asset to financial institutions, but they’re burdened with a complicated story.

We felt it was important to create a technology-driven sales tool that could enhance the personal relationship rather than replace it. AR was the perfect format as it conserves eye contact and conversation.

Financial professionals often connect with customers by discussing life events with them. It’s a way they can translate the benefits of financial and insurance products in a tangible way.

With those two factors in mind, we set out to design an AR experience that would enhance the seller’s personal connection with advanced technology, making Whole Life insurance easier for a customer to understand.

With deep industry and behavioral insights at our fingertips, we brought together an in-house team of strategists, designers, creative technologists, and insurance experts to create several AR design concepts.

The clear winner was the “coffee table” concept. This AR tool would allow a financial professional to help a customer understand how Whole Life insurance could fit into their life using tablet with augmented 3D visuals.

The Process: Create an AR tool that empowers financial professionals and customers alike.

We created a quick, simple interaction design for our AR experience for ITC. We wanted to hold conference attendees’ attention, so our design allowed users to go through the entire experience in only 2-3 minutes.

We chose six common life events that were meaningful to most people and easy to visualize through augmented 3D models and animations:

  1. Preparing for the birth of a child
  2. Buying a second home
  3. Paying for college
  4. Handling an emergency
  5. Starting a new business
  6. Financing a dream car

While our prototype features six life events, our vision is that an insurance company can create a “choose your own adventure” tool that allows customers to interact while showcasing the range of company product offerings.

Our savvy creative technologist team developed this “coffee table” AR experience using the Vuforia SDK platform and 3D models from Unity.

This AR experience was designed to be trigger-based. This means the tablet’s camera focuses on an AR trigger graphic in its viewfinder in order to project the assigned 3D model.

Each trigger card projects its assigned 3D visual, and brings up a small content box with a scenario overview. The scenario overview explains how a Whole Life insurance policy might be used for that type of life event during a pre-determined policy year. (E.g.: Buying a second home near policy year 25).

After weeks of concepting, planning, designing and developing, we were finally ready to take this AR experience to InsureTech Connect 2017.

The Results

The demo attracted interest and curiosity from insurance professionals across the industry – nearly 100 visitors sat through the entire demo experience, a real win for Citizen.

It sparked conversations with insurance technology experts about how AR can be used across the industry, and not just with Whole Life insurance.

As emerging technologies like augmented reality become more common in everyday life, companies across all industries are increasingly exploring them as means for viable UX solutions.

And seeing how our AR experience was so embraced at ITC, we’re excited at the prospect of insurance shedding its skin as an old-school and stiff industry by adopting new forms of technology.

This experience showed the openness and enthusiasm insurance carriers have for embracing new technologies that can brighten a complex sales experience for customers.