Pinnacle Life leverages Optimation skill and technology for online life insurance advice solution
Leading online life insurer brings Kiwis a digital first
One of Pinnacle Life's ongoing objectives is to find ways to make insurance easy to understand, and accessible for Kiwis who want to make use of a digital option. They noted that New Zealander’s are generally underinsured, and client feedback indicated that for some people, reluctance towards insurance came from not wanting to share the details of their lives with an insurance broker face to face.
How technological advances inspired Pinnacle Life's online life insurance advice tool.
Launched in 1998, Pinnacle Life prides itself on its innovative approach and quest for continual digital improvement demonstrating this by being the first insurer in the world to offer its customers the choice to buy life insurance online, rather than through a broker. Since then, they've gone on to offer a range of insurance options, all available to purchase online.
Technological advances for small insurance companies
Investment in cutting-edge technology is a priority for Pinnacle Life. It was with that in mind that they partnered with Optimation in 2013, and have worked with us ever since. "We're a small company, so it's very important to us that we can leverage the broad range of skillsets, technology and experience that Optimation provides," says Amy Cavanaugh, General Manager Operations. "We make use of so many aspects of their business, and there are so many different ways that they support us. It's not just one developer and one account manager; it's a much deeper relationship than that."
One of Pinnacle Life's ongoing objectives is to find ways to make insurance easy to understand, and accessible for Kiwis who want to make use of a digital option. They noted that New Zealanders are generally underinsured and that client feedback indicated that friction to insurance for some people came from not wanting to share the details of their lives with an insurance broker face to face.
"Market research conducted by the Financial Services Council shows that Kiwis are under-insured," Amy explains. "We know from our customers that not everyone has time to speak to an insurance advisor, or they find it intimidating. It got us thinking about how we could extend our offering from online underwriting and purchase to online advice, and address the challenge of under-insurance by targeting customers who prefer to get their information online."
It was with that in mind that they came up with the idea of offering an online life insurance advice tool - one that was free to their customers, and that meant they could obtain expert advice without having to actually sit down and talk to anyone.
The online advice tool, once launched, would mean Pinnacle Life would be the first insurer in New Zealand to bring digital life insurance advice to the market.
“They would explain technical issues clearly, and then check to make sure we had got our heads around it. And they encouraged us to ask questions and we did - a ton of them!”
A background engine that calculates a range of different variables
Optimation’s work with Pinnacle Life for the last eight years positioned us well to deliver this project. We’re familiar with their systems and working style, and our developers have maintained an excellent relationship with the staff at Pinnacle. When they told us of their idea to develop an online life insurance advice tool, we saw it as an exciting challenge. "They jumped straight in," Amy recalls. "We had a lot of brainstorming sessions and they collaborated really well with our other IT partner, who provide our UI and the CMS."
"What we built was a background engine that calculates a range of different variables," says Optimation Delivery Manager David Wood. "We also added integration with their digital underwriting engine."
The tool takes the customer through a step-by-step process of working out what the customer's drivers are for getting insurance, what they worry about and their financial circumstances. It then tailors the resulting advice based on their responses to provide them with the best insurance policy options for their lifestyle.
As with all projects, there were a few speedbumps along the way, which Optimation responded to swiftly and efficiently. "Their team is really accessible," says Amy. "They were always available to pick up a phone or jump on a Teams call. The project manager runs a tight ship, and they're open to using all sorts of collaboration tools."
What stood out for Pinnacle was Optimation's ability to effectively explain anything that seemed overly technical. "They're very professional and trustworthy, and they know their stuff," Amy explains. "It was important to them that we understood everything fully. They would explain technical issues clearly, and then check to make sure we had got our heads around it. And they encouraged us to ask questions and we did - a ton of them!"
“Our customers are telling us that it's really easy to use, that it provides interesting information and that it's even quite confronting. That's because we use statistics to illustrate why insurance is important, and the advice the tool provides really gives them something to think about - things they might not have considered before. We're also hearing that the process is really engaging, and gives them a recommendation they understand.”
Giving customers the confidence to make great insurance choices
Pinnacle Life's goal is to close the gap in getting advice and to help their customers be confident in the insurance choices they make. Delivered within the project timeframe, the insurance advice tool was launched in March 2021. It's a digital first that helps Pinnacle's customers work out what they need in a thorough, sophisticated, and regulated way. And although it's only just gone live, it's been enthusiastically undertaken by Pinnacle customers who have provided positive feedback.
"It's already been used more than we expected in the first month," Amy says. "Our customers are telling us that it's really easy to use, that it provides interesting information and that it's even quite confronting. That's because we use statistics to illustrate why insurance is important, and the advice the tool provides really gives them something to think about - things they might not have considered before. We're also hearing that the process is really engaging, and gives them a recommendation they understand."
Optimation continues to provide support around the APIs that sit behind the advice recommendations, but the overall working relationship with Pinnacle continues across a broader range. "Optimation are often checking in with us, asking what we've got on the radar," Amy explains. "This new tool is just one of the ways we've leveraged their skills and experience. They're always sharing what they're working on, and we really make the most of that. Having a partner that provides this quality, highly innovative skillset is really valuable for us."
Other Benefits Include:
- A standardised approach – greater efficiency and accuracy in business processes
- An excellent user experience
- The ability to continually enhance the customer experience
- Improved productivity