Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC, The John Hancock Vitality Program and USAA have been singled out for the innovative use of IT and technology to improve the services they provide their customers. All three insurers were the recipients last month of Strategy Meets Action’s 2015 Innovation in Action Award. 

Each year SMA, an insurance advisory firm, presents the award to insurers that have made use of technology to transform their services and deliver game-changing business capabilities and customer solutions. The winners were chosen by SMA’s partners and the awards were presented at the advisory group’s annual summit held in Boston on Sept. 21.

Haven Life Insurance Agency

Insurance startup Haven Life Insurance Agency, based in New York City, offers a medically underwritten term-life insurance policy, Haven Term, which can be purchased online. The company developed an online system that streamlines how life insurance policies are sold, underwritten and administered.

The Haven Term policy is issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (Haven Life’s parent company) and is currently only available in Massachusetts. The company uses sophisticated algorithms to determine whether an applicant is eligible for coverage, and the online process to determine eligibility only takes about 20 minutes. If the applicant is eligible, a policy can be purchased immediately and coverage begins immediately. Moving the process online dramatically reduces the time it typically takes to determine eligibility and purchase a policy, which is often four to six weeks.

It took Haven Life 14 months to build and launch the online underwriting system using a variety of web technologies, including a node.js tech stack, a mongoDB database, and ACORD XML transactions to tie all the pieces together.

The system guides the applicant through the process and includes live chat support. It can also send out status emails and messages to the applicant during the application process. The real-time underwriting decision is based on the applicant’s medical history. Applicant data is verified using external data such as motor vehicle reports and prescription histories. The Haven Life site offers three tiers of coverage options and comparisons to other top-rated insurers. Metrics monitored by the company include the amount of time from application to customer receipt of policy, underwriting costs, application drop-off rates and customer satisfaction based on NPS scores.

John Hancock

The John Hancock Vitality Program, launched in April 2015 by John Hancock in partnership with specialist insurer Discovery, offers life insurance that rewards people for the everyday steps they take to improve and maintain their health. The program makes use of emerging, interactive technologies such as wearables and gamification.

Program members earn points for things they do to stay healthy, like exercising and getting free annual health screenings. These activities can be recorded with John Hancock’s online tools. A mobile app lets members log gym workouts and play "The Vitality Wheel" game, which provides them with the opportunity to earn additional points or gift cards when they reach certain milestones. Members can also participate in Vitality Squares, an online health-themed game of chance that can be played once a month to earn points. John Hancock uses the game to nudge members towards healthier eating habits and to encourage overall program involvement. The insurer also provides members with a free Fitbit wearable device, which they can use to track their progress. As they earn points, members are rewarded with premium savings of up to 15 percent, gift cards and discounts for entertainment, shopping, and travel.

To date engagement metrics such as site traffic suggest that John Hancock’s strategy is driving consumer interest and that the program will earn a return on investment.



USAA is pioneering the use of drones to settle P&C claims more safely and efficiently following natural disasters. It has been researching unmanned aircraft system technology since 2010 and has begun testing small, unmanned aircraft systems that can record data over damaged areas.
The insurer has worked with the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), drone manufacturers, universities and humanitarian organizations to gain experience in using drones. Together with the nonprofit Roboticists Without Borders, USAA deployed drones after the Oso, Wash., mudslides in 2014 and provided data and imagery to county officials to assist in rebuilding. USAA was also the first insurer to file a request with the FAA for permission to utilize fixed-wing drones for research and development. In April 2015, the insurer was granted two exemptions by the FAA to operate drones for further R&D and for use in operations following natural disasters. USAA now operates a PrecisionHawk Lancaster unmanned aircraft system and has filed authorization to operate additional multi-rotor unmanned aircraft systems.
Livegenic, Social Intelligence Corp., and Wallflower Labs, Inc.

In addition to the three insurance company awards, SMA recognized three insurance industry solutions providers—Livegenic, Social Intelligence Corp., and Wallflower Labs, Inc., for their innovative application of technology.

Each of the three solution providers was acknowledged for their use of technology in delivering innovative solutions to insurers:

Livegenic offers a patented, mobile, real-time video platform that connects a policyholder with a claims customer service representative through live video without disconnecting the ongoing phone call.

Social Intelligence offers a sophisticated scoring platform that leverages publicly available social media data and the Internet of Things (IoT) for improved risk assessment. The solution helps insurers by aggregating data and offering access to reliable, and less expensive data sources. These provide insurers with another layer of risk assessment that can be used across life and personal and commercial P&C lines of business throughout the policy lifecycle.

Wallflower Labs offers a patent-pending solution to reduce the number of unattended cooking fires and associated claims. Wallflower’s Electric Range Smart Cord and Gas Range Smart Valve alert homeowners that ranges and cooktops are turned on using smartphone push notifications and allow for remote or automatic shutoff.

Each of the winners’ stories is detailed in a special report now available from SMA.

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