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AXA Looks to Gamification, iPad to Excite Consumers About Life Insurance

Connie O'Brien, SVP of Internet strategy and development, tells Insurance & Technology that with life insurance ownership at an all-time low, insurers must engage a new audience.

New York-based life insurer AXA Equitable has never been shy about promoting the necessity of life insurance and annuities. After all, the company is famous for personifying this need as the "800-pound gorilla in the room." With a soft life insurance market, the company is redoubling its efforts to acquire new policyholders, using technology as an enticement.

In September, AXA released an online game, Pass it On, which uses a traditional video game "journey" as a metaphor for the journey of life and the opportunities to purchase insurance coverage for loved ones after death. Players create avatars and guide their virtual families to a better financial future by saving game currency, managing expenses, and making important decisions about life insurance, the company says. There are also sweepstakes and charitable components.

"That particular piece is targeted to social media gamers, who tend to be young families with kids, and we wanted to show them why they need to be protected," says Connie O'Brien, SVP of Internet strategy and development for AXA. "Often in these games you just die, but when I die in the game, my beneficiary takes over where I left off."

Demonstrating how life products, which can be complex, work, in language or experiences that consumers understand intrinsically, is a major goal of AXA's latest initiatives. This month, the company released an iPad app that explains in detail how its Athena Indexed Universal Life product works. In addition to standard fare like calculators, the app allows users to customize their needs and personal situations, and uses quizzes to educate users about life insurance coverage.

"It started as an interactive storybook for kids. We wanted to leverage the technology in order to teach people what the benefits of that product specifically are," O'Brien says. '"While our issues are certainly more serious than popping bubbles and twinkling stars, we thought it would be a good way to bring to life the content so that people could see not only why they're going through the process, but also get a really good understanding of why you need our product."

An ancillary benefit of the app is that it contains much of the sales material that distributors would normally give interested parties in a paper form. Making that available in a digital form is a way for AXA to make actually signing up for a policy easy, O'Brien adds.

"It's an elegant guided experience, if you're with your advisor or alone," she says. "The brochure is there, and it's cheaper than printing it and carrying mounds of paper around with you."

Editor's note: AXA's Connie O'Brien previously spoke with I&T about social media. She will appear at our 13th annual Executive Summit in Carefree, Ariz., next month. Register for the program, which also includes executives from Allstate, National Western Life, Independence Blue Cross, and Great American Insurance.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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