December 04, 2012

It all started about a year ago, when we asked, "Would you get a health insurance quote at the airport?" Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross (IBC) had installed a kiosk at the Philadelphia airport that, among other things, allowed busy travelers to get a health insurance quote.

The kiosk model has become popular for health insurers, who have been aggressive in adopting customer experience strategies from other industries, such as retail. Now, Amerihealth NJ — incidentially, an IBC subsidiary based in Cranbury, N.J. — has deployed its own kiosks in two of the state's malls.

Like IBC's, the Amerihealth kiosks allow users to check symptoms, find a doctor and even get a quote. And, one could certainly argue that the context for this kiosk — a mall — is a little more fitting for a sale than the airport.

IBC isn't the only health insurer making noise with kiosks, though. Wellpoint actually invested in in a company that makes health kiosks, SoloHealth, so it can "get closer to the consumer and engage them where they are."

Insurers are increasingly seeing that they can't afford to be shy about the commoditization of their product. Consumers expect to be able to interact with their insurers in certain ways — MetLife's "insurance-in-a-box" is a stark example of the ways carriers are looking to draw in new customers with different expectations. The question is, will one of these channels take hold and become the next dominant insurance distribution channel, like agents were for so long? One could argue that online sales have already done that — so at best kiosks and off-the-shelf strategies can only take second place.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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, ...