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Oh, the Youmanity! Aviva Touts Customer-Centricity in the Life Insurance Sector

Much like Cigna's GO YOU program, Aviva's aggressive Youmanity campaign is supported by concrete technology initiatives, according to Aviva USA CIO Jeff Frazee.

Coincidentally, the morning that I spoke to Cigna CIO Mark Boxer, I happened to see for the first time an advertisement from Aviva's current campaign that says the insurer is "committed to bringing humanity back to the life insurance industry." Aviva's claim to be "focusing on people, not policies" is very similar to Cigna's focus on "unique individuality," and both play against insurers' long-standing struggle to move from policy- to customer-orientation. Cigna has its "GO YOU," and Aviva has its "Youmanity," -- a portmanteau word that the company's thoughtful communications people have taken the trouble to spell out on the web page linked here, in case we were too stupid to figure that out on our own.

Aviva's "Paper People" ads (see embedded video below) graphically represent people as policies walking down the street, illustrating the problem that we industry observers have been talking about ad nauseam over the years. I appreciate the bold and amusing attempt to differentiate themselves. However, I find it vaguely pathetic -- though also funny -- to see an insurance company insisting that that it is human, despite the industry that it's in. I suspect that the campaign will endear Aviva to its competitors about as much as New York Life's Guarantees Matter campaign warmed the hearts of its demutualized insurance company competitors.

In my article about Cigna, Mark Boxer gave some specifics with regard to the technological implications of an individual-centric approach to health insurance. In a further coincidence, I happened to have a brief chat with Aviva USA CIO Jeff Frazee following my chat with Mark Boxer. Jeff shared that Aviva is similarly committed to supplying the technological means to support the company's pretensions of customer-centricity.

"Our [IT organization's] three-year strategic plan is centered around customer centricity," Frazee confided. "We have a very substantial list of projects that support greater engagement with our policyholders."

Jeff will share some of those plans at greater length in the very near future, so stay tuned to this channel for further details of how a life insurer is investing in IT initiatives to overcome the perennial problem of policy-centricity. Perhaps there's a P&C carrier out there who would like to share their customer-centricity vision and plans...

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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