Sophia Zuniga, a three-year old cancer patient, kisses her new My Special Aflac Duck, a robotic companion designed to comfort her and other pediatric cancer patients throughout their treatment, after receiving this special gift at CHOC Children's Hospital in Orange, Calif. on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. Sophia Zuniga, 3, hugs her My Special Aflac Duck robot. (Photo: Aflac)

In a time of global uncertainty and unrest, consumers are gravitating more than ever toward companies they can trust. Aflac’s 2019 CSR Survey finds that 77% of consumers are motivated to make purchases from companies committed to making the world better. Additionally, 73% of investors agreed that efforts to help improve society and the environment contribute positively to returns. Clearly, a willingness to show one’s values can be a powerful force in driving business interest.

Brokers and agents, though they don’t always provide direct-to-consumer services, are not exempt from this guiding principle: The values you demonstrate have a real, measurable effect on client satisfaction, sales, retention and more. But there is only so much you can do to demonstrate core beliefs on your own. Much of people’s perception comes down to whether the products and services you provide are developed and distributed with the good of the customer in mind.

Insurance companies sell a promise to be there when policyholders need it most. Over the past few years, innovative insurers have revamped policies to better address customers’ needs. But what is the recipe for a policy that puts people first? Most of all, it requires listening with care to what customers want and prioritizing purpose just as much as profits.

Part of the job for a modern broker or agent is to identify which companies are following through on their promises — and what sets their policies apart from the pack. Accident coverage is one example where agents and brokers can observe the differences that purpose-motivated insurers can make. After reviewing several treasure troves of claims data, insurers started to uncover key trends and growth areas in consumers’ accident policies.

(Related: Accident Insurance: Coverage for All Walks of Life)

As a result, customers can get more than just blanket coverage for the immediate expenses of a crash or fall. Look for insurers whose products are considerate to customers’ specific needs, covering situations such as injuries related to organized sports or repairs for damaged prosthetic devices — both of which are emerging as customer needs. Offering policies such as this is one way to differentiate your offerings and stand out to prospective clients.

A similar evolution into more customer-driven policies has taken place in the realm of cancer insurance. We at my company, Aflac, have worked hard to discover what customers value most in their cancer policies — and what might be missing. The insights we have gained from customer feedback have led to recent innovations such as areola tattooing for breast cancer patients — something more and more survivors are looking to for support after their arduous recoveries.

Policy innovations like these communicate an insurer’s—caring nature to a degree that can’t be accomplished by lip service alone. And aligning yourself with these policies is beneficial for brokers and agents because they hit at the heart of what customers really need — someone they trust who has their best interests at heart.

There is one step for insurers beyond merely incorporating purpose into policies, and that is implementing a company purpose within the entire business — from policies to philanthropy and beyond. According to the B2B Purpose Paradox report, only 24% of businesses say purpose is embedded within their business to the extent that it influences innovation, operations and their engagement with society. If a company’s policies do more than just stand on their own, but they make up one aspect of an organizational culture of customer care, then you know you’ve found an organization that will appeal to customers and clients.

To continue the cancer example, Aflac’s core philanthropic cause for 25 years is helping kids with cancer. In addition to giving over $140 million to the cause, the company has used our learnings from that cause to infuse purpose into our product, including providing coverage for dependent children at no additional charge.

In merging philanthropy with policy, insurers can tie together the loop between company purpose and corporate profits. And knowing that purpose is so important to customers, brokers and agents can take that same mission as their own. In doing so, you can rest assured that the policies you offer and the companies you represent are helping you meet the needs of clients and customers.

— Connect with ThinkAdvisor Life/Health on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Wendy Herndon (Photo: Aflac)Wendy Herndon is second vice president of product launch and adoption at Aflac.