Getting life insurance is like a bet you can’t win. If you live, you don’t get the money. If you die, you don’t get to enjoy the money” Oliver Gaspirtz

Life insurance. Car insurance. Travel insurance. It’s all the same. Ultimately all insurance is a bet that you can’t win. If you ‘cash in’, then at best, you end up back where you started – but with a few more bumps, bruises & bashes for the experience. And if you don’t, you’ve spent a whole load of money to stand still.

Let’s be honest, no-one wants insurance. If we could live in a world where we no serious ill harm would ever befall us, why wouldn’t we? We need insurance. But sure as hell, nobody actively wants it.

Add to that a category that is dull, predictable and copycat. A category with a bi-polar personality, that veers from the anodyne and faceless, to the deeply irritating (well done Go Compare – you win). A category that has taught people to buy on price. And nothing else…

With all of these, is it any wonder that what is already a begrudging purchase, becomes a potentially resented one?

Something needs to change. Behaviour needs to change.

But it isn’t consumer behaviour.

It’s how the category behaves.

The category at large (& brands in particular) need to challenge beliefs & perceptions by behaving differently. The onus is on the category to change & get people to follow.

Many categories & industries have become obsessed with understanding the underlying deep positive motivational desires & needs that lead to a particular decision. Hands up here – the insight industry hasn’t always helped this. A blind faith in methodology has created a lot of false promises that the ‘golden ticket’ positive motivator can be uncovered if you just dig deep and far enough.

But that isn’t always true. And it isn’t true in insurance.

The truth is that there aren’t deep rooted positive motivations to get insurance, because we don’t want it, we need it. You can find things that make us slightly less resentful about purchasing insurance. You can talk about the positives of the experience.

But none of this changes the dynamic. If disaster never strikes, then insurance is a ‘waste’ of money. If something happens, it is just a return to the status quo. Neither way makes our life richer. Neither way makes our lives better. Neither way brings us into a positive territory.

The industry has been trying to persuade people to want insurance. But we don’t. And we never will. So stop.

Stop trying to find deep lying human desires to want insurance. Stop trying to find an emotional hook that will provide a panacea.

Instead answer a different question. Answer what can be done differently for the greatest commercial impact? Answer what are the most potent interruptions we can make to disrupt.

Make us enjoy it. Stand out. Be distinctive. Be different. Be disruptive.

And the insurance world could do worse than look across the way to banking and the example set by Metro Bank.

Metro Bank have attempted to rip up the category rule book in banking. Instead of focusing on why we want banking (which to be honest, in an ideal world, many of us probably wouldn’t), they havefocused on making a necessary evil more fun and enjoyable.

Built on a promise of first class customer service (rather than the race to the bottom of ‘best rates’ that every other bank plays by), they promised a revolution for retail banking. A different axis on which we could evaluate our banks. At their stores (not branches), friendly opening hours would compliment friendly staff and services that put other banks into the shade…

Its an interesting challenge – and as with most attempts to be radical and shake up an industry, they’ve done some things well and others less well. Certainly at launch, it had its fair share of detractors, questioning whether in fact we just wanted a solid reliable established name to look after our money – not a place that gives out dog biscuits and has water bowls for dogs in the foyer?

And as it has grown, there have been pains. Initially, as expected and on the business plan, they have experienced losses. But recent results suggest that it is all coming together. Commercial loans have risen YOY by 298%. Consumer deposits are up 131% YOY to over £1.6bn. With over 320,000 customers and 26 stores (with 8 more planned), this is now a serious and viable bank and as it continues to grow, its ability to disrupt the category will grow still further.

Choosing a different path to the rest of the category is never easy. It requires bravery and determination. It requires the ability to look to the long term and suffer some potential short term pain. But it is in the long term vision that you win. If your category is stuck on an inevitable path to destruction through copycat dynamics that lead everyone to behave in the same way, then perhaps its worth asking not if you should, but whether you have any choice not to?


With thanks to Ralf for the image