Playing The Insurance Game

AXA Equitable, a life insurance company in Farmington, Connecticut, has created a video game to introduce life insurance to women in their 40s. AXA's Pass It On! launched on the web in September and now a mobile application is heading to more portable devices. Pass It On! lets players pick an avatar and walk the streets of New York City collecting gold and avoiding expenses. The character can also buy permanent life insurance (represented in-game as a gold shield worn as a backpack) or term life (a silver shield).

Pass It On! becomes more challenging as the game progresses. New challenges and obstacles appear that can instantly kill the player. Different levels in the game are represented by different U.S. locations. After New York, players go to is St. Louis, New Orleans, Mount Rushmore and San Francisco. The game seems to be at least a moderate success, so far attracting almost 64,000 unique visitors who played it more than 231,000 times, according to the company.

The biggest draw, its creators say, is the sweepstakes linked to the game. Players can enter to win a $25,000 or $15,000 cash prize if they play between now and Dec. 31.

AXA Equitable turned to video games to reach potential customers because of the generational shift in marketing strategies. While the company sees a majority of baby boomers between the ages of 47 and 65 owning policies that provide money at death, people between the ages of 31 and 46 (Generation X) and between 19 and 30 (Generation Y) have no coverage.

"Life insurance sales are at a 50-year low," notes David O'Leary, head of AXA Equitable's financial protection segment. He gets his figures from research conducted by Windsor, CT.-based LIMRA. "Some 11 million U.S. households with children younger than 18 have no life insurance. Many of these children would face immediate financial trouble if a parent died."

Hall came up with the concept of Pass It On! while riding the Metro-North to Connecticut after a conference in New York.

"I went to a social media conference in New York about a year and a half ago, and I heard three stories there that totally inspired me," Hall said. The most impressive was a game, Mad Men Yourself, which allowed gamers to create a personality within the 1960s Madison Avenue advertising world that is the basis for the hit AMC TV series "Mad Men." The game helped propel the popularity of the show.

"They were trying to reach the same market that I am," Hall said. "They were talking about reaching the 35 to 55's. So, that got me thinking about gamification. Can you gamify life insurance?"

Source: The Hartford Courant

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