Insurance educator Bill Wilson has now written two articles challenging the insurance industry about why it makes fun of its customers’ suffering and disasters. In What’s So Funny? and, Again I Ask, What’s So Funny? Wilson challenges his industry:

Our industry exists to assist individuals, families, and organizations in identifying and insuring their loss exposures in order to minimize the chance of serious or catastrophic financial loss and the emotional toll that entails. What’s funny about that?

I would suggest the answer is: Nothing. The point is that executives of major insurance companies find that “funny” and “cheap” sell a lot more policies. People do not like to think of disasters happening to them. Thinking about insurance and insurance needs is hard work. Most consumers do not understand that “cheap” insurance exists because it is not the same as insurance products and services from other companies charging greater premiums.

How does “fun and cheap” compare to “serious, hard, and more costly in the short term?” I learned a long time ago that most of my classmates would rather play than study, work, and save for graduate school.

Insurance Business discussed this topic: Why Insurance Adverts Are Going For Laughs, and quoted from a marketing executive overseeing Allstate’s “Mayhem” ad campaign:

‘Geico (sic) came out and said that people don’t care that much about insurance; insurance is a burden category, so let’s lighten the burden,’ said Britt Nolan, the chief creative officer at Leo Burnett USA and one of the creators of Allstate’s Mayhem character. ‘Let’s make it simple and cheap, and let’s make the brand feel likable and fun.’

‘I think they showed everyone else that there was another instrument available to be played,’ Nolan added. ‘And now all these other brands are trying to find their own unique voice in comedy.’

A Progressive Insurance marketing executive noted the following:

‘We use humor to forge a bond with our customers,’ stated Progressive leader of marketing strategy Cat Kolodij.

Insurance agents play a very crucial role in our society. They sell serious products and have serious discussions with people about the perils most of us hate to think about happening personally and to our businesses. Yet, I recently noted that one of the insurance industry’s significant consulting firms is predicting that insurance agents may be replaced by artificial intelligence in Will Insurance Agents Be Replaced By Computerized Artificial Intelligence. Getting consumer leads through gimmicky advertisements followed by fluff risk analysis seems to be the trend despite valid criticisms.

My observation is that much of the property and casualty industry is in a race to the bottom, trying to save claims dollars through lowered underwriting of coverages and various claims programs designed to reduce severity of claims payments regardless of the product sold. There is nothing funny about that either.

Thought For The Day

The best preparation for the future is the present well seen to, and the last duty done.
—George MacDonald

  • Bruce Holmes
    • Bruce,

      I will accept the Progressive advertisement much more than other insurers that
      make a comedy out of damage to homes and cars.

      Thanks for your comment and hope to learn from one of your seminars in the
      future.

  • Jim Johnson

    In my experience, the companies that do the silly advertising, such as Progressive, Geico, Farmer’s and so on, also tend to to be some of the worst performers when it comes to keeping the promise in claim handling. However, this phenomenon it not limited to just the insurance industry, but is prevalent in most big ticket industries such as home service companies, car sales even legal services, and so on.

  • shirley heflin

    Dear Chip:

    You’re right there’s nothing really “funny” about the insurance industry. Insurance companies would get their message across more effectively if their commercials depicted Insureds being rowed out in canoes following a flood, storm, hurricane, etc. Maybe they could have insurance employees on the “sidelines” handing out clothing, coffee, and – now here’s an idea – a CHECK for food and lodging!!

    Respectfully,
    SHIRLEY HEFLIN
    Tampa, FL