Great Eastern Life has changed the way it looks at life insurance and gone beyond the traditional role of an insurance company. It refreshed its brand purpose last year to be a LIFE company, launching "Live Great" - an industry-first integrated health and wellness programme - to actively support customers in living healthier, better and longer lives, and rewarding them for doing so. The game-changing programme has defined a new norm for the insurance industry.
A market leader in Singapore and Malaysia, Great Eastern Life has a rich 105-year legacy with strong Asian values. It is the oldest and most established life insurance group in these markets, with operations also in Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei and China.
Central to the company's customer-centric culture is its fundamental belief of spending time with customers to glean insights into how to make insurance more meaningful, simpler to understand and seamless. To this end, its imaGEnation studio conducts regular interview sessions and focus groups with key market segments to obtain better customer insights and generate new ideas on how insurance can be enhanced as part of a complete household financial plan. Health and wellness issues are commonly raised in such discussions, particularly the cost of medical care in the event of serious illness or accident.
"People worry about rising medical costs," says Chris Wei, Group CEO of Great Eastern Holdings. "So we have developed a holistic approach to help customers curb medical expenses. Through the Live Great programme, we are going beyond the typical insurance conversation. It's the first important step in the right direction."
The comprehensive programme has five core components: wellness tools, health tips, mobile phone applications, workshops and events, and the Live Great card which customers can use to enjoy exclusive health and wellness benefits and privileges at partner establishments throughout the region. Across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, there are more than 300,000 Live Great members. More than 250,000 people have participated in Live Great events, including the flagship Great Eastern Women's Run in Singapore, which is the largest women-only race in Asia.
Great Eastern is the first insurance company in Asia to lead the way in the health and wellness space. Its Live Great portal has one of the most robust databanks on health and wellness, which also enables distribution partners and advisers to share up-to-date information on specific medical concerns of their customers.
Such levels of engagement are hard to replicate in the industry, especially since Great Eastern has taken its programme to the next level by rewarding customers with lower premiums and increased coverage.
Cash rewards on offer
"Rewarding our customers for attaining good health is a major step in the evolution of our Live Great programme," Wei says. "We're factoring in a core component of our business - the insurance product itself - and linking it with our intention. We're putting our money where our mouth is."
Through Live Great Healthy Rewards, Great Eastern customers with a good Live Great Health Assessment score will be given cash rewards of up to 30 per cent of their annual premiums. For a start, this is applicable to Supreme Term and PayAssure policyholders and customers who purchase these policies by the end of the year.
"For policyholders who do not score well in their health assessment, we will pay for the cost of the follow-up consultation," Wei says. "We sincerely want to help our customers understand their results and seek advice from the doctor on what they can do to improve their health."
For Malaysian customers, Great Eastern rewards healthy living through Smart Premier Health, a policy that discounts premiums by 25 per cent after the fourth year and increases coverage by 10 per cent every three years.
Live Great incentives have also been incorporated into the Group LIFE programme, Great Eastern's offering to corporate customers in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Rewards under the Group LIFE programme, usually credited to corporate customers' employees for participating in group wellness activities, can be tailor-made to fit a company's employee incentives programme.
"Much of our product development approach now is about flexibility and listening to our customers," Wei says. "In the Group LIFE programme, we incentivise employees to do the right thing. We're also encouraging employers to help their employees do the right thing, and everybody wins in the end. It's aligned with our purpose."
In response to evolving customer trends, Great Eastern has launched several product firsts. Supreme Protect is the first product in Singapore to allow customers to increase their insurance coverage with no medical underwriting, including for critical illness, at key stages of their life such as getting married or having a child. It is also the first plan in Singapore to offer total and permanent disability coverage beyond age 65, for whole of life. The plan was well received by consumers, with more than 10,000 policies signed within six months of its launch in February.
Great Eastern was the first insurer in Malaysia to respond to the government's initiatives to strengthen the pension market and retirement fund. The Great Retirement Plan, an annuity product that qualifies for the new tax relief incentive of 3,000 ringgit (HK$7,297), has attracted a good take-up.
The Great EduScholar is also the first education savings plan designed to closely match cash flow needs along a child's education journey. The plan guarantees scholarships for children who qualify to study at the top five global universities.
Social media engagement
Recognising that today's consumers expect a quick response and are plugged into a wider variety of information sources, Great Eastern has invested significant resources in enhancing its digital capabilities. The company is leveraging social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.
"The response has been very encouraging, with some 100,000 likes for our Facebook pages and about 750,000 views for our YouTube channel across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia," Wei says. "We have an active follower base that comes back to our digital properties because we provide them with useful information, health tips and engaging content and activities. We are widely acknowledged as one of the leaders in this space in the insurance industry."
Live Great Advisory Council
Great Eastern added another significant dimension to its Live Great programme in June with the formation of the Live Great Advisory Council on health and wellness in Singapore. Council members include a local academic institution for public health and industry experts in medical fields.
"We have long shared the Singapore government's vision for a healthy nation," Wei says. "Initiating the Live Great Advisory Council is a significant step in fulfilling our vision to be a LIFE company and help our customers live healthier, better and longer. The council will play a pivotal role in providing expert best-in-class advice to Great Eastern and in helping us to identify health and wellness trends and develop programmes for our customers in their journey to better health."
In collaboration with NUS School of Public Health, Great Eastern will hold a series of wellness talks in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam featuring expert advice and professional support from council members.
The forum will address contemporary health issues such as weight management, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and back health - among the prevalent concerns raised in Great Eastern's focus group discussions with customers. To support the initiative, the company is also leveraging resources from 160 Live Great partners across the region.
"We believe that the Live Great Advisory Council, with its invaluable insights and key thought leadership, and supported by our robust panel of wellness partners, will have a significant and positive impact on the health and wellness landscape," Wei says.
Great Eastern's customer-centric initiatives have found market validation. The company stood out in the latest customer satisfaction survey of Singapore Management University's Institute of Service Excellence, where it was ranked the top insurer in both the life and health categories. Great Eastern also topped the Corporate Reputation Survey 2013 by Reputation Management Associates for the life insurance industry. Brand Finance also ranked the company among Singapore's top 10 most valuable brands last year.
These achievements are driven by an organisational culture that values the overall customer experience. Great Eastern's 20,000-strong distribution representatives and 3,500-strong employees have internalised the stronger, more compelling purpose to help customers achieve their financial and wellness aspirations.
Through its centre of excellence, Great Eastern provides comprehensive training for its distribution force.
"As a LIFE company, we put our customers at the heart of everything we do," Wei says. "We will continue to offer our customers unique value propositions, innovative products, service excellence and a differentiated customer experience."
Great Eastern Holdings