Continuing the trend of financial services firms expanding to large-scale retail stores – Costco offering health insurance at locations in nine states and Walmart offering banking services in Mexico to name a few – MetLife has partnered with Walmart to become the first insurer to sell life insurance policies in a US retail department store. The pilot program, which was introduced last year, offers a prepaid one-year Simplified Term Life policy in Walmart stores to residents in Georgia and South Carolina. The program is also coming soon to Pennsylvania.
According to the MetLife public website, rates can range from $69 to $9,822 per year, depending on age, sex and coverage amount desired. Recently, we were able to evaluate the sales and purchasing process of this program in one of Walmart’s locations in Georgia. The following is an account of our experience:
Analyzing the In-Store Purchasing Experience
The Kiosk located in the pharmacy area of the store, features a tower exhibition with several MetLife promotions, life insurance literature, contact numbers and a touch-screen display that provides the user with electronic customer assistance.
MetLife Term Life Kiosk – Front (L) and Back (R)
The initial screen requires the user to select from three options based on whom they are buying coverage for – themselves, a family member or as a gift. The next screen offers policies for four age groups – 18-44, 45-54, 55-59 and 60-65. Once the user selects the appropriate age group, the following screen presents two coverage amount options. Based on their inputs, the system notifies the user of the annual rate for their term policy and which color policy package to grab from the kiosk display. All kiosk screens include a FAQs icon as well as a phone number for support.
MetLife Term Life Kiosk Screens
Overall, the quoting process required only a few steps and was completed in a matter of minutes. While quick and convenient, there are still several limitations:
- With policies only lasting one year, customers will have to be aware about renewing coverage annually.
- There is no guarantee they’ll be able to renew if their health status were to change over time.
- Individuals will have to feel comfortable enough to purchase life insurance at retail stores and without the assistance of a financial advisor.
With programs like these, insurers hope to accomplish two things. First, insurers want to reach out to the elusive middle market, as mentioned by MetLife’s Manish Bhatt, Senior Vice President of Global eBusiness and Direct Sales, at the 2013 LIMRA Annual Conference. Offering life policies in retail department stores where a large percent of the U.S. population shops will hopefully help educate a vastly underserved demographic.