Insurers Adopt a Premium Policy
Question: What's one thing life, death, cars, boats, homes, mortgages, vacations and beloved family pets all have in common?
Answer: There's a companyor two or 100out there eager to insure them.
And while premiumsof the direct mail varietymay not be as pervasive among these companies as they are in others, more and more insurance mailers are turning to free gifts to help ensure that theirs is the policy prospects choose.
While insurance volume in the Who's Mailing What! Archive for 2005 is on par with previous years, premium use is up significantly. So far in 2005, premium use is hovering around 10.4 percent, which is an increase of more than 100 percent over 2004's 4.7 percent. Part of this surge can be attributed to the spring; premium use jumped from just 5.9 percent in the first quarter of this year to 11.7 percent in the second quarter. And while numbers for September are not yet available, the third quarter is on pace to continue this trend, with July at 17.4 percent and August at 10 percent.
Overall, premium use in the insurance sector currently is dominated by a couple of mailersmostly in the auto categorythat rely heavily on the tactic. Of those, The Hartford is the mailer with the longest-term control premium: a desk calculator it has been offering AARP members since at least 1999. The calculator, which is branded with both AARP and The Hartford logos, is free to members who request an auto insurance quote. In the program's current control, a #10 effort the Archive has been receiving since August 2004, the premium is promoted with an image on the back of the outer envelope and the teaser, "FREE Thank you GIFT ... Just for helping us help you!" The calculator also is featured on both sides of the reply device (Archive code #420-178519-0507A).
It's possible, however, that this calculator premium may be fatiguing. This year, The Hartford has been mailing two new premiums: an atlas, which the Archive received offers for in March and May, and a flip-open clock/calculator, which we saw in July and August (Archive code #420-178519-0508). Like its more basic predecessor, this flip-open premium is available to AARP members who request a free quote, and is featured on both the envelope and the reply device. But, in a break from the control, the offer mails in a 6" x 11-1/2" snap-pack and is featured on a dedicated insert. It also does not appear that the clock/calculator is branded with the insurer's logo.
New York Life Insurance is another mailer fond of the calculator; the Archive has been receiving offers for a pocket version since 2002. But New York Life also mails targeted
efforts with equally targeted premiums, such as a baby calendar for new parents, which the Archive received in April 2004 (Archive code #460-172661-0507), and an "Asian-Indian T-shirt," presumably mailed to prospects of Indian descent (Archive code #460-172661-0507). Oddly enough, nowhere in the mailing is there an image of this "Asian-Indian T-shirt."
Alternately, 21st Century Insurance has been leaving nothing to prospects' imaginations since it entered the premium fray in July 2004 with a gas card premium it has been mailing heavily ever since. While the auto insurance provider has tested different creative formats for this offer, the personalized, #10 effort the Archive received in July seems to be its control, having appeared consistently since the start of the year (Archive code #420-414995-0507). In it, 21st Century teases its gas card through an oversized address window that shows an image of a hand pumping gas with the teaser, "We'll send you a FREE $20 GAS CARD if we can't beat your current insurance price!" written below. With the cost of gas steadily rising, this premium likely will prove to be very effective for 21st Century for months to come. (And it may be a good test for other mailers as well.)
Some other insurance premiums of interest received by the Archive recently include:
* Blockbuster gift card for a quote on a home and auto umbrella plan from Arbella Insurance Group (Archive code #460-701085-0506);
* $100 travel certificate for an insurance quote from AAA of Southern California (Archive code #420-182432-0506A); and
* Travel kit (containing such items as shoe polish, sewing kit, toothbrush and nail clippers) with enrollment in a flight insurance program from American Express Property Casualty (Archive code #455-642930-0508).