`Alexa, find me the cheapest car insurance.’ That’s the future for many consumers as regards comparison searches, but will Amazon itself begin to offer insurance products by way of reply?
Perhaps the US company’s new employee benefit, Amazon Care, is a dummy run for the global online retailer to offer general insurance products to the wider public? That is one of things that concentrates the minds of insurers, brokers and agents around the world, because Amazon obviously has the financial muscle to aggressively market such products, utilising its popular Alexa/Echo voice gadget, plus well established app.
Amazon Care is an employee healthcare insurance plan, and lots of companies offer that – it’s nothing new. But as GlobalData reports, it could be a testing ground to see how strong the Amazon brand is in terms of consumer trust and loyalty.
Ben Carey-Evans, Insurance Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Moving medical insurance services in-house provides companies with more control over what they offer employees, allowing them to tailor packages specifically to their workforce’s needs. GlobalData’s UK SME Adoption of Employee Benefits 2018 report found that there were clear differences in what employees from different generations want.
“Baby boomers value basic salary most highly (53%), followed by another financial-based bonus in pension contributions (21%). This is similar among Generation X (53% basic salary and 12% pension contributions), but there is a clear shift in Generation Y. This younger generation of workers are less incentivized by basic salary (44%) and are more interested in work-life balance (13%), which they consider to be the second most important benefit.”
Amazon is the latest big company to offer an in-house insurance and health benefit scheme. Amazon Care will include virtual and actual care via apps, chat facilities, remote videos and follow-up visits. Starting out in Seattle, the scheme will likely be rolled out further if successful.
Carey-Evans concluded: “Tech companies such as Amazon – which often employ younger (or at least digitally savvy) employees – are ideally placed to design products that address the work-life balance. By focusing on what their employees value most, the likes of Amazon will be able to attract and retain individuals in the competitive tech space. It should also allow them to reduce costs by cutting out the middle man. The fact that so many large corporations are experimenting with this approach suggests it is an emerging theme – and one that must be concerning for health insurers and employee benefit providers.”
Insurance Edge Comment:
Amazon Care is really a virtual GP service when you look at its functions in detail. It saves the company time because employees will get basic diagnosis online, and perhaps a prescription issued during work-time. The company also gets to know more about employee medical history, so there is a duty of care aspect to all this.
For more in-depth health and life insurance, Amazon will still need an underwriter, and we think that despite the company’s deep pockets, it cannot be the true underwriter when it comes to serious illness and all the medical care that goes with those scenarios. At best, it can offer an agency, a go-between type of service, which may well work smarter that some traditional healthcare plans.