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I’ve just returned from a hot, hectic and happy three days at Disneyland Paris with my wonderful family (the A, L and E to my A in Alea). Having survived 37 years without going near a Disney park the combined persuasive forces of my wife and 3 year old son won me over to give it a go this year.

MickeyDisney castle

Protection insurance was a long way from my mind on my break. Far more pressing issues were at play:

– are the queues shorter at the Pirates Of The Caribbean or Snow White ride?

– how do you get the “It’s a small world after all” song out of your head after spending too long on the one ride?

– how much better are the chipmunks names in French than English? – Tic and Tac rather than Chip and Dale?

Nevertheless as a first time visitor to Disney I couldn’t help but observe some things that struck a chord with the work side of my world:

– There are good 20 minute waits and bad 20 minute waits. A good 20 minute wait involved shade, movement and some pretty things to look at along the way. A bad 20 minute wait involved heat, confusion over what was happening next and boredom. We must make sure that our queues / applications are not just brief but are well signed, relevant and interesting for people. And not too uncomfortable.

– Parents do a lot for their children. It’s not cheap to be there, and most of your day is spent getting the balance between cuddling Mickey/Elsa/Space (sic) Lightyear, going on rides and mainlining sugar into the little treasures. Oh and each day you get to walk over 20,000 steps, half of which are with a 3 yr old or 18 month old in your arms. Life is about experiences and memories. If you love someone you do what it takes to make them happy. Protection needs to be something you feel you have to do when you love someone.

– A lot of the service really wasn’t that great. It took 35 minutes to get an ice cream and a bottle of water. We should start selling the proposition and stop self-hating the process so much. No application form I have ever been involved with would take that long to complete. Many whole processes from mentioning life insurance to having someone on risk take less time than it takes to get an ice cream and a drink at Disney.

– If you’ve got a bit more money (and/or a bit less time) you can get a VIP pass that lets you avoid the queue all together. There are different markets. Some people want convenience, others want cheap prices. It is essential to give a good product and process to both.

– A bit of glitz, glamour and fairy dust covers up a lot of pretty average things underneath. It helps when everything is perfect, but in reality when the day is as much queues and tears as rides and Rapunzel it really helps when there’s a great big, heartstring tugging parade just when you’re leaving the park. For many new potential customers the last thing they receive from an insurer is a confirmation schedule replaying their answers, or a direct debit mandate or similar. Sending something with sparkle at that point seems critical to either positively reinforce or even slightly change their perception. As one suggestion: a personal message from a recent claimant to a new policyholder congratulating them on their decision would seem relevant and rewarding at that point.

– There are 2.3 million UK visits to Disneyland Paris each year. Even allowing for families going on multiple days that’s a serious number. How many people who go to Disneyland have life insurance? Can we understand and segment our potential customers by “what they do for the people they love” rather than by the socio-economic group they are, their postcode or the newspaper they read? Marketing and designing appropriate products, features and queues (sorry applications) for people in this way could allow us to be much more relevant.


Of course if Geppetto could get involved in the underwriting process it may help us identify those who are non-disclosing with the one last question “After answering your application questions how long is your nose?” If Aladdin’s genie gave me three wishes I would use one of them to have every child ask their parents what would happen if their parents weren’t there and how they would be looked after. I admit I’d use the other two wishes for way more selfish things, but I think I’d deserve those after turning an industry round overnight!

Thankyou for reading this and putting up with my transition back into work mode. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the subject and some of the serious suggestions for improvement hidden within!

2 Responses to Protection by Disney
  1. Thanks for the article Andrew. A personal message from a recent claimant to a new policyholder congratulating them on their purchase is a nice idea, but how about a personal message to all those who have yet to purchase their insurance, or are going through the application process. I think the claims story is still very much undersold, yet those of us in Claims are the people who live the product, who make it come to life, and who experience first hand the reactions from our customers when we tell them a claim is being paid. We hear how much it means to people, the security it brings – perhaps being able to stay in their home or not having to worry about their bills as they seek to get better. Many claims assessors will have heard those tears of relief from the other end of the phone when a claimant is told their critical illness claim has been accepted, and it brings a lump to our throats too. If you could bottle that emotion, that relief, and the respite that this brings often at the darkest of times, then Protection insurance would sell itself – rather than having to be sold…well, maybe! My point is that there are many happy endings, many great stories, that we see and share in, but we as an industry should probably share these more widely – with our colleagues, our customers, and perhaps most importantly with those people who haven’t yet discovered the need for Protection such as many of those mums and dads queuing up with you at Disneyland Paris who all have someone they love very dearly, and who they need to protect should they die, suffer a serious illness or become unable to work in the long term. I believe the Claims stories have wider role to play than perhaps they currently do, alongside other worthy initiatives such as 7 families. One thing’s for sure though, all my Claims colleagues across the dusty should be very proud of what they do!

    • Thanks for the comment Phil, and totally agree with all that you say. The fact that even in many good sales environments the talk is more of statistics and policy wordings rather than real people and true stories is our biggest failing in our efforts to engage with potential customers.


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