There are currently no insurance based chats, but we are exploring a couple options and invite others to create twitter chats about insurance. For now the chats most beneficial to helping your insurance marketing efforts are:
1. #smchat: Exploring and driving the new social media paradigm. Be ready for a discussion that’s sometimes technical but always lively.
2. #smmeasure: This chat is all about measuring your social media efforts. Others share how they see their ROI and analytics.
3. #blogchat: This chat is all about BLOGGING. Get tips from professionals on how to make your blog better, and connect with people who have similar issues.
4. #wpchat: A chat all about WordPress. Everyone has been frustrated with it before, get some quick tips and ideas!
*All chats times are EST. See the full list of twitter chats.
Along with participating in Twitter chats, you can use #hashtags in your everyday tweets when discussing insurance, local events, or anything for that matter, and create a Twitter search to monitor the #hashtags. Likewise, by using these #hashtags, people will be able to see your tweet when searching for the terms.
You can also search for terms to make connections with like-minded Twitter users, or maybe even reach out to a prospect who is having a negative, insurance-related experience (tactfully). Geographic locations also make good #hashtags because they identify people in your area that are involved with local events or business.
Lastly, some people use hashtags to inject humor into the conversation. For example, one may tweet something like, “Listening to Backstreet Boys station on @Pandora_Radio #dontjudge,” or “Seasoned hunter mauled by bear…in his back yard #irony.”
Using multiple #hashtags in one tweet happens (#car #insurance), but it’s NOT advisable to load every single post with a bevy of #s. It gives the appearance of someone not concerned with making connections but only appearing in searches, cluttering your posts while likely driving followers away. Some popular #hashtags for the industry with no specific chat time are:
• #workerscomp (Every Wednesday follow and use this #hashtag along with @WorkCompEdge for discussion of workers compensation)
• #health (#insurance)
• #car (#insurance)
• #life (#insurance)
Previously, we discussed, Alligator wrangling on the rise in Florida: Over-development and drunk idiots to blame, discussing how there is approximately one alligator for every 12.5 humans and the insurance-related challenges this co-existence can create.
Moving further offshore, in honor of last week’s Discovery Channel, “Shark Week”, we’re exploring a health insurance related issue brought to life by one predator of the sea and its appetite for human arms. The high-profile ordeal of a vacationing Florida man recently brought a media feeding frenzy to the topic of sharks, traveling abroad and insurance.
Luis Hernandez was swimming off a boat in the Bahamas when he was attacked by a shark that shredded his arm to pieces. Blessed to be saved by his wife who pulled him safely onto the boat, the man literally had to sit and wait, bleeding in a large transport plane while his credit card was run for $7,500, covering the cost of the medical evacuation. Also using his credit card, the shark-bitten man was able to pay an additional $13,000 for Bahamian medical care and transportation to a specialized U.S. hospital, but all told, Luis was on the hook for close to $700,000 in medical costs for surgery and recovery.
Facing financial ruin and reduced mobility with his arm, Luis followed all the protocols of his insurance company, which were extensive, and was able to recuperate his medical expenses while gaining 70% of his arm strength. Despite the somewhat happy ending, this whole scenario raises many questions about health insurance coverage when travelling out of the country. The fact is, not all health insurance plans operate the same when you leave the country.
Fortunately, the government has taken steps to provide information for those travelling abroad by creating the Travel.State.gov website. On its homepage the site states the following:
Before going abroad, learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, REMEMBER to carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of such insurance and a claim form. Although many health insurance companies will pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States. Medical evacuation can easily cost $10,000 and up, depending on your location and medical condition.
Underscoring a message for retired or senior citizen travelers, the site makes it clear in ALL CAPS and bold that: THE SOCIAL SECURITY MEDICARE PROGRAM DOES NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR HOSPITAL OR MEDICAL COSTS OUTSIDE THE U.S.A. Supplemental life insurance is available as a backup.
Additionally, Travel.State.gov offers additional resources for travelers going abroad including:
Air Ambulance/Med-Evac Companies
Avian Flu Fact Sheet
Foot and Mouth Disease Fact Sheet
Chemical/Biological Agents Fact Sheet
Responding to Radiological and Nuclear Incidents
Next time you or a customer plans an adventure vacation that involves diving with sharks, going on safari or a jungle expedition, it’s a good idea to review what IS and IS NOT covered by insurance, just in case your arm ends up as a meal.
According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, 61% of adult internet users in America (205 million), “…looked for information or completed a transaction on a government website in the twelve months preceding.”
In sharing this study, SearchEngineLand’s Debra Mastaler signaled a call to action for bloggers and web professionals looking to harness the local and national masses flocking to government websites. How you say?
People visit government websites for many different reasons. There’s the DMV, (un)employment, recreational licenses, social services, tourism, business licenses, issue/policy research, military and endless other forms and information sources. Even on the surface, with the right strategy, it’s not a stretch to make insurance marketing parallels.
To be clear, this is not a “get rich quick” strategy, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Leveraging a government website’s search engine traffic takes a balanced effort of optimizing links to the government sites, titles, content and making it readable and interesting enough to inspire people to share.
Look for hot-button issues and take a neutral but informative insurance-related stance. If you sell health insurance, optimize for the public health provider (in Rhode Island, its RIte Care) and be there to help people who are no longer covered. People seeking DMV forms need insurance. Business owners seeking licenses need insurance.
Insurance agencies that are situated in active hunting communities may consider Outdoor Insurance options to rank up with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Be creative and use your own online government experiences as inspiration.
As mentioned, this strategy takes a commitment, but the potential “sticky link bait” created by leveraging government websites can prove to be a source of organic internet leads for the long haul.
Two articles published over the last two weeks put non-marketing insurance industry social media issues at the forefront, discussing the risks involved with social web engagement in two different scenarios. The first article, “How Insurance Companies Will Influence Rates Based On Your Tweets: Social Insurance Rates,” by Jeremiah Owyang, a respected blogger and strategist with the Altimeter Group, looks at how insurance companies will perform lifestyle reconnaissance via social media for clues on risky or healthy behavior, and adjust policy rates accordingly.
On the surface, it seems like a proactive move for health insurance companies, but the article points out several obvious challenges as customers wise up to nosy insurance providers. With plenty of legal, privacy and insurance marketing concerns unresolved, the ramifications are just starting to be hashed out.
The most interesting part of the article was Mr. Owyang’s conclusion on how the various “Social CRM techniques” could evolve into full-fledged, opt-in wellness programs sponsored by insurance companies that could result in reduced “Social Insurance Rates.”
“I would expect health and insurance companies to offer an opt-in method for existing wellness programs to be extended to tools like online education courses, participating in wellness programs with peers (like Nike Plus) or allowing members to submit location based checkins to the gym, healthy eating, and other pro-health activities,” writes Mr. Owyang. “We should expect that a forward-thinking insurance or wellness company offers an online incentive based program to encourage members to connect to each other, become more educated, and live a healthy lifestyle.”
While socially connected wellness programs like the one described may be years away, the vision of insurance companies incentivizing a healthy lifestyle monitored via the web sounds both promising and a bit scary. Do we want our health insurance companies to have even more personal information just to save a few extra bucks?
On the flip, few people will object to living longer and spending less on insurance as long as it doesn’t require a huge effort, and it seems wholly possible that opt-in wellness programs could achieve mass appeal among the health conscious who are already engaged on the social web. With the right promotion, these programs could even be a valuable image boost to an industry with a perpetual black eye.
Wellness programs already exist through some group health insurance plans, but the challenge will be scaling it up to accommodate millions of individual and family plans as health care becomes more readily available (mandatory?) by 2014. The fact that health insurance companies are still figuring out the social web combined with the vast resources necessary to process all this new data will create its own set of challenges.
Health care reform has created an “arms race” of sorts between health insurance providers positioning themselves for a windfall of customers as the legislation takes shape, while weeding out the unhealthy. Even with the challenges, playing to an increasingly social and plugged-in population is hardly a risk.
PART II – Insurance Risk and the Social Web, Keep Digital Foot out of Mouth.