Optional Life Insurance

Experimentation with a conversational interface, helping clients purchase life insurance with our virtual agent, Ella.
SketchUserTesting.comCreative CloudInvisionProtopie


Earlier in the year, I had experimented with using conversational UIs to place Ella, our digital  coach, at the front of a users' interaction. The original use case was walking new parents through a basic financial plan, however, this project would apply the same concept to the world of optional benefits. These are insurance products that a client can choose to purchase through their benefits plan. The timeline for discovery and development was quite short. The ask was to adapt those same patterns and code to our optional life insurance flow.

Solution: Overcoming Knowledge Gaps

In our design, the user first lands on an interstitial page that outlines what optional benefits are and why they are important in simple language. This helped overcome initial knowledge gaps and established the need for purchase. The user could then choose to start  the assessment or learn more (this took the user to an extended assessment that featured a set of common questions — chosen and prioritized with real clients — and a video to explain optional life insurance). Lack of knowledge played a large role in drop-off. Therefore, we found it important to include an avenue for users who were still unsure of the product.

Solution: Structural Wins

At the start of the interaction, Ella tells the user how much life insurance they currently have. We learned that clients think of optional life insurance as an "add-on" rather than an entirely new product. Providing the client with this number helps them contextualize how much more coverage they might want. On top of that, our design added an embedded calculator to assess how much overall coverage a user needs. This removed the potential for users to leave our site to Google a tool or do napkin math based on our older PDF of coverage.

Solution: Behavioural Economics

We found that there was a lot of value in Ella talking to the user in a conversational, first-person manner. This tested really well with users and delighted Sun Life clients who had only experienced Ella in modals and banners. This choice greatly increased the engagement we saw on the page when compared to the older version. Our design was also influenced by how users actually thought about their optional benefits. With retail products, the customer is often driven by the coverage. With optional benefits, the customer is mainly focused on cost. Because of this, we showed three tiers of coverage — No Medical, On-a-Budget, and Maximalist — rather than one, singular option. This prioritized the cost, gave the user a feeling of choice, and let us better message specific value. Not having to submit medical information is a huge selling point and only applies when the coverage is under a certain amount.

Internal video showcasing the project, featuring an early design iteration
Demo of the final design


Our team was able to do a quick build that completely re-imagined the experience of purchasing optional life insurance. User interviews and regular testing enabled us to create a journey that matched client mental models and solved for potential pain points. The solution explained the concept, gave the user the choice to learn more, streamlined a disjointed flow, and made great leaps forward in terms of structure, interaction, and behavioural economics.

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