The more conservative mutual insurance companies are very much in fashion now, benefiting from a favorable contrast to the industry's most aggressive public insurance company. Clearly, there's something to be said for more restrained and prudent decision-making. However, conservatism in risk-taking and innovative use of the Internet are not, if I may put it this way, mutually exclusive. Proof of that proposition may be found in the Quiet Company's use of Web 2.0 capabilities to reach the public.Northwestern Mutual is working on various Web 2.0-related initiatives, according to a senior technology officer whom I talked to last week, but today the company issued a press release encouraging individuals to use the carrier's "Lifespan Calculator" to gauge whether they're likely to outlive their assets. The online application processes responses to questions about 13 lifestyle factors, including height, weight, family history of cardiac disease, diet and exercise. Individual responses are run against information from the National Center for Health Statistics, according to Northwestern Mutual.
The Lifespan calculator balances credibility and simplicity, and is presented in a low-key but attractive style. For all that, it could be described as just another need-analysis tool among many. What is interesting is the insurer's press release's indirect incitement to circulate the calculator through social networking:
Share and Compare on Facebook
So now you can see how long you might live, but how does that compare to your friends and family? Social networkers on Facebook can also download the new Lifespan Calculator Facebook application to compare their life expectancy score with that of other Facebook friends.
"Young people personalize everything, from cell phone ring tones, social network profiles and mp3 playlists," said [Northwestern Mutual senior vice president Meridee] Maynard. "The Facebook application adds a personal dimension to your life expectancy score, showing how long you might live compared to those who matter most to you. These are the people that will provide support along the way as you work to meet your goals, both personal and financial."Northwestern's Lifespan calculator balances credibility and simplicity, and is presented in a low-key but attractive style. For all that, it could be described as just another need-analysis tool among many. What is interesting is the insurer's press release's indirect incitement to circulate the calculator through social networking
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio