How Can the Insurance Industry Contribute to Suicide Prevention?

In Britain, 17 people die of suicide daily on average, and men are three times more likely to take their own lives as women. Suicides have a tremendous impact on humans emotionally and trigger financial costs, so we decided to run a three-day Pop-Up Lab in London to understand how the insurance industry could contribute potential solutions for suicide prevention in the region.  

Suicide: a societal and insurance industry challenge 

When a claims manager from RGA in the UK raised the issue of how our industry could help prevent suicides, we began exploring the problem and learned of a number of people in the insurance industry who volunteer with non-profit organizations that focus on suicide prevention. 

One of these is Samaritans, a UK non-profit. We learned of a Samaritans marketing campaign that displayed posters on a rail line, promoting their suicide hotline. The result? Suicides on the rail lines decreased by 20 percent. This low-cost initiative clearly helped save many lives, as well as helping the rail industry serve their users better.

Considering how suicide affects our industry, healthcare and society in general (we estimate the UK life insurance industry paid out more than £100m on suicide claims in 2017), we were eager to contribute. Running a sprint using Cookhouse Pop-Up Lab would give us the opportunity to learn more and work with people directly impacted by this crisis in the region. If you think of Cookhouse Lab as a test kitchen, then the Pop-Up Lab is our food truck, bringing our skills and experience to collaborate with local experts in global locations.  

Using our network to bring people together to solve problems 

Despite the sensitive nature of this topic, we found that people were eager to get involved to find solutions for suicide prevention. All of the participants had both a personal and professional (i.e challenge in their organization) connection to this societal issue, and they came together to solve it. 

Usually, when running a Pop-Up Lab, we aim for a group size of six to eight participants. In this case, we had such a strong interest from candidates that we chose nine:  a diverse group of re/insurers, insurers and consultants, many with operational experience in actuary, claims, or underwriting. 

Participants of this Pop-Up Lab were from the following organizations: 

  • Agrippa 
  • Aviva 
  • EY 
  • Legal & General 
  • Munich Re 
  • Pacific Life Re 
  • Reinsurance Group of America 
  • SCOR 
  • Vitality 

 Two experts in the suicide prevention field also joined a session on the first day as masterminds, generously sharing their knowledge and experience to help the project team complete empathy and customer journey maps. In addition, the participants grabbed inspiration from 17 lightning demos about male suicide prevention tactics used by others. With much motivation and purpose, the team cooked up a diverse set of ideas and solutions.

In just three days this fast-moving project team created three solutions to save lives – a tremendous feat! Each solution targets suicide prevention at a different level: specific, macro and strategic. Let’s take a look at what they cooked up: 

Specific: This solution was formed to address the fact that the suicide of a relative can be a trigger event for other suicides. The project team came up with the idea for insurers to send a handwritten condolence note including information on how to seek help and self-care to a suicide-related claimant. This small but personal touch humanizes a currently formal touchpoint and could help reduce the claim suicide as a trigger event for another suicide among family or friends.  

Macro: The next solution was a macro-level campaign to promote mental health awareness and human interaction in London communities. The project team envisioned this happening by placing thirty six-foot penguins around London, which would encourage people to stop, think and interact.  

Strategic: The strategic level solution involved forming an industry working group that would catalyze actions within the insurance industry targeted at contributing to suicide prevention activities. The group would span operational teams (e.g. underwriting, claims) to address suicide from all perspectives in insurance.  

Solving an industry problem in one locale can have a global impact 

The problem of suicide is not limited to the UK. By devoting our attention and resources to thinking deeply about a problem, it shines a light on root causes and issues that people may have ignored  or overlooked. One of the biggest takeaways from this Pop-Up Lab was: don’t be afraid to tackle a sensitive subject. We all benefit when a workable solution is created, because it may spark an idea that can help solve a problem somewhere else. By looking at our industry’s processes through the lens of suicide, we identified many simple steps that could be taken to improve things. 

Similarly, there are other common challenges and problems that exist across the insurance industry and global communities. Doing a deep dive into these challenges in a specific region can trigger a positive change globally. 

Want to get involved with suicide prevention?  

Thank you to all of the participants for bringing their innovative minds and compassion together for this project. If your organization is interested in joining this group of innovators for the next steps for this project, or if you have an idea for another social challenge in need of an insurance industry solution, please contact us. 

Thanks to Jonathan Hughes for sharing insights from facilitating the Pop-Up Lab to contribute to this blog.

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The future of the Mobile Insurance Agents & Brokers

Innovation Project Summary Cookhouse Lab (in partnership with SAP)

The Future of the Mobile Insurance Agents & Brokers

What unites the majority of the sales experts in the industry is the necessity to be mobile to stay or become a trusted advisor.










Digitizing insurance sales with technology to increase sales performance and improve customer experience.


Our personas Pains & Gains








What are the digital expectations and requirements of an agent, broker and customer equally?

How can we help the salesforce to stay relevant, sell more and admin less?

How can we leverage technology trends to increase sales performance and improve customer experience?

What can we learn from other industries?

Maximizing the use of mobile technology will improve customer satisfaction.


The final output of the project was a Portfolio Solution that included two different products.


DIScovery and awareness app

Carebear app is a referral product to help our customer persona (Sandra) through the car insurance journey with the aim to validate the following problem statement:

How might we communicate our products and processes more effectively and efficiently to give Sandra clarity and confidence that she’s taken care of?


Brokers integrated portal

MOBiBro is an integrated application focused on our broker persona (Dave). The problem statement:

How might we provide Dave with technology and data access anywhere to become a better advisor so he can sell more and quicker?


During the 3 days, our project teams looked to define the Opportunities and Implicants that technology brings to the future of brokers and agents.


Empathy Maps


User Interviews








MVP Screens


Prototype Iterations


Project Presentation


We also offer intro sessions that provide insurance professionals with the opportunity to experience our Cookhouse Labs methodology and a sneak peek at what it’s like to co-create and collaborate with our global community. If you are not a Cookhouse Labs member and are interested in finding out more, check out our membership benefits!

Munich 2-Day Taster Session Recap: Disruption of Insurance through Tech Giants

A diverse community of insurance professionals convened in Munich in May 2018 to explore industry disruption from unlikely players – the world’s tech giants. The group came together to use new approaches and unlock methodologies to help navigate the future of the industry in our collaborative 2-day session. 

What is a taster session at Cookhouse Lab?

A taster session at Cookhouse Lab is a free 2-day session that gives organizations a chance to experience the methodology, process, and environment of Cookhouse Lab. The taster offers insurance professionals the opportunity to experience a mindset shift, access design thinking tools, connect with new industry peers, and get answers to questions about the benefits of Cookhouse Lab membership.

The session provides accelerated programming, leveraging the strategies and philosophies that are fully explored in the Lab’s 2, 4, and 12-week projects. Each taster offers insight into the full program experience while also providing a lens on a specific project topic.

What did participants do at the Munich 2-Day Taster Session?

The Munich taster focused on Disruption of Insurance through Tech Giants and offered local insurance organizations from across Europe a taste of our Pop-Up Lab in Munich, running from September 10 – 21 and culminating with final presentations at msg’s Insurance Conference inscom.

Over 2 days, the taster attendees:

  • Identified what tech giants are currently doing in insurance
  • Discovered consumers overall attitudes about insurance and what they know about tech giants
  • Researched unique value propositions that insurance organizations can offer to compete with tech giants
  • Looked at available resources from tech giants and explored how insurance organizations can leverage them to improve their customer experience

What methodology was used for the taster?

The Cookhouse Lab methodology was used to uncover trends, draw on intersections, and unlock value for the insurance professionals. Using design thinking tools and our proven project approach, we were able to develop innovative solutions to meet the needs of a changing insurance industry landscape. Over the 2-day session, we walked through all three phases of the process: the team completed their initial research online, created their interview questions and, as always, went out to talk to consumers to better understand their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on tech giant disruption.

Who participated?

This was a very fun group to work with! As an Intercultural Management consultant and coach, I enjoyed working with a team that was diverse, not only in terms of geographical location but also in terms of industry. Our participants joined us from the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. Our guests from Germany, SOKA BAU, were exclusively labourers insurance providers, a type of organization we don’t often see in our lab. Die Mobiliar from Switzerland and Nationale Niederlanden were also in attendance, and it was a pleasure to have msg colleagues and participants from their partners at SAP. The team was completed with members of another msg organization, minnosphere. The unique mix of experience and perspectives in the room made for incredible solutions and a fun, creative, and productive taster.

What were the outcomes of the Munich taster?

Every participant came away with their own unique insights, but it was fascinating to see how far each person could step outside of their comfort zone. Final presentations provided an overview of three viable solutions and were presented as a great mix of Pecha Kucha presentations, sketches, storyboards, and low-fi prototypes. The diversity in solutions and presentation styles was a great reminder of the importance of an open and creative mindset and attitude when innovating.

The three solutions the team crafted included:

  • Insure your Lifestyle: What if you could insure your lifestyle and make sure that what you have built is something you can enjoy for the rest of your life? What if your insurance supported you through your journey and, with your help and data, your provider could customize your packages to fit your current lifestyle while also taking into account future changes? For example, if you are currently a passionate snowboarder, when the time comes to rest your board you would be able to substitute coverage for a new hobby, maybe more beach travel or a different sport.
  • Be Insured: Imagine a life where you would pay one premium a year, in which everything you needed to cover was covered. A life where your insurance company would offer you packages based on specific settings you select like budget, items you want insured, trips you are taking, and family milestones like your teenager getting their license, or the beginning of your ‘empty nest’ with your youngest child’s graduation. Imagine a life where you can choose how to pay for your insurance, with cash or data. Every year, you could receive a report of how your data was used – a life where you do not need to look for insurance, insurance comes to you!
  • Insurance Concierge – Blockchain: Two of the most common questions related to insurance are what exactly do I need and how do I get it? When most people start that search, they come across too many options, most of which are not very clear, leading to a time-consuming and confusing search. Insurance Concierge takes care of those pain points. It is your digital concierge, built using access to your blockchain where all of your personal data has been securely stored. The concierge would not communicate with you, but with your digital twin – a twin designed by you! Now the communication, search, and offers are all managed by your concierge and your digital twin. When offers come in and coverage is required, you have the option to read and sign yourself OR handoff signing authority to your digital twin.

What future tasters can we look forward to in the Lab?

We have a one-of-a-kind taster coming up on June 26-28. Learn more about The Future of the Mobile Insurance Agents and Brokers taster here. What makes this taster unique is that participants will be taking part in a project that is focused on launching a solution. This means you get to co-create and be part of the journey as the project moves from a lo-fi prototype to a fully functioning product! This is an exciting opportunity as the Lab typically focuses on creating solutions, not launching them. This time, as we partner with msg, SAP, and Apple, you will have a chance to experience more and see the full process of bringing a product into market.

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How to Simplify Life Insurance Underwriting in 48 Hours

In the life insurance industry, there are many processes we encounter daily that have the potential to be modernized and made more efficient. The current underwriting process is no exception, with outdated rules, blanket questions that don’t allow for personalization, and long customer wait times that can take up to four to six weeks. This is a process that is ripe for disruption and last month, Cookhouse Lab invited underwriting professionals to try their hand at disrupting it in just 48 hours. 

This was done through a ‘taster session’ which gives professionals the chance to sample a variety of design thinking exercises that are used in regular Cookhouse Lab projects in a condensed time frame. 

This sprint, in particular, focused on making the life insurance underwriting process more time and resource-efficient to ultimately improve the customer experience. Read on to find out what processes were used to collaboratively identify three potential solutions in just 48 hours. 

Day 1 – Identifying Pain Points & Determining Customer Personas

On the first day, the team focused on conducting research and empathizing with the customer to really understand their mindset. Empathy is a critical component of design thinking to ensure that the solution has the end customer’s needs are at the forefront.  

Identifying Pain Points

The project team identified pain points of the demographic by running a ‘masterminds’ interview session. This involved meeting with a group of experienced underwriters to understand the current process from their point of view, their pain points and what their ideal process would look, feel and sound like. Through these interviews, the team identified the following pain points:

  • The current process has too many irrelevant questions
  • There lies a big gap in communication between the agent, insurance company, and the end customer
  • All age groups are being treated the same and asked the same questions
  • Data exists, but it isn’t accessible
  • The current application needs to be more dynamic

Determining Customer Personas

The team also identified two main customer personas that the solutions would be targeted towards:


  • 27 year old female that is living with her parents at the moment, but planning to have her own home one day and start a family
  • She is commitment-averse and prefers to avoid face-to-face communication when dealing with purchases
  • She enjoys social media and instant gamification.


  • 45 year old underwriter who has worked in the same organization for 20 years
  • He has a 15 year daughter and a 3 year old son.
  • He likes his way of doing things and is worried about automation
  • He believes in the power and value of underwriting and likes the medical knowledge he has acquired throughout his career
  • He is comfortable with the current system and is the type of person that feels the need to read every line on applications

Day 2: Developing Solutions

Using the research from Day 1, the project team continued their sprint on Day 2 to develop three possible solutions to better the current process.

Solution #1: Instant data collection, verification and clarity of product

This solution allows the agent to ask for permission from the customer to access various data pools that have collected valuable customer data, which would then be sent to a pre-filled application. Once the application is completed, the customer and agent would look over the information provided. At this point, the customer could make any necessary changes, edits or provide any missing information. Once the customer authorizes the application the agent is then able to provide possible policies based on the information given, which provides a custom solution that fits for each individual customer. 

Underwriter BenefitsCustomer Benefits
Instant and authorized access to the data poolPeace of mind on how the agent is collecting information
Clarification on information collectedA better understanding of what information the agent is collecting
No need to go over the entire questionnaire, which may hold irrelevant questionsClarity on the value of their policy
 Allows for the opportunity to ask questions without lengthy waiting time periods

Solution #2: Simplified Application – Max 10 Qs

Instead of a standard application, this online question solution would contain a maximum of 10 key questions that customers are asked. The questions would have smart logic and adjust depending on the respondent’s answers and would prompt the user it needs further information. In addition to being more efficient, this solution is also millennial-friendly as it allows the target group to skip lengthy unnecessary and/or irrelevant questions. Key question categories:

  1. Lifestyle (Alcohol consumption, Drug use, Driving history, Criminal activities)
  2. MIB report
  3. Medical-related (prescription medication)
  4. Foreign travel
  5. Immigration status
Underwriter BenefitsCustomer Benefits
Shorter application processClear and relevant questions
A questionnaire that is adaptable, and therefore relevant for all customersShorter application process

Solution #3: Starter Plan

A product designed for university graduates and parents with children in university. Starter Plan is designed to be marketed through universities during orientation and months leading to graduation, student loan distributors and entry-level employers. The plan would be based on:

  1. DI protection
  2. 50K coverage for 2 years
  3. Financial education
  4. Personalized dashboard with incentives and possible products as the life of the customer changes
Underwriter BenefitsCustomer Benefits
Financially educated customersFinancial education
Data collection from an earlier ageMore accurate and customized products
Engagement from the millennial generationParents have peace of mind regarding insurance and their young adult’s coverage
 Parents have peace of mind knowing that they’ve set their child up for a good start.

Unlocking Innovative, Disruptive Ideas in 48 Hours

In just two days this project team was able to create three viable solutions to solve an industry-wide problem – which is a huge accomplishment! Through these solutions, they were able to achieve the following: 

  • Offer an efficient and speedy process to underwrite a policy
  • Engage the most challenging age group for life insurance to attract at the moment (millennials)
  • Build customer trust and financial literacy

Want to join in on the innovation? We’ve got a full schedule of projects coming up in 2018. Check them out here!

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Free Taster: How to Innovate in Two Days

Take a moment to reflect on the last problem you wanted to solve, issue you wanted to change or great idea you wanted to implement in your professional environment.

Were you able to solve the problem? Change the issue? Implement the idea? Or did execution fail because you didn’t have time to get around to it.

This can often happen when organizations approach innovation. The concept seems like this ‘big, scary, time prolonged’ project that no one has time for. BUT it doesn’t have to be. And our recent 2-day innovation sprint in Munich, Germany can prove it.

Cookhouse Lab ventured to Munich last month to invite local innovators to test our concept of open innovation and co-creation during a 2-day innovation sprint. Think of it as a ‘free taster’ to get a sense of the speedy innovation that takes place at Cookhouse Lab. 

The team was tasked with developing a solution for insurance loyalty and rewards in just 2 days. After reading this blog, I think you’ll be surprised to see just how much can be accomplished in a short but focused time frame.

Discover how the team used Cookhouse Lab’s design thinking methodology to successfully innovate in two days!

Day 1

Learning the Cookhouse Lab Methodology & Understanding the Customer

The day began with two goals:

  1. Learning about the Cookhouse Lab methodology – At Cookhouse Lab, our projects start with a Lean Startup exercise, followed by the phases of Design Thinking as supported by a variety of tools. The ultimate goal is to develop a high-level set of business processes and use cases.
  2. Getting more insights on the project’s problem statement – Creating an insurance loyalty & reward program to retain and strengthen consumer relationships and mitigate risks. 

Identifying and understanding the problem statement are critical in design thinking to ensure your solution is actually solving a real problem. For this project, it was to fix the problem of insurers not knowing how to show customers that they care about their life, wellness and behavioral changes, and thus how to retain them. 

Armed with this information, the team went on to define what they wanted to learn about current customers, their behavior, interests, fears, etc. Working together as a team, they selected the most impactful questions they could ask the average consumer to gain the right data. 

Interviewing real people to gain real insights

Breaking out into pairs, the team interviewed people from around our Pop-up lab in Munich in the Werksviertel-Mitte and at the Ostbahnhof (East train station) areas. Through these interviews, the team gained true insights and were able to pick up on key elements that consumers value and that could be improved upon when it comes to insurance products and services.

Reserve your spot for our next Free Taster: Do We Need A Micro-Annuities Product?

Interviewing real people allows you to empathize with customers to understand their wants, needs and current views on insurance. This is essential to design thinking so that you can truly understand their pain points instead of making assumptions.

The day ended with the team reflecting on their learnings and highlighting key ingredients that would help them create a persona, ideate on possible solutions and test concepts on day two.

Day 2

Morning – Defining the Solution

Next, it was time to define the solution for our topic. The team went through a timeline exercise where they quickly brainstormed 10 ideas that could be implemented in the different time frames of: next week, 3 years, 10 years, and 50 years. The team did an amazing job at staying committed, energized and continued to push themselves out of their comfort zone. After this activity, the team shared all of their ideas and voted on the top four concepts they wanted to take to market to test.

After a good night’s sleep, the team kicked off day two by working on a persona and iterating through the problem statement using actual feedback from potential end-users. Iteration is another key ingredient of design thinking. It involves a continuous cycle of concept creation, testing, failing quickly and concept reiteration.

Afternoon – Testing & Results

The final half of the day was used to elaborate on the four final concepts and determine which questions they would ask their test market to determine the winning solution.

Once defined, the team had one hour to go back to the market to test their concepts. They managed to interview more than 25 people! Not bad for an hours’ work. The purpose of this testing round was to define which of the four concepts would be the chosen one, based on customer feedback.

The testing round was a highlight for the team as their test market was engaged with and curious about all four concepts. Several customers even went on to tell the team what else each concept should have to make it even more useful, transparent and engaging.

Taking the time to test concepts with the end-user helps you confirm if there is indeed a market for your solution. The good news is, if there is no interest, you can go back an reiterate! This process reduces the risk of finding out there is no market for your solution after a large monetary or time investment has been made.

Prototype Creation

The final phase of this innovation sprint was prototype creation. Since the team received positive feedback on all four concepts, they went on to design the following low fidelity prototypes using arts and crafts material:

Alexa for insurance – Alexa now manages insurance claims and policies with the support of the user. For example, if you have an accident Alexa would detect it and would start contacting the insurance company and helping you collect vital information on the spot like taking photos of the damages, exchanging insurance details, etc.

Insurance watch – a smart insurance watch. When it comes to P&C, you can control settings that will help you secure your insured items i.e. locking home, vehicle, receive notifications in case of fire or flooding, can offer accident prevention based on forecast. Life – it can capture activity, exercises, pulse, etc. and keep this is part of your profile. All this information can help you make better choices for your upcoming policy renewals.

Dr. Mirror – a mirror that insurance companies give to their clients that is used to help customers have a better understanding of their health and send necessary information to insurance companies for initiating claims and maintaining them up to date. For example, if a customer wakes up not feeling well and stands in front of a mirror, the mirror will do a full scan and give a diagnosis and suggestion for next steps. If this is a serious illness, the customer will be then be scheduled with a doctor or an ambulance will be called. This triggers the start of the claim process and updates the client’s medical history. The client then has easy and clear access to what is recorded and how to proceed with any insurance-related matters.

Insurance app – have it all done in an app, including news related to your policies, current policies, expiration reminders, integrated chatbot (which Cookhouse Lab is working on soon!

The power of speed innovation

In less than two days, the Munich team proved the power and speed of innovation. They went from being a group of curious strangers to a collaborative team with four tangible prototypes.

During the two day taster the team learned how to:

  • Empathize with customers to understand their wants, needs and current views on insurance
  • Iterate through problem statement to define solution
  • Test concepts on customers
  • Create low fidelity prototypes

Reserve your spot for our next Free Taster: Do We Need A Micro-Annuities Product?

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Risk Exposure Data Warehouse – Learnings and Wrap Up

Cookhouse Lab completed its first taster session at the beginning of this month, with the goal of enabling participants to experience Design Thinking at Cookhouse Lab, whilst opening collaborative discussion on a key industry topic. The session lasted two days in total (which included a final presentation and BBQ) and focused on the topic of a risk exposure data warehouse (REDW). 

What is a risk exposure data warehouse (REDW)? 

Simply put, a REDW is the concept of a single repository where all data relating to real property and associated buildings may be stored, enriched and managed. This would require multiple insurance organizations within Canada (as a start) to agree to share data, agree on where to store the data, and agree on how to manage the data. This is not an easy process.

However, there is clear value to be gained by establishing such a repository.

What value does a REDW offer? 

There are a couple of key benefits in establishing a REDW.

Better risk management

The first is better risk management, enabled by gaining access to historical property data. The second benefit is the potential for a better customer experience. With all the data available, insurance organizations would be able to reduce the length and complexity of the customer sign-on experience. Participants on the project agreed that although property data is inherently valuable, and therefore less likely to be shared, what is done with the data is potentially far more valuable than the data itself.

Monetization of data

This leads us on to the second area of value which is monetization of the data. End users, banks and members of the real estate industry would find huge value in data detailing the risk events associated with a property. Such data could influence which house an end user may purchase, the rate at which a bank may grant a mortgage, or how realtors sell property. These users could be charged a sum to gain access to this data, either through individual insurers or directly from the manager of the warehouse.

Next Steps

This taster session was a way of starting industry conversation around the possibility of a REDW. If you are interested in pursuing this topic further in a collaborative setting at Cookhouse Lab, let us know!

Want more? Check out the Risk Exposure Data Warehouse management report:

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