Control of the Month: 21st Century Insurance

The latest auto insurance mailing by 21st Century Insurance to reach Grand Control status (in the mail for at least three years) is a prime example of the time-honored rule: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It first appeared in the Who’s Mailing What! Archive‘s mailstream in February 2007, but until this past February, it was mailed by the financial services giant American International Group (AIG), which had bought 21st Century back in the 1990s. Smartly, Farmers Insurance Group, 21st’s new owners, decided to revive a mailing that had worked so well in the past.

Some companies rely on cute mascots or well-known slogans to get their names out there. With this effort, however, the insurance company name brand isn’t important. Indeed, the front of the #10 outer carries only the logo of the NJEA (New Jersey Education Association). Below that are two windows, one with the prospect’s name (identified as “NJEA Member,” and the other showing a “verification” number with a dollar amount (“601.78”). It’s enough of a tease for the addressee to open the envelope, perhaps thinking that some important communication from her union is inside.

Well … not exactly. The offer is “NJEA-Sponsored,” though, and the two-page letter makes it clear why the relationship with this professional association can be so important to the prospect. According to the letter, it’s not “car insurance just anyone off the street can get. It’s a special program with benefits and rates exclusively for NJEA members.” The skeptical prospect is then shown a bevy of charts to bolster the claimed average annual savings of $601.78.

The first chart asks “Who was lower?” and “How much lower?”, with a checklist comparison of 21st with its competitors (e.g., Allstate, GEICO) and average dollar amounts of savings. As one would expect, all are in favor of 21st Century. The next chart addresses concerns over the quality of coverage, noting that because of the insured’s relationship with NJEA (again, the exclusivity factor), “there’s no deductible for claims on school property or when traveling on association business.” That’s surely a valid concern for any teacher who parks in the same lot as student drivers. Lastly, the letter boasts of the company’s “customer-friendly service,” and the acompanying chart describes the benefits of its claims reporting, payment and personal assistance.

Sprinkled throughout the letter, as the pitch is made, is a call to action, to get a “FREE QUOTE” through a “special toll-free number.” Besides the five mentions in the letter, the phone number also appears on a separate “Note to self” lift piece, which repeats the main selling points, and also includes the NJEA logo, as yet another reminder to the prospect of the benefits of her membership (Archive code #420-414995-1002).

Publish date: May 13, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT