Driving Omnichannel Transformation

Mad*Pow was hired by USAA for a multi-project, multichannel design program to transform and modernize the buying and servicing of their insurance products. Our objectives were to improve the customer experience, maximize their use of the Digital channel and ultimately help members obtain protection easily and with confidence.


Despite the ubiquity of insurance in people’s lives, consumers have significant challenges buying insurance. In our research, most customers don’t understand the facets of a policy and don’t necessarily want to. Insurance itself is a low interest category, and generally an abstract concept. Also, our brains are not wired to assess risk appropriately for ourselves, a phenomenon known as the Optimism Bias. Mad*Pow’s Behavior Change designers worked closely with USAA to consider  a host of psychological factors such as this and all of which were crucial in designing customer experiences that promote commerce and ensure adequate coverage.

Through copious research activities with customers built to understand the mindset, motivations and buying behaviors Mad*Pow found that while some products were easier to understand or procure than others, each had specific scenarios that influenced our design approach. For example, Renter’s Insurance is often purchased to fulfill a landlord’s requirement while Valuable Property Insurance may be searched out to protect a beloved object – like a wedding ring or prized guitar. By understanding these member scenarios, we were able to imagine better ways to serve the member well connected to the underlying emotions in play.

USAA Workshop



Mad*Pow’s Design team held a number of strategic workshops with USAA stakeholders architected to explore divergent ideas for experience improvement. The USAA teams had representation across the organization from technology, product, customer service, business leadership, experience strategy and executive sponsorship. By working together with these stakeholders, we were able to generate great ideas worthy of exploring with members while also driving deeper consensus and teamwork – a required ingredient for enterprise initiatives like these.

As a basis for our design and strategy, the Mad*Pow team dug in to perform a deep experience audit of the insurance buying experience of all major competitors (AllState, Nationwide, GEICO), as well as the new entrants fighting for marketshare through disruption (Lemonade, Hippo). Additionally, we performed dozens of member interviews, observed members buying digitally, connected into dozens of member phone calls, all to build a deep understanding of the current experience and the opportunities for innovation and improvement.

Our ideas became digital prototypes used to validate, refine and iteration. For Renters Insurance, we explored ways we could show people the small incremental monthly cost associated with more coverage. For valuable property, we experimented with iconography and a more visually scannable visual approach to lower the burden. Umbrella insurance required more education and an activation of the member’s imagination to help make the liability scenarios that can really happen, more real.

We worked closely with the USAA product experts and in concert with the members themselves to test ideas eventually moving design into the production and implementation phase with confidence.



In our time together on this program, Mad*Pow built a very strong and cooperative relationship with the USAA design organization. Through the life of this program, Mad*Pow Experience designers and strategists worked very closely and intentionally with internal design. We ensured our work was consistent with an emerging design language system (DLS). We  became expert in the DLS patterns, and worked with USAA design leadership to incorporate new patterns when appropriate. We were also genuinely excited to collaborate with USAA designers and gaining additional perspective.

Our respective teams avoided an unhealthy competition in favor of learning from each other and staying aligned to the mission of serving the member. This collaborative model meant both organizations can claim success and feel ownership of what we produced in service of the business and the USAA member.

Key Insights:

Renters Insurance is much cheaper than people realize

It was clear in early research for Renters Insurance that people thought it was much more expensive that it actually was. In research interviews when asked to estimate the cost, most estimated 4 and 5x more than the actual cost of the policy.

  • We found members may be tempted to underestimate or undervalue their property thinking as a vehicle for a low premium (but creating a potential gap in coverage)
  • Consumers responded positively to user interface approach that allowed them to dial up policy aspects (like deductible or liability coverage)

Homeowners insurance is highly price-driven, and there’s a sweet spot in terms of the number of application questions to ask

While we all like a shorter form when buying financial products, our research found customers had lower confidence in the price quote if they were asked too few questions.

  • Customers to believe they might get the “real price”, inevitably more expensive if they decided to move forward
  • Customers want an accurate quote, quickly but also want the confidence that you know enough about them to provide true accuracy

People are motivated to protect the experiences their prized possessions deliver, not the objects themselves

When it comes to property insurance, customers responded to a content strategy that emphasized the experiences and benefits of their property - not the property. For example, our messaging might say “Protect your campfire songs” instead of “Protect your guitar."