1950s Billing Innovation Goes Viral
A seemingly minor tweak in process turned out to have ripple effects far beyond Pacific Mutual in the early 1950s when Ted Reeve led an initiative to alter the company’s billing system for those making monthly payments. With the “Budget-Pack” plan, the company began sending a bill once a year in a single package with 12 monthly payment envelopes.
Previously, policyholders who paid their premiums on a monthly basis received a notice in the mail each month. It doesn’t seem like a huge change for just 12 percent of the company’s policyholders, until considering the cost of the preparation and postage of the notices and policy payment envelopes month after month.
Within a few months, insurance industry peers including the Asahi Mutual Life Insurance Company of Tokyo and the Veterans Administration for National Service Life Insurance started asking Pacific Mutual to share the procedure so they could emulate it.
“We are exceedingly grateful for your cooperation in permitting us to ‘steal your stuff.’ We found that the sample (of the Budget-Pack plan) sent to us was adaptable to our needs with only minor changes,” the VA wrote.