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March 26, 2015

The Insurance Agent of the Future?

Summary:

Maybe homeowners will immediately adapt to apps that reduce risks, but big data may create a role for the insurance agent of the future.

Photo Courtesy of Sean MacEntee

Recently, my 80-something mother bought an iPad to replace one of the first models, which is now obsolete (can’t upgrade the iOS!). So, though she is an always-with-some-trepidation user, she’s no Luddite. After her second day with the new device, she called me with some alarm to say that someone named Siri was trying to hack into her iPad (for you non-iOS users, Siri is the name of the iOS speech recognition software – a new feature for my mom).

This got me thinking about big data and the role of the insurance agent in the future. My thinking goes something like this…

Insurance Agent of the Future

Insurance of the future will be beyond indemnification for losses (at an actuarially fair price, of course) and will include loss reduction in some way, whether through direct action or indirect advice.

Let’s think about home automation and monitoring systems, a.k.a., the connected home, or “telematics for the home,” delivered through companies such as Keen, SNUPI and Revolv. Think thermostats, video cams, carbon monoxide and fire/smoke detectors, storm shutter and roof single sensors, refrigerator and freezer sensors, door lock sensors, etc. The capabilities are going to be integrated and will involve big (data).

Some company – maybe insurance companies, maybe those giant B2C companies like Google and Amazon, maybe some others – will take all that data and present it back to the consumer in an intelligent manner. Here is where loss reduction becomes very interesting. Companies could take direct action through automated activation of alarms and shutdown of systems when storms are approaching. Indirect advice might mean notifying a homeowner of unlocked doors, foot traffic in the house and refrigerator doors opening and closing.

Where does the agent come in? Maybe Google or Amazon and ADT will just get this all to simply work: Download the app, and it tells you what to do. But maybe the consumer will want some help with all this data and all this activity: what filters to tighten, what sensors to de-activate and what data is needed to get the right coverage at the right price.

Maybe the Geek Squad needs to morph to the Home Monitoring Squad. And the Home Monitoring Squad sure sounds like the possible insurance agent of the future – tech-savvy, risk-savvy and comfortable conversing with 80-year-olds.

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About the Author

Steve Kronsnoble is Wipfli’s insurance industry practice leader, helping companies gain actionable insight from data, understand and serve their customers, react quickly to economic and competitive changes and modernize technology to support their business objectives.

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