Tag Archives: augmented reality

8 Key Insurtech Trends for 2019

The industry used to be a tech laggard. No more. Though there’s still much work to be done, most insurers are now better-positioned to capitalize on their investment in technology.

Here are eight key tech trends that continue to shape the industry:

  1. Greater stress on cybersecurity

An Ernst & Young security survey revealed that 59% of respondents had encountered a significant cybersecurity incident in their organization. Because insurers store so much sensitive personal and business data, they’re a prime target.

Cybersecurity strategy should be focused on proactive measures rather than reactive strategies. Cyber-crooks are relentless and inventive. Security has to be a top priority for insurers of all types and sizes.

2. Filling a gap in employee benefits automation

While group proposals and policy administration are both well-automated, between the two comes group onboarding, which has not been automated.

But solutions are being developed and implemented. Onboarding solutions will be built on automated data capture and importing. Data integrity is crucial. Employee information must be correct and complete when entered.

The solution must also offer robust data security and comply with privacy regulations to securely gather and store employee information. Flexibility is also mandatory because integrating onboarding closely with both proposal and policy systems is essential to efficient workflow.

See also: Connected Insurance Comes of Age in 2019  

3. Cloud computing

Cloud computing will continue to be adopted widely by insurers and insurtech providers as it is cost-effective, speedy and flexible. Cloud providers will continue to improve their technology to deliver sophisticated capabilities.

The security risks associated with housing data off-site via a third-party, however, can present challenges. While cloud storage companies are expected to protect data, ultimately insurance IT departments are responsible for their cybersecurity. That requires constant vigilance, hiring skilled people and spending enough money.

4. Internet of things and big data

IoT continues to become more useful. Insurers can use real-time data to meet and enhance business objectives. This can boost efficiency and revenue and promote better customer service.

As the Big Data revolution continues to expand, IoT adoption in the insurance industry is expected to grow. It will enable collection of data in real time, resulting in lower premiums for insureds willing to participate. There will be continuing adoption of connected devices for loss prevention and pricing in property-casualty, life and health insurance.

5. Analytics

Analytics can transform big data into actionable insights. As analytics and data science advance, insurers can better extract value from the huge amounts of data that now exist. Insurers can then leverage sophisticated information analytics to gain a competitive edge in the market.

For insurtech providers, there is a huge opportunity in the coming years to develop advanced analytical technologies that can make sense of unstructured data such as real-time video, social posts and live blogging.

6. Artificial intelligence

In 2018, more insurance and insurtech companies found effective ways to integrate AI. In 2019, companies will complement a significant part of their structured data decision-making with AI data analysis and decision-making.

Robotic process automation will begin to gain a wider application facilitating automation of repetitive processes across the entire IT infrastructure. Robotics and AI can offer improved productivity, shortened cycle times and better compliance and accuracy.

See also: How Insurtech Helps Build Trust  

7. Augmented reality

Augmented reality is starting to have a presence in insurance. An article by software development company Jasoren identifies several AR use cases, such as warning of risks, explaining insurance plans, estimating damages and increasing brand awareness. Alternate forms of AR such as virtual reality, mixed reality and extended reality are shaping how AR is being used.

8. Blockchain

The technology behind cryptocurrencies will be adopted for more promising applications. They include “smart” contracts and secure, decentralized data collection, processing and dissemination. While I do not expect to see a full-scale implementation of blockchain technology any time soon, many insurers and insurtech companies are launching projects and initiatives to test its applicability and effectiveness for insurance.

Whole New World for Customer Contact

Common things we hear these days: “If you really want to reach me, text me.” “Send that file to me via Slack.” “I live on Facebook, so send me a message on Facebook Messenger.”

We also observe that many people never answer voicemail, virtually ignore emails and throw away mail without even looking at it.

These are samplings of the communication patterns that are evolving in our society today. Meanwhile, how do we in the insurance industry communicate with our policyholders, agents, claimants and others? Email, phone calls and documents in the mail predominate. Web portals are also common. Some of the newer options for interaction are not on the radar of most insurers. Now, there are certainly individuals who still want to receive information in the traditional ways, and there will continue to be a need for these options, but the tide is turning.

See also: The Missing Piece for Customer Experience  

SMA has been investigating some new communication options and their implications for insurers. Our new research report, Advanced Customer Communications in the Digital Age: New Options for Insurers, explores how communications have evolved, how the insurance industry is using these options (or not), example use cases and what it all means in the context of an omni-channel environment.

Some of the new(er) forms of communication that have been gaining adoption and setting new expectations for customers include:

  • SMS texting and online chat: Although it is difficult to classify these as “new,” the insurance industry still has very little use of the technologies outside of the enterprise.
  • Messaging and collaboration platforms: These have been proliferating over the past decade or so, with tools like Skype, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Zoom and many others gaining large followings.
  • Voice assistants and chatbots: As voice and AI technologies have leapt forward, the opportunities to leverage AI-driven chatbots and voice assistants has increased dramatically. Much experimentation is underway in insurance.
  • Smart documents: Documents in many forms will continue to play a major role in communicating information to prospects, producers and policyholders. Rethinking those documents from a customer perspective and making them interactive and parametric provide great opportunities for the industry.
  • Augmented/virtual reality: Although a bit further out in terms of adoption and implications for insurance, there are already pilots and projects underway in the industry.

See also: How Customers Buy… and Why They Don’t  

The way the world communicates is rapidly changing, and everyone has their favorite options. Insurers would be wise to consider these in their customer journey and omni-channel strategies and plans.

4 Ways Connectivity Is Revolutionary

The Internet of Things (IoT) is predicted to support more than 20 billion devices by 2020, according to Gartner. This is a market that covers 60% of consumers worldwide, creating huge opportunities for industries to connect and engage with their customers.

Connecting with consumers hasn’t always been easy. Contact typically took place at points of sale, during claims and during renewal periods. Now, with the use of wearables, smart homes and telematics, insurers are connecting with customers on a continual basis and providing valuable feedback – and prices – based on activity levels. The business of insurance is complex, with core factors such as risk evaluation, long-term contracts and unpredictable settlements. However, the benefits of insurtech and the unlimited availability of new sources of data that can be exploited in real time have fundamentally altered how consumers interact with their insurance providers.

IoT devices are helping consumers and insurers get smarter with each passing day as these technologies bring promising results in helping insurers reshape how they assess, price and limit risks and enhance customer experience.

See also: Industry 4.0: What It Means for Insurance  

Connectivity and Opportunities

Numerous technologies have shown how improved connectivity can generate opportunities in the insurance industry beyond personalized premium rates. If implemented properly, IoT applications could possibly boost the industry’s customarily low growth rates. It may help insurers break free from traditional product marketing and competition primarily based on price to shift toward customer service and differentiation in coverage.

Several technology trends that are increasing connectivity in insurance include:

Extended Reality (XR) — XR technologies are altering the way consumers connect with society, information and each other. Extended reality is achieved through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), which aim to “relocate” people in time and space. Eighty-five percent of insurance executives in Accenture’s Technology Vision 2018 survey believe it is important to leverage XR solutions to close the gap of physical distance when engaging with employees and customers.

Wearable Sensors — Reports indicate that the average consumer now owns 3.6 wearable devices. These technologies can mitigate claims fraud and also transmit real-time data to warn the insured of possible dangers. For example, socks and shoes with IoT apps can alert diabetics on possible odd joint angles, foot ulcers and excessive pressure, thus helping in avoiding costly disability and medical claims and even worst-case scenarios such as life-changing amputations.

Commercial Infrastructure and Smart Home Sensors — These sensors can be embedded in commercial and private buildings to help in monitoring, detecting and preventing or mitigating safety breaches such as toxic fumes, pipe leakage, fire, smoke and mold. This increases the possibility of saving insurers from large claims and homeowners from substantial inconveniences such as lost property or valuables. Savings can be passed to insureds who use these sensors.

Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) Model — Cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity and telematics link drivers and automobiles in entirely new ways. Traditionally, auto insurance has relied on broad demographic features such as gender and the driver’s age, plus a credit score, to set premiums. Now, through IoT devices, insurers can not only offer reward-based premiums but can provide a connected car experience to customers with feedback on weather, traffic conditions or driving habits.

See also: 3 Ways to an Easier Digital Transformation  

Strategy will play an important role in connectivity as insurance carriers transform legacy core systems into digital platforms that support deeper connectivity with their customers. This strategy must address a carrier’s ability to handle, process and analyze the new types of data that will emerge from the use of these technologies. Artificial intelligence will also have a big impact.

According to a recent study, 80% of insurance customers are happier and more content when they can connect with their insurance providers through various channels such as phone, emails, smartphone apps and online. Through the use of the IoT and connected devices, insurers will improve customer experience by shifting from reaction after an event has occurred to preventing losses digitally.

Why Workplace Safety Auditors Don’t Work

For decades, workplace safety has been about reactively auditing the work environment to pass a “tick box” exercise. This has not only led to high and sometimes fatal costs to businesses, but also higher expenses, more losses and a general inability to improve safety. But we are seeing changes – workplace safety puts loss prevention up front as a target, leading to lower loss ratios not just in regard to profits but more importantly for human life.

First things first: Let’s acknowledge that the auditor model does not work

Time and time again, studies have shown that workplace safety improves when you let business owners manage their own safety. The more involved owners, managers and the workers themselves are in monitoring safety measures, the higher the chances of success. In fact, empirical evidence shows that safety incidents are one-seventh as likely to happen with engaged worker-centric approaches. Conversely when third party auditors are involved, more often than not companies just put up an appearance of compliance to get through the audit. The results are lose-lose, disengaged workers, expensive auditors and no inherent increase in safety.

See also: Seriously? Artificial Intelligence?  

The smarter the device or building, the safer the worker

Today we have the tools to genuinely anticipate and prevent accidents, and one of the best tools is that thing everyone carries around these days, a mobile phone. The list of wearables that can bolster workplace safety is also growing longer every day as we progress toward an Internet of Things.

With a smartphone, workers can take a picture of any hazard (for example, an electrical fault) with augmented reality, and the GPS on the phone turns the hazard into a dynamic alert as opposed to being some static and often hidden document. So, even if it is not removed immediately, as it is unlikely to be in most cases, workers can be alerted as they approach it. (Note: The experts seem to call this contextual awareness.)

The smartphone is just the start; the building itself is now smarter, with sensors for temperature, smoke, moisture, electric current, humidity, noise, light measurements, etc. In the more industrial workplaces, helmets, wristbands and even gloves are being embedded with sensors, so they can send alerts to employees and their managers in real time, allowing them to take preventive measures if workers’ well-being is compromised or safety procedures are not being followed.

As safety data pours in, machine learning steps in to make the most of it

While augmented reality is great for short-term risk management, machine learning makes sense of all the safety data collected and helps in long-term risk management. Placing this data among financial, environmental, occupational and social data can result in a system that updates in real time and any time (and not just via third party audits) and gives users GPS coordinates, pictures and notes. For insurance companies, this combination of IoT data feeding into machine learning capability will help deliver more sophisticated risk prediction models and underwriting risk assessment tools than the industry has ever seen before.

See also: Digital Playbooks for Insurers (Part 4)  

There is no need to hide things from this auditor

Because it is self-audit!! But what does this mean to an insurance company? First, it means the focus now moves to loss prevention and subsequently, and carriers will have to lower premiums for worker-centric safety management. The lowering in top line premium is offset by lower expenses in using safety auditors and lower claims, leading to a better underwriting profit. This is not far-fetched; we have already seen this on the personal side and on the auto side with telematics. The trick this time around is combining with other data sources and machine learning for insights, which most humans could not comprehend in a traditional underwriting scenario.

I’ll leave you with a sobering fact – 4,836 fatal work injuries were recorded in the U.S. in 2015 itself. That’s 4,836 too many. It is time for insurers to lead the charge on eliminating (the right kind of eliminating) with worker-centric processes powered by augmented reality and machine learning.

Top 10 Lists From CES2018

CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show), has become the biggest tech event in the world. CES2018 was so massive that there could probably be 50 different Top 10 lists. Here are just a few of mine that I hope you will find interesting and useful.

  1. 5G and AI are the top enabling technologies for the connected world of the next decade.
  2. Voice assistants are everywhere – incorporated into every smart device possible.
  3. Everyone is talking about mobility (driverless vehicles, the sharing economy, smart cities reshaping transport).
  4. The next big user interface (UI) trend will be Augmented Reality for All (AR for All).
  5. Cutting the cord is a big trend (wireless power, untethered virtual reality (VR), wireless audio, etc.).
  6. Biometrics gain steam for security (facial recognition, fingerprint, voiceprint, iris scan, etc.).
  7. Smart Cities are gaining more visibility (they even had a special agenda and exhibit focus this year).
  8. AI is not only an enabler for the next decade, it is becoming dominant today.
  9. Specialized chips and sensors abound – for LiDAR, AI, visioning, and many other applications.
  10. Smart-home tech continues to proliferate, and winning platforms and companies are starting to emerge.

  1. BYTON vehicle: New car company with an awesome vision for a “smartphone on wheels.”
  2. Flexound: Sensation of touch added through sound waves.
  3. Bellus3D: 3D modeling of human face/head to create avatars, etc. (To see mine, click here).
  4. Aflac robotic duck: Cuddly animatronic, AI-based duck given to kids with cancer.
  5. IV-Walk: Vest to administer IV fluids and enable patients by providing more mobility.
  6. Foldimate: Automatic clothes-folding machine.
  7. LG Display’s roll-up TV: Ultra-thin 65” OLED TV display that can be rolled up.
  8. SapientX: Movie quality avatars for conversational AI.
  9. Monuma: Blockchain-based app to record and estimate the value of costly objects.
  10. Guardian by Elexa: Water monitoring system with leak detection and automatic shut-off capability.

  1. Tennibot: Autonomous tennis ball collector.
  2. Robomart: World’s first self-driving store.
  3. Phrame: Smart license plate frame.
  4. 90Fun Puppy 1: Self-driving luggage (yes, it follows you around).
  5. B-Hyve: Smart yard (monitors watering systems).
  6. Milliboo: Smart couch.
  7. Kohler: Connected, talking toilet, enabled by Alexa.
  8. Somnox: Small robot that you can cuddle and sleep with.
  9. Velco: Connected handlebars.
  10. Kuri: Robot that acts like a digital pet.

See also: Collaborating for a Better Blockchain  

What, you may ask, does this have to do with insurance? It turns out that many of these are relevant for insurance in one way or another (okay, maybe not the talking toilet). But overall, these lists give a small glimpse of the era of unprecedented innovation that is sweeping the world. The things that the insurance industry insures, the way insurers communicate with prospects and policyholders, the nature of risk and how insurers improve operations all are being affected by the trends in emerging technologies, and we are only at the beginning of the digital, connected world.