Tag Archives: connected home

Telematics: No Longer Just For Cars

The use of telematics in car insurance isn’t new. For the past few years, more and more drivers have been signing up to have little black boxes installed in their cars that monitor their driving behavior, as insurance companies offer incentives such as lower premiums and discounted rates for safe drivers.

By allowing insurers to track their driving behaviors – including average speed, braking force and distance driven – drivers are able to negotiate lower premiums and other benefits, which many view as a fairer and less discriminatory way of assessing risk.

From a commercial point of view, if we can promote and encourage safer driving on the road then the number of crashes will come down, and the cost to the insurance industry will reduce accordingly – and those savings will be passed on to the public.

Premiums for 17-year-olds with telematics boxes are half what they were four years ago overall, and statistics suggest accident rates within this age bracket are also coming down. Technology, and technology-enabled propositions, have really reduced claims costs, especially for young drivers.

“Black box insurance” has other benefits, too. Many insurers also offer free anti-theft tracking and roadside assistance through the device, and so far RSA has a 100% return rate on stolen vehicles that have a telematics device fitted.

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Enter the era of the smart home

With the benefits of telematics so clearly proven within the automotive industry, insurers are now turning their focus to the residential realm – in a bid to create “smart homes” that are intuitive and responsive to internal and external risks.

For many homeowners, the ability to control their climate, lighting and entertainment devices is one of the main attractions when it comes to home telematics, whereas insurers are drawn to the security benefits offered.

Luckily, telematics-based home insurance offers both parties the best of both worlds – convenience and risk mitigation, all in one handy tech-savvy package.

Smart home = smarter home insurance?

Just as black boxes in cars reward safe driving behaviors with lower premiums and discounts, smart home owners could reap the benefits of a connected abode. From discounts for locking the door and setting the alarm, to a fairer, up-to-date assessment based on moisture, flooding or carbon monoxide monitoring, home telematics can give consumers more control over their insurance rates and premiums, as well as a more in-depth understanding of their utilities usage, environmental risks and overall home security.

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In fact, smart home technology-based insurance has the potential to improve on existing discounts or lower premiums for features like security systems – simply by ensuring that these features are regularly used.

With people buying smart switches and systems, insurers are looking initially for propositions that help reduce the impact, even eliminate, some claims around water, theft and fire.

What’s next, connected pets?

It may seem like a sci-fi fantasy, but telematics for pets is set to be the next game-changer in the insurance industry, which is no surprise given that around 2.6 million people in the U.K. have pet insurance.

Pets are seen as part of the family, and owners spend a considerable amount on maintaining their furry best friends’ health, well-being and fitness. But how do we keep an extra close eye on our four-legged friends when we don’t speak their language?

Pet telematics: Going beyond the microchipping process

It’s not as disturbing or invasive as it sounds. All it takes for pets to join the telematics generation is a small GPS device – which is clipped to a collar or inserted under the dog’s skin to record its movements and activities throughout the day.

When paired with a smartphone app, this safe, easy technique allows owners and insurers to monitor pets’ body temperatures, hormones and heart rates, with some even going as far as tracking bowel movements – and this data is collated to form a comprehensive picture of a pet’s health and lifestyle.

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Pet insurance is really a well-being product – private medical insurance for cats and dogs, effectively. Pet obesity results in a lot of claims, so if pet telematics can encourage owners to have healthier, more active pets, he’s for it.

What’s in it for consumers? 

The use of telematics in everyday life and activities puts consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to their insurance policies and premiums. By having access to detailed data on their driving, home security and pet care, ordinary consumers can become more aware of the risks around them, which could spur them to change or improve their behavior.

People want to be healthy and happy, and not have to deal with the aftermath of an insurance event. The common thread across telematics is that technology creates proposition that either prevent or minimize the impact of claim events.

What about privacy concerns?

While many customers may balk at the thought of having their lives monitored, a recent Deloitte survey has shown that more than half of respondents were willing to share private information for a premium discount. This shows that, although privacy concerns remain top of mind for most, a sizable incentive can override that resistance to transform consumers into adopters. See the Deloitte report here.

What’s in it for insurers?

Telematics enables insurers to create products and services that accurately reflect customers’ risk.

Perhaps that explains why telematics has become increasingly popular among consumers and insurers over the past few years. A study by ABI research estimates that global insurance telematics subscriptions could exceed 107 million in 2018, up from 5.5 million at the end of 2013. It also predicts that usage-based insurance will represent more than 100 million telematics policies and generate in excess of €50 billion in premiums globally by 2020.

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Telematics can move insurers from dealing with incidents, to stopping those incidents from being as bad as they could otherwise be. Using technology lets insurers move into that prevention mitigation space.

This article originally appeared on www.rsagroup.com/the-thread.

Smart Homes Are Still Way Too Stupid

It’s nice to know sharp people — in this case, Rich Jaroslovsky, a former colleague at the Wall Street Journal who is now a vice president at SmartNews. He just wrote a takedown of the smart home that saved me the trouble.

I had visited the topic in a general way a year ago in an article taking issue  with something Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, had said about how the Internet will disappear. My basic complaint about how even really smart people think about automation is that automation is often more trouble than it’s worth and that people blithely assume I’d like to automate decisions that, in fact, I don’t want automated — no, I don’t want my refrigerator ordering milk for me, my lights to always flip on a certain way when I walk through the door or my TV to always turn to ESPN when I wake up.

Recent stories about the glories of the smart home made me think I needed to return to the subject, more specifically this time — I’m cranky on the subject of the smart home because I’ve been hearing variations on this theme for 25 years without seeing a result; no, Nest doesn’t count. I was prompted into action when I received the following in an email this morning:

“Many large U.S. insurers are bracing for the impact of autonomous driving on their business, but they have yet to grasp that the same trend is at play in the homeowners and renters insurance markets. Insurers that don’t develop a value proposition around the connected home will be forced to give steeper discounts to reflect the lower risks without generating any strategic benefits. Savvy insurers that adapt to the new dynamic have a historic opportunity to become far more relevant than they are today.

“Based on over 100… discussions conducted between November 2015 and February 2016 with smart-home technology vendors; P&C, health, and life insurers; venture capital firms; and technology vendors, this report examines the connected-home use case for the insurance industry, profiles two turnkey smart-home… and mentions 147 other firms.” [I deleted three corporate names in there, including the author of the report, because I don’t see any need to make this personal, even though you’re expected to pay real money for that report.]

Just when I was gearing up to write something on the smart home, though, I saw that Rich had posted his column, which begins:

“With every new smart device I add to my home, it gets a little dumber.

“The thermostats don’t talk to the lights. The security cameras don’t talk to the alarm system, which doesn’t talk to the garage door. The networked speakers talk to each other—but not to the TV sitting a few feet away. Just about every device has its own app for my smartphone, but since none of them work with each other, I’ve got 15 apps controlling 15 functions.”

I encourage you to read the whole piece, especially if you harbor hopes that the smart home is a looming opportunity. As Rich notes, you can’t have a connected home if the devices don’t talk to each other. And while I may have a “standard” for communication, if Rich has a separate standard and so do 87 others of you, then we don’t, in fact, have a standard way of communicating.

We’ll get to the smart home.

But not soon.

6 Technologies That Will Define 2016

Please join me for “Path to Transformation,” an event I am putting on May 10 and 11 at the Plug and Play accelerator in Silicon Valley in conjunction with Insurance Thought Leadership. The event will not only explore the sorts of technological breakthroughs I describe in this article but will explain how companies can test and absorb the technologies, in ways that then lead to startling (and highly profitable) innovation. My son and I have been teaching these events around the world, and I hope to see you in May. You can sign up here.

Over the past century, the price and performance of computing has been on an exponential curve. And, as futurist Ray Kurzweil observed, once any technology becomes an information technology, its development follows the same curve. So, we are seeing exponential advances in technologies such as sensors, networks, artificial intelligence and robotics. The convergence of these technologies is making amazing things possible.

Last year was the tipping point in the global adoption of the Internet, digital medical devices, blockchain, gene editing, drones and solar energy. This year will be the beginning of an even bigger revolution, one that will change the way we live, let us visit new worlds and lead us into a jobless future. However, with every good thing, there comes a bad; wonderful things will become possible, but with them we will create new problems for mankind.

Here are six of the technologies that will make the change happen.

1. Artificial intelligence

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There is merit to the criticism of AI—even though computers have beaten chess masters and Jeopardy players and have learned to talk to us and drive cars. AI such as Siri and Cortana is still imperfect and infuriating. Yes, those two systems crack jokes and tell us the weather, but they are nothing like the seductive digital assistant we saw in the movie “Her.” In the artificial-intelligence community, there is a common saying: “AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.” People call this the “AI effect.” Skeptics discount the behavior of an artificial intelligence program by arguing that, rather than being real intelligence, it is just brute force computing and algorithms.

But this is about to change, to the point even the skeptics will say that AI has arrived. There have been major advances in “deep learning” neural networks, which learn by ingesting large amounts of data. IBM has taught its AI system, Watson, everything from cooking, to finance, to medicine and to Facebook. Google and Microsoft have made great strides in face recognition and human-like speech systems. AI-based face recognition, for example, has almost reached human capability. And IBM Watson can diagnose certain cancers better than any human doctor can.

With IBM Watson being made available to developers, Google open-sourcing its deep-learning AI software and Facebook releasing the designs of its specialized AI hardware, we can expect to see a broad variety of AI applications emerging because entrepreneurs all over the world are taking up the baton. AI will be wherever computers are, and it will seem human-like.

Fortunately, we don’t need to worry about superhuman AI yet; that is still a decade or two away.

2. Robots

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The 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge required robots to navigate over an eight-task course that simulated a disaster zone. It was almost comical to see them moving at the speed of molasses, freezing up and falling over. Forget folding laundry and serving humans; these robots could hardly walk. While we heard some three years ago that Foxconn would replace a million workers with robots in its Chinese factories, it never did so.

Breakthroughs may, however, be at hand. To begin with, a new generation of robots is being introduced by companies—such as Switzerland’s ABB, Denmark’s Universal Robots, and Boston’s Rethink Robotics—robots dextrous enough to thread a needle and sensitive enough to work alongside humans. They can assemble circuits and pack boxes. We are at the cusp of the industrial-robot revolution.

Household robots are another matter. Household tasks may seem mundane, but they are incredibly difficult for machines to perform. Cleaning a room and folding laundry necessitate software algorithms that are more complex than those required to land a man on the moon. But there have been many breakthroughs of late, largely driven by AI, enabling robots to learn certain tasks by themselves and by teaching each other what they have learned. And with the open source robotic operating system (ROS), thousands of developers worldwide are getting close to perfecting the algorithms.

Don’t be surprised when robots start showing up in supermarkets and malls—and in our homes. Remember Rosie, the robotic housekeeper from the TV series “The Jetsons”?  I am expecting version No. 1 to begin shipping in the early 2020s.

3. Self-driving cars

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Once considered to be in the realm of science fiction, autonomous cars made big news in 2015. Google crossed the million-mile mark with its prototypes; Tesla began releasing functionality in its cars; and major car manufacturers announced their plans for robocars. These cars are coming, whether or not we are ready. And, just as the robots will, they will learn from each other—about the landscape of our roads and the bad habits of humans.

In the next year or two, we will see fully functional robocars being tested on our highways, and then they will take over our roads. Just as the horseless carriage threw horses off the roads, these cars will displace us humans. Because they won’t crash into each other as we humans do, the robocars won’t need the bumper bars or steel cages, so they will be more comfortable and lighter. Most will be electric. We also won’t have to worry about parking spots, because they will be able to drop us where we want to go to and pick us up when we are ready. We won’t even need to own our own cars, because transportation will be available on demand through our smartphones. Best of all, we won’t need speed limits, so distance will be less of a barrier—enabling us to leave the cities and suburbs.

4. Virtual reality and holodecks

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In March, Facebook announced the availability of its much-anticipated virtual reality headset, Oculus Rift. And Microsoft, Magic Leap and dozens of startups aren’t far behind with their new technologies. The early versions of these products will surely be expensive and clumsy and cause dizziness and other adverse reactions, but prices will fall, capabilities will increase and footprints will shrink as is the case with all exponential technologies. 2016 will mark the beginning of the virtual reality revolution.

Virtual reality will change how we learn and how we entertain ourselves. Our children’s education will become experiential, because they will be able to visit ancient Greece and journey within the human body. We will spend our lunchtimes touring far-off destinations and our evenings playing laser tag with friends who are thousands of miles away. And, rather than watching movies at IMAX theaters, we will be able to be part of the action, virtually in the back seat of every big-screen car chase.

5. Internet of Things

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Mark Zuckerberg recently announced plans to create his own artificially intelligent, voice-controlled butler to help run his life at home and at work. For this, he will need appliances that can talk to his digital butler: a connected home, office and car. These are all coming, as CES, the big consumer electronics tradeshow in Las Vegas, demonstrated. From showerheads that track how much water we’ve used, to toothbrushes that watch out for cavities, to refrigerators that order food that is running out, all these items are on their way.

Starting in 2016, everything will be be connected, including our homes and appliances, our cars, street lights and medical instruments. These will be sharing information with each other (perhaps even gossiping about us) and will introduce massive security risks as well as many efficiencies. We won’t have much choice because they will be standard features—just as are the cameras on our smart TVs that stare at us and the smartphones that listen to everything we say.

6. Space

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Rockets, satellites and spaceships were things that governments built. That is, until Elon Musk stepped into the ring in 2002 with his startup SpaceX. A decade later, he demonstrated the ability to dock a spacecraft with the International Space Station and return with cargo. A year later, he launched a commercial geostationary satellite. And then, in 2015, out of the blue, came another billionaire, Jeff Bezos, whose space company Blue Origin launched a rocket 100 kilometers into space and landed its booster within five feet of its launch pad. SpaceX achieved the feat a month later.

It took a space race in the 1960s between the U.S. and the USSR to even get man to the moon. For decades after this, little more happened, because there was no one for the U.S. to compete with. Now, thanks to technology costs falling so far that space exploration can be done for millions—rather than billions—of dollars and the raging egos of two billionaires, we will see the breakthroughs in space travel that we have been waiting for. Maybe there’ll be nothing beyond some rocket launches and a few competitive tweets between Musk and Bezos in 2016, but we will be closer to having colonies on Mars.

This surely is the most innovative period in human history, an era that will be remembered as the inflection point in exponential technologies that made the impossible possible.

The Hype Cycle of Insurance Disruption

The research firm Gartner has a great model for showing the relative maturity of different technologies. It’s called the Hype Cycle, and it looks like this:

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Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hype_cycle

There are five phases. First, a technology emerges, triggering a myriad of ideas for potential applications. Startups are founded, commentators predict it will change everything, incumbents include it in the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis section of their annual strategic plan. These expectations reach a peak and then start to decline as technical limitations, barriers to consumer adoption and regulatory concerns emerge. Chastened, new technologies then slowly regain credibility as people focus on how they can be applied to create real value in the here and now. Finally, they achieve mainstream adoption and acceptance.

So what would the hype cycle of insurance disruption look like, in 2016? I think something like this:

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The hottest topics of discussion in insurance right now are those left-most on the chart. We can expect the next 12 months to see seed-stage angel and VC investments in start-ups addressing the insurance implications of IoT/connected home (Domotz), blockchain (Everledger), drones (Drox) and maybe even artificial intelligence (Brolly).

Meanwhile, insurance industry incumbents will continue appointing chief digital officers, opening digital garages and launching venture funds and start-up incubators with the aim of getting a stake in the next generation of InsurTech companies. It will be a few years before we see whether these investments are creating value.

On the other side of the peak of inflated expectations, there is a deepening malaise around peer-to-peer (P2P) insurance. New York’s Lemonade may have just raised a $13 million seed round, but it has a long hard road ahead. The company’s somewhat hubristic claim to be the world’s first P2P insurer suggests executives aren’t aware of Friendsurance or Guevara and the challenges these admirable businesses have faced in creating a value proposition that consumers can understand and buy into.

P2P insurance remains intellectually exciting to insurance industry insiders but deeply unappealing to ordinary people. Do you want to feel social pressure from your friends not to make a home insurance claim if you spill paint on the carpet? No, neither do I. It will take a radically different articulation of the P2P consumer proposition for it to gain more traction — probably one that doesn’t focus at all on the product mechanics.

If the appeal of P2P insurance is in decline, big data is in the trough. There is even a bot that substitutes the phrase “chronic farting” in any tweet that mentions it. Consolidating a global insurer’s data assets on a single platform and then powering the whole organization with advanced analytics seems about as realistic as boiling the ocean.

But away from these grandiose projects, there are specific insurance use cases where big data has tangible value today. Underwriting using Twitter data is already as powerful as traditional question sets. At Bought by Many, we’ve analyzed the anonymized search data of 3 million U.K. Internet users to identify where the biggest gaps are between consumer demand for insurance and the products being supplied by the industry. Meanwhile, social media data, particularly from Facebook, is hugely powerful for insurance distribution – not just for targeted advertising but for understanding and serving people’s unique insurance needs.

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There is also a number of technologies that are mainstream in other sectors but still haven’t been fully adopted in insurance – programmatic advertising, even web analytics. The most egregious example is mobile. 75% of U.K. adults now use mobile Internet, and yet encountering a mobile-optimized or responsively designed insurance quote and buy process is still a pleasant surprise. Perhaps this reflects insurance companies’ bad experiences of developing apps that no one downloaded during the earlier phases of smartphone adoption; but surely getting mobile sorted should be a higher priority for insurers than launching an incubator. Mobile-first insurance startups like Worry + Peace and Cuvva can provide inspiration.

When it comes to technology, insurance isn’t a leader, it’s a follower. So it’s in the smart application of maturing technologies that the biggest opportunity for insurance disruption lies.

What Does 2016 Have in Store for Us?

It’s the time of the year when we look back fondly at the year just gone and look forward with trepidation and excitement at the year ahead. 2015 was, all in all, a good year for most, with a number of significant events that saw a good end to the year. Weather, on the whole, was mild, with the UK floods over Christmas being responded to well by all. Regardless of the news/political agendas, we are still investing £2.3 billion into flood defenses over the coming years.

As we look forward, here are my thoughts on how we start 2016. What do you think? As always, I look forward to your feedback!

1. FinTech and InsurTech. 2015 will be remembered as the year of the zone, loft, garage and accelerator. This trend will continue with a new level of maturity and focus. We will see the emergence of the first three to four successful candidates from accelerators, as well as more failures (we need more to help hone the focus). Either way, this trend will continue upward as we look for the next unicorn and existing carriers worry about FOMO (fear of missing out).

We will see more acquisition in this space, too, where existing carriers acquire to improve or extend their value chain and reach — for example, as we did last year with Generali and MyDrive.

2. Evolution of IoT. The Internet of Things buzz has reached a fever pitch. (I’ve even written about it myself.) 2016 will be the year we all realize it’s just another data/automated question set, from connected homes, cars and fridges to the connected self. Focus will move to strong use cases and business cases, but anything here on its own will not survive. It needs a partner – or three.

3. Digital and data. 2016 will continue to be a big area of growth for both, and I’ve bundled them as I believe they are intrinsically linked. That said, if you haven’t done anything here yet, you are very late to an already crowded party. Both will continue with huge levels of interest and hype, but both need to move into genuine execution of the plans made last year. Ultimately, the only thing that matters here is the customer. Don’t just have a plan because others are doing it. It needs to be right for you and your particular customer segment.

4. M&A will continue but will slow. 2015 saw a record-breaking year for M&A in the insurance world. As the economic climate changes and we see interest rates rise in 2016, I see this slowing down, while the current set of newly combined companies focuses on bringing together the multiple new units into a cohesive, efficient, fighting machine.

5. Will the CDO survive? (By CDO, I mean either the chief digital officer or the chief data officer.) As with my first point, the focus and drive in these areas has been great; there has been the right effect and a wake-up call. However, for organizations that implemented these “change agents” and “purposeful” disruptive roles, I suspect we will see a move back to a focus on the chief customer officer.

6. New business models. To take advantage of all this data, technology, customer intent and more, we need to find and be clear on what the new business model will– and needs to– be.

7. What we buy and sell. We need to move away from a product mindset and become more relevant and more convenient – my two favorite terms when it comes to insurance. Rick Huckstep did a good piece on engagement insurance, which, to me, sums up how we better embed ourselves into daily life, rather than once a year or in the current cycle. This is where organizations such as Trov will come into play. Trov and others will be more integrated into our everyday lives, becoming more convenient, seamless and relevant to us, driving more engagement. From a convenience perspective, companies such as Cuvva made the news last year. This is just the start of things to come. The key questions are whether they can scale and whether they will make money. Peer-to-peer also made lots of noise; however, I think the same questions here apply.

I still feel we will move away from the current product mindset we have today to just buying complete cover for the individual and anything she does, regardless of where she is. I previously called this the “rise of the personal SME.” I expect to have insurance rather than five to 10 products.

8. Cyber is the new digital. While the last few years have focused heavily on digital transformation and data, this year will see a big shift in focus to cyber, both on the buy and sell side, with organizations moving quickly to not be the next headline for the wrong reasons. So, each organization needs to have the right measures in place, followed by the right cover. For carriers, this means new products and opportuniti,es with specialists including ACE, XL Catlin and Beazley already making strong moves.

We started 2015 by saying that the risk was simply too big to cover and finished it with calls for a government-backed reinsurance scheme for cyber, as we have already created for floods. Is it a real need or a political agenda? My view is that it’s a real need, regardless of the politics.

9. Partnerships and bundling. Like many of the points above, on their own, partnerships and bundling are significant issues and opportunities but perhaps don’t answer the key questions around relevance, engagement, etc. For this, I see a big rise in the partnerships between insurers and third parties or the orchestration/bundling of services that just happens to include insurance. Insurers could become the systems integrator for lifestyle services, by default increasing relevance and engagement.

Finally, let’s not take our eye off the here-and-now. Organizations will continue to need to run the ship, BAU is still BAU (business as usual). We must aim to reduce internal costs and inefficiency. Not one organization I have spoken to over the last year is not riddled with legacy and has clear ambitions to reduce costs and improve efficiency – all to further drive support for the year of the customer.

However we look at things, 2016 is looking like it will be an exciting year. I look forward to sharing it with you!