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Winning With Smart IoT in P&C

Insurance companies long for a way to attract and interact with customers, rather than just hitting customers’ bank accounts every quarter for a premium payment or re-upping a contract at the end of the year. What if I told you that insurers could attract customers with smart home devices that generate interaction seven to 10 times A DAY — and that customers would initiate those interactions? What if that level of involvement in customers’ lives led to a Net Promoter Score (NPS) above 50 for the insurers? 

Those numbers are in fact possible, both with homeowners and with small businesses, through an approach that incorporates IoT to help people avoid P&C risks while fitting easily into their home and work lives.

We know because we’ve seen these sorts of numbers at Notion, which we began with a Kickstarter campaign and grew through insurance partnerships with Hippo, Nationwide and others before being acquired by Comcast this year. 

While Notion partners with insurers to provide homeowners and owners of small businesses technology to monitor for water leaks, fire, theft and more, there are a variety of ways to win with smart IoT in the property/casualty world. 

In our experience, there are two keys to winning strategies: customer-centric technology and a comprehensive economic case for investment.

First, the technology should deliver benefits, such as “peace of mind,” that customers value highly even though the benefits would be hard to quantify. In our case, customers interact so frequently with the Notion app because they’re checking their system to see if the front door opened around the time their child was supposed to be getting back from school, that it is a comfortable temperature across their home, etc. Those benefits don’t show up in losses averted or claims reduced but can do an awful lot to increase installation rates, to bolster loyalty toward an insurer, to boost NPS and to create opportunities for cross-selling other services.

Every company that has led with a “prevent water damage” message has seen very little interest among consumers. Even if insurers provide water sensors for free, the installation rate can be low if that is the only use case. But technology and messages related to broader home coverage and security resonate with consumers.

Let’s walk through Notion as an example of the trajectory that the “smart home” (and “smart” small business) can take. Auto telematics long required a device to be professionally installed and focused just on discounted premiums for good drivers, and had a slow uptake, so we took a different approach: We’ve focused on a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach and on making that more-than-economic argument for insurers.

We built an affordable system where consumers can monitor their home or small business from anywhere and easily grow to fit their needs. The Notion sensors monitor for water leaks, temperature changes, opening doors and windows, and sounding smoke and carbon monoxide monitors. All the information is collected wirelessly and is made available to the user through an app on their smartphone.

Most homes and small businesses can have key areas covered with just five sensors — total price for a five-sensor Notion Starter Kit is $199. 

Which leads us to the second key to winning strategies: a reasonable economic case for the IoT investment. Many technologies and programs aren’t there yet. For instance, a water shutoff valve that requires a professional installation may not pay for itself for 10 years — the initial cost is a high barrier. 

So, we started from scratch and came up with a program design that produces full ROI in just under two years — the kind of ROI that any business can appreciate. Just looking at water damage, there are about $10 million in claims each year per 50,000 homeowners policies. By investing in an $85 smart monitoring kit and program for customers, insurers can practically cut their water claims in half.

The ROI looks even better when you consider the other benefits to insurers outside water claim reduction: customer acquisition, customer loyalty, data insights and the potential for selling other services.

The large returns our insurer partners generate by preventing claims allows them to offer a kit at a discount plus offer discounts of roughly 3% to 15% on premiums to help drive adoption. Our partners say discounts could grow substantially as they gather data on losses prevented. (The high end of the discounts goes to those who fully outfit a house or small business, who have professional monitoring and whose setups can be verified by the insurer to make sure they’re actually being used.) 

While the discounts alone aren’t enough to generate full adoption even of free sensors, a curated flow of customer communication with a “what’s in it for me” message drives installation way up. (The same was true in telematics: Once messaging switched from discounts to security issues such as driving behavior, adoption finally picked up.)

While regulators were initially careful about what could be given away and what bundles should be allowed, they have become more comfortable with the IoT and understand that we’re all working together to benefit consumers. 

They have thus cleared a path for far greater adoption of the IoT, at a time when all trends were already pointing in that direction. According to Statista, the number of homes in the U.S. using smart security systems will nearly triple from 12.8 million in 2017 to 36.7 million by 2023 — meaning that more than a quarter of U.S. homes will have them. Revenue from smart home devices is expected to grow 17% annually for the foreseeable future. 

The trend is very much toward DIY: 47% of security system owners report self-installing their system in 2019, an increase from 27% in 2014, according to Park Associates.

The pandemic seems to even be accelerating the trends, both toward the use of IoT (because people are spending more time in their homes) and toward DIY (because people have more time, without their daily commutes, because people want to keep strangers’ potential infections out of their homes and because videos and chat capabilities on smartphones make “telemaintenance” easier). 

A platform like Notion can become the hub for all kinds of services that can be bundled with hardware or sold separately to make the lives of homeowners easier — for example, connecting a homeowner with a plumber when they have a water leak. With Notion, we have taken this one step further and created a direct integration in our app with HomeAdvisor. Once a leak has been detected, the homeowner can connect to HomeAdvisor’s network of certified professionals with one click. 

But that kind of service is just the beginning. In the same way that Tesla bundles insurance with its cars, I can imagine lots of maintenance-related services that could fit nicely into an IoT-based “protect my property” platform. When I say good night to my Google Home, it may remind me to do certain things around the house; why couldn’t insurers help inform homeowners and small business owners? 

Now there are winning structures for insurers to leverage IoT smart devices to connect and provide value to their customers — a win for customers and for P&C insurers.

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What Digital Can Do for Disability Claims

Healthcare is being transformed by advances in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, machine learning, sensors and other innovative technologies. Practically everybody has a smartphone, making it easier than ever to gather data and consent to third-party access. Unique data insights mean providers can offer people products and services tailored to them individually.

For insurers, digital technology offers new ways to manage risk that relies less on face-to-face and traditional clinical assessment; this is why there is so much interest in understanding how innovation might work. Selected comments from four key players in the digital health ecosystem make clear the appeal of putting two and two together.

Thomas Lethenborg at Monsenso, a mobile platform for mental health, said, “Digital technology helps an individual move from reactive behavior to being more proactive – and this changes the paradigm in particular with engagement.”

It’s a view shared by David Forster of Thrive, a digital interventions app for mental health: “Data drives our understanding of what works best for the individual.” According to Forster, the success of digital technology in clinical settings points to real opportunities in insurance: “It makes it possible to provide policyholders help with illness prevention, early detection and assistance on a personal level.”

Ian Prangley, of exercise rehabilitation service TrackActive, continued the theme when he said, “For insurers, digital solutions can drive connectedness, engagement and customer satisfaction while enabling people to self-manage their health. Harnessing data insights and implementing artificial intelligence (AI) is key to achieving this.”

See also: Why to Digitize Disability Claims  

A comment by Danny Dressler of AIMO, an ecosystem integrating intelligent motion analysis into musculoskeletal care, added further confirmation: “As more and better data is gathered and processed safely, AI offers the most promise to take care of people’s health, and fix issues in both healthcare and the life and health insurance sectors.”

By using digital means, insurers can create scalable, automated, speedy ways of supporting people when they need help the most. Proponents argue it offers better health outcomes for policyholders that will reduce the costs associated with long disability claims – a win-win for both insurers and consumers.

Dressler also said that “technology like ours lets insurers offer customers new solutions such as dynamic pricing and automated claims and even help to prevent claims from happening.” Lethenborg says it represents “an opportunity to ensure the data collected gives holistic insights and analytics that we can use to intervene more rapidly, when help is needed.”

But it’s crucial the highest levels of privacy and data protection are guaranteed and operators are in full compliance with regulations. An imperfect balance of privacy with innovation is a deal-breaker for consumers.

Forster is clear how delicate this balance is: “We recognize our responsibility to safeguard users’ data, but at the same time information technology empowers people to make choices and participate actively in managing their own health – it puts them in the driving seat for the first time.”

For digital solutions to be convincing, research and scientific evidence are needed, but with newly made services, long-term experience is scarce, and a leap of faith is required.

Dressler spoke for all in saying, “We maintain strong links to scientific institutions because the general technologies underpinning our solutions emerges from scientific thesis…[This means] we only implement new features or functions after a rigorous validation process, especially because we are asking people to trust us with their health and well-being.”

Dealing with high volumes of data is not without risk, particularly when it’s shared with third parties.

See also: Digital Innovation in Life Insurance  

Prangley has pointed to recent concerns over how sensitive data is being used to highlight the challenges faced, “The key is to anonymize and protect data, and have customers consent to sharing it on the understanding it will be used solely to improve their health.” This insight is driven home by Lethenborg, who said, “Transparency about how the data will be used is essential to building trust.”

Digitization has already brought new products and services that have had positive medical and scientific impact. As Prangley said, “Technology has connected people and changed how we relate to each other. There [are] arguments for and against this of course, but in the context of health and wellbeing we believe it’s a great thing.”

With mental health and musculoskeletal problems as the leading causes of disability claims in every market, these companies can bring digital solutions and opportunities – and health insurers can also feel great about them.

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.

3 Technology Trends Worth Watching

At a time when many insurers believe that 20% of their business could be soon lost to insurtech startups and when roughly one third of insurance industry CIOs said that, if given an extra $5 million to spend, they would spend it on big data or increased data collection, understanding technology trends is critical to gaining an edge.

So, let’s look at three of the emerging technologies affecting the insurance sector.

1. Sensors and other data-tracking technologies

In the past, insurance companies and actuaries based their pricing on aggregated data from large numbers of customers. Today, innovations in internet-connected devices such as wearables, auto devices and smart homes are giving insurance companies meaningful data that is specific to individual policyholders.

For example, Progressive Insurance created Snapshot, a device a policyholder can install in his or her car that allows Progressive to monitor certain data about the customer’s driving habits and to adjust pricing accordingly. Progressive claims to have distributed $600 million in discounts to its policyholders, largely because of data from Snapshot.

See also: 10 Trends at Heart of Insurtech Revolution  

Snapshot is just one example of how sensors and data-tracking technology can generate savings for policyholders while, at the same time, making insurers more efficient. As this technology continues to gain adoption, many more sensors will be available to monitor policyholder data on health, autos, homes and more.

2. Drones

Drone technology is a rapidly growing niche in the insurance industry, with some predicting it will reach a yearly value of $6.8 billion in the coming years. This growing interest in drone technology was a driving force behind a recent panel discussion on drones at the Contractor Connection conference in St. Louis. WeGoLook’s COO, Kenneth Knoll, participated in this panel, which was attended by more than 3,000 industry professionals.

Knoll noted that drone technology applies to a wide range of insurance services — roof inspections, underwriting, disaster relief, crop inspections, and much more. Consider an order recently received by WeGoLook requesting a scene inspection at a commercial location where an injury occurred. As compared with photos taken from the ground, aerial imagery captured by one of WeGoLook’s licensed drone operators offered the insurer client a much more effective representation of the scene in question.

3. Paperless solutions

Evolving technology also makes it possible for insurers to onboard new clients, handle claims and send notifications in a completely paperless manner. The increased digitization of insurance solutions has the potential to dramatically improve the speed and efficiency with which insurance companies operate. For example, Lemonade, an insurtech company, allows clients to sign up for policies and file claims in less than three minutes, using only a mobile device.

Mobile is the new paper as millennials have an extremely high percentage of smartphone use (97%). Carriers that can
best cater to paperless, mobile solutions will gain a strong competitive advantage.

See also: The Story Behind the Lemonade Hype  

Final Thoughts

Some have argued that we are currently experiencing a fourth industrial revolution powered, in part, by the developments noted above. Sensors, drones and paperless solutions are just a few of the technologies driving this revolution.

Carriers must make these types of innovations a priority because they are fundamentally changing the expectations of clients. It’s time for all insurance professionals to acknowledge and embrace this digital transformation.

IoT: Looking Beyond the Usual Suspects

Ever wondered what the Internet of Things (IoT) looks like? Well it’s not like the world of Pokemon Go – where virtual things push their way into the real world. The world of IoT is where real things are pushing into the virtual world, and the data these connected things provide is a heck of a lot more useful than any Pokemon you may catch.

For all you hackers out there, this is your dream come true. For all you CIOs, I can hear you groan about yet another “attack surface” you need to police and lock-down. For those of us in the insurance industry, the IoT presents a very big opportunity.

But what does it all mean?

In our little Insurance world, we have been pretty happy (smug) with our sensors plugged into cars and smart watches spewing driving and exercise data. But we have barely scratched the surface of the available IoT data sources. If you go to thingful.net, you can drill down and look at the vast array of sensors. You’ll find personal weather stations, shopping center beacons, air quality sensors, river water level meters, building power supplies, ships, aircraft, radiation detectors — a mind-blowing list of sensors that people have put into the wild and hooked up to the internet.

See also: Insurance and the Internet of Things  

So now I’ve got your attention. Let’s do a little survey of some of the more unusual suspects of devices being pressed into the service of underwriters and claim adjusters — helping to reduce risk and improve lives. Let’s have some fun and do this in a “day in the life” style.

A Day in the Life of IoT

It’s Sunday evening. You’ve gone to bed, and you’re settling in for a good sleep. Part of the reason you are so relaxed is you have your new security system in place. Rather than having to wire up every door and window, this sentinel uses sound waves to determine if anything untoward is going on. If your spouse nudges you in the middle of the night and says, “Did you hear that? It must be a burglar! You go and check it out,” you can groggily reply, “The alarm didn’t hear anything, so go back to sleep!” Definitely worth its weight in gold. And what’s even better, insurers are giving premium discounts and incentives for the installation of such devices. So you blissfully snooze on, dreaming of all those savings.

Rise and shine

So there you are, enjoying your fantastic dream when gradually the light intensity increases and you wake. Groan; it’s Monday! The lamp next to your bed has been triggered by the sleep sensor strip under your mattress. This great night’s sleep has been fully recorded and automatically logged for your later analysis. Some insurers are now incorporating sleep into their premium discount models. According to the NHS, lack of sleep can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes, plus a range of other quality of life issues. You are a little smug – being paid to sleep – cool.

See also: Coverage Risks From the ‘Internet of Things’

So the morning run is next. However, before you hit the track, you must “clean out the cocky’s cage” – brush your teeth. No problem, your connected toothbrush logs every swirl and stroke and the duration of your brushing. You hear your phone buzz with the alert on how you’ve missed the right molar at the back – oops! There is an insurer that offers discounts on dental insurance for sharing brushing data and following their dental health advice. Interesting to note that, beyond making you better social company, good dental hygiene reduces risk for heart disease, stroke, dementia, respiratory problems, diabetes, cancer plus a range of other issues.

Running can be bad for business

So now you slip on your running shoes. Inside, there are smart insoles that will log your run (just like all those boring wrist-bound trackers). They can also coach you to improve your running style by analyzing the data from pressure points on your feet and overall gait. Many insurers reward customers for being active, but not many are concerned that the chosen activity may cause other problems – it’s only a matter of time. What insurer would want to give discounts for running only to be hit with claims related to knee, hip and back problems due to poor running style? Fortunately, you’re a good runner and ready to hit the road.

So you are just about to go out the door, when you remember you’d like to eat some hot soup for breakfast once you get back from your run. You head to the kitchen and put the soup on a slow simmer on the stove. Finally, you’re outside with your hot breath fogging in the brisk morning air – glorious. Your phone buzzes – what now! Your stove is warning you that you have left it on. Okay, no problem; you knew that. You reset the app alarm for 30 minutes – how long you expect to be running, so off you go. According to industry sources, the number one cause of household fires in the U.S. is from the stove being left on unintentionally. Some IoT sensors can automatically shut off the stove where the owner fails to respond. The cold air is invigorating as you jog down the road, but the thought of that hot soup waiting for you at home puts that little extra spring into your stride.

Welcome home

On return, you find the house still standing. No surprise, as your smoke detector is working, and your insurance company is making certain of it. More insurance companies are offering premium discounts for sharing detector data. A shocking statistic is that 60% of civilian fire fatalities in the U.S. occurred in homes without a working smoke alarm and that 70% of smoke alarms fail to operate because of missing or dead batteries.

The soup and toast were wonderful. Now showered, dressed and energized you’re ready for work. Then the phone buzzes – “What did I have for breakfast?” You enter into a dialogue with your AI-powered diet coach. It inquires about your eating habits and discusses your personal weight and health targets. It closes out the conversation, encouraging you by letting you know what a good job you’ve been doing. Yay! BMI is already an entrenched factor for many insurance plans, so a personal dietary coach to help you eat healthy and achieve weight loss targets can assist to reduce premiums. Several companies are exploring the use of AI technology to effectively implement behavior change associated with dietary and exercise programs.

Off to work

Today, your car is in the workshop, so you take an Uber to work. As luck would have it, you get a Driverless Uber, so today has already turned out to be really geeky.

See also: How the ‘Internet of Things’ Affects Strategic Planning

Arriving at the construction site, you put on your work protection gear. Inside your gear, the wearable sensors plug you into the overall workforce management system for the site – your every move is now tracked. You know that safety always comes first. Since the new wearable system has been in place, accidents and injuries on the site have reduced significantly. Insurers are investing in and exploring the use of wearables and other related systems as a way of reducing workers’ compensation risk.

The bottom line

Had I had written this article five years ago, many would have scoffed at it as a work of pure fantasy. I am happy to say that all of the above cases are very real and do have insurance links. It goes to show that the range and depth of data available are rapidly expanding, and with it our ability to modify the risk equation. In our industry, that’s a big deal. So, next time someone says “IoT,” remember the big opportunity that goes beyond the usual suspects. You can be certain that someone out there is already thinking about how to exploit them.

This article first appeared at The Digital Insurer.