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Tech Trends Shaping the Insurance Industry

To be a successful agent, tips on using new insurance trends, and the technology that drives them, are vital.

Technology Resistance or Passivity?

Some “new” technology is actually several years old, but is only now really catching on. For instance, although only slowly accepted, UBI, or usage based insurance, gained traction in recent years. UBI uses small telemetric devices connected to insured’s cars to track their mileage, driving habits and usage. More common in Europe and other regions of the world, these insurance technology trends increase the ability of insurers to provide the correct protection at the proper price.

Gadgets Galore

Whether worn on our bodies, incorporated into our homes, or installed in our cars, technological gadgets permeate our everyday lives. Some even think these things are “blurring the physical and the digital world.”

What types of gadgets are at issue? Everything from google glasses to automobile computers, all of which provide a huge amount of information about the people who use those devices.  All the data gathered eventually affects even the smallest insurance agency. Tips on properly utilizing the data may follow at a slower rate. Additionally, there may be some push back before universal acceptance occurs.

Mobile Produced Data

Computing moved up and off desktops years ago (eons in tech time). Smart phones track individual’s purchases, GPS systems report on their whereabouts, and even loyalty programs provide marketers with data for leads. New tech items excite consumers because of the applications they offer, and to businesses because of the data they provide. For instance, Google Glass provides:

  • Audio for notifications, phone calls, etc.
  • Touch controls to navigate through timeline and access home screen
  • A camera for taking pictures and videos
  • Access to information on:
    • current time
    • emails
    • pictures
    • video clips
    • search results

The new Apple Watch (available in early 2015) features apps, scrolling capabilities, and even tells time. Intended as a “companion device” to iPhones, it notifies users of incoming calls, messages, and other alerts.

Both Google Glass and the Apple Watch likely will produce large amounts of user information. Existing, yet evolving direct technological tools are automobile telematics devices. Usage based insurance is not possible without telematics. Telematics provide constant information on a driver’s vehicle usage and driving behaviors, giving insurance companies the power to assess the risks associated with such behavior and charge an appropriate insurance premium.

The Need for Bigger and Better Computers

New insurance technology trends produce data. What is an insurance company to do with all the information gathered from all the cool gadgets people use these days? Crunch it into usable numbers and statistics, of course. The problem is, the computing infrastructure many companies utilize may not have the capability to handle the onslaught of data. A simple search on insurance infrastructure pulls up scores of results on cloud based Solutions for this problem.

The availability of all types of insurance products all over the globe increases not only the amount of information, but also its diversity and categorization. Insurance technology trends require IT systems capable of handling the onslaught of information coming in the near future.

Crowdsourcing and Insurance Trends

While many companies still depend upon an in-house workforce, more and more explore what may become the workforce of the future. Most trace the term “crowdsourcing” back to an article published in Wired in 2006. The article noted that companies had been shipping work overseas to cut costs, but that technology allowed companies to turn to the crowd to curb the rising cost of research.

Since then, crowdsourcing caught on, even in some surprising applications. According to Forbes.com, the Smithsonian and the National Archives are using crowdsourcing as a way for people to help identify images and historic documents. Where, at one time, telecommuting was the newest buzzword in employment, crowdsourcing trounces that concept. It goes beyond remote workers hired on a contract basis. It involves groups of individuals with particular talents who perform specific tasks, often at a low rate. The Cloud and other multi-participant sites make it possible for many people from numerous locations to collaborate on a single project.

Crowdsourcing works within the insurance agency, as evidenced by a 2012 competition Allstate ran for programs that correlate car types and injuries sustained in accidents. The winning entry (out of almost 1300 submitted) predicted claims 300% better than Allstate’s current method. The Wall Street Journal quoted a vice president of product research for Allstate as saying the money paid to run the crowdsourcing contest would have paid for about two weeks of actuarial consultant fees and no definite answers, whereas the crowdsourcing method only required payment for results that work.

Insurance Technology Trends and the Insurance Agent

Tips on new insurance gizmos and innovative ways of collecting information about insured are terrific, but how do they affect the agents out there selling the insurance products? There is a definite trickle-down effect. Many tech savvy consumers are drawn to companies that utilize innovative methods for determining how their business functions. Many other are purely price driven. Technology such as telemetric devices offers them a way to pay lower premiums – if they behave.

The important thing is to be aware of how insurance technology trends play a huge part in the insurance industry, so that when your clients ask about these insurance trends, agents are ready to respond.

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