I’ve read more than my share of news stories claiming the insurance industry hasn’t changed much. And there’s a little truth to that — the fundamental function and approach, calculating risk and charging customers based on that risk — is pretty similar to the plans that protected London homeowners back in the mid-1600s.
That said, our industry, like every industry, is shifting and changing with technology. It’s often in really cool ways, too — ways that are directly beneficial to both insurers and insurees. I think that’s only going to become more true in the years to come.
Chronicling all the ways technology is changing (and improving) insurance would take a fairly lengthy book. So here, I’ll share just a few things that have grabbed my attention, and that I think are worth keeping an eye on.
You might not know the word “telematics,” but you probably know what it represents: those installed devices that collect and report real-time data, i.e. the dongles you can put in your car to track your driving habits.
We may not all love the idea of a device marking our every move, but the main point is to make risk calculation more accurate and personalized. When an insurer can see, in clear data, what kind of a driver you are, they can build a policy that fits you, and set rates accordingly. It makes rates less theoretical/trend-based (focused on things like your car and age), and more specific to an individual customer, by tracking anything from how fast you drive to how abruptly you stop.
If you’re an aggressive driver, this might not sound like the greatest development, but for those of us who stick tight to the rules, it usually means lower premiums. It’s worth looking into, especially if you don’t drive a ton, and when you do, it’s safely. (Several of the companies I work with offer telematics gadgets; let me know if you want to talk more about specifics.)
It’s kind of amazing how many different industries drones are beginning to touch, from wedding photography to product delivery. In the insurance industry, they’re being used for things like inspecting storm damage to residential roofs, and assessing areas that have been impacted by natural disasters.
There are a lot of benefits to both customers and companies — safety risks for field adjusters can be minimized, as can claim wait times for clients. Drone fleets have already joined a host of major insurers, including State Farm and Farmers, and I’d bet that’ll continue to fly further.
SMARTPHONES AND WEARABLES
Insurance companies are making all kinds of things available at the touch of a smartphone screen, from inputting claims to getting updates about necessary account adjustments.
One thing a lot of insurance customers don’t consider, though, is how these tools are helping to minimize insurance fraud, which ultimately helps us all get lower rates. A figure from the National Insurance Crime Bureau: consumers pay an annual average of $200 to $300 more in premiums to offset insurance fraud costs.
Wearables and smartphones can provide data to law enforcement and adjusters that back up or debunk claims — think, say, someone who’s claimed a lack of mobility in the wake of an accident, whose smartwatch data shows them to be frequenting a local CrossFit gym. Straight shooters benefit from these kinds of technology moves; fraud-inclined customers don’t.
SMART HOMES/INTERNET OF THINGS TOOLS
Anything we do to minimize risk has an effect on our insurance rates. And insurance companies are responding to the ways that smart home gadgets are protecting homes and their inhabitants. Nowadays, we can add smart doorbells that help minimize break-ins, and sensors that can detect a leaking pipe and allow us to shut the water off with an app. Some insurance companies are already working in policy discounts for devices like those, and it’s another area I expect to see broadening.
I’ll always say that a human touch — especially with something like insurance — is hugely important. (It’s a big part of why I think using an independent insurance broker is better.) But I can also see how some parts of underwriting/claims/etc. processes can benefit from smart automation. “Smart” being the key word there.
Artificial intelligence is coming into play, from chatbots to algorithms that recognize inaccuracies. Moving forward, experts think AI is going to help perfect risk assessment to make policies more personalized and more specific. Some insurance companies are already using AI to more pointedly pick out gaps and unnecessary inclusions in customers’ coverage. I see AI working in tandem with human beings to make the whole experience better — and, I hope, more affordable.
I’m intrigued and fascinated by all the ways living in the future is improving my clients’ experience, and saving them money. If you’re super into tech innovations, I’d be glad to look specifically at policies that suit that interest. If you prefer the old-fashioned human-being-on-the-phone experience, I’m more than happy to help there too.
Call or email Tucker Coverage with any Nashville insurance questions you might have. For a quick/easy way to get started, you can also grab an online insurance quote, for home/auto/renters insurance, small business insurance and life insurance.