June 29, 2017

Insurance & the IoT: The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown

 

Forbes defines the Internet of Things (often abbreviated as IoT) as “The concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the internet (and/or to each other).”¹ This concept, of being able to connect to anything at any time, is driving industry changes today—as markets strategize processes and pivot products to keep in step with emerging technologies. The insurance industry is no exception, and while it can be daunting to adjust to cultural shifts, the time to transform is now. What does this transformation look like? What will the IoT mean for insurance companies? What is the good, the bad, and the unknown?

We’re glad you asked.

The Good

There are many ways that technology is transforming the industry today. Connectivity in the world of insurance means carriers can archive and retrieve important documents in a digital format, which can be reviewed online or rendered as print-ready files. Agents can retrieve and send policy statements, invoices, and other documents with ease. Improving practices and keeping pace with technological advances is beneficial not only for industry professionals, but also for industry consumers. As consumers grow accustomed to having preferred payment options available at their fingertips, insurance companies have answered the call of convenience by providing additional billing and payment solutions. Policyholders expect to be able to view and pay their premiums by mail, in person, over the phone, online, via email, by text message, or with a native mobile app. Mobile apps also provide insurance companies the ability to give customers instant access to policy information and tools for submitting and managing claims. Carriers can improve both TCPA compliance and customer satisfaction by communicating with policyholders in their channel of choice. Partnerships between insurance carriers and communication providers like KUBRA mean that today’s carriers and policyholders can communicate faster and more clearly than ever before.

The Bad

In the present tech climate, one of the key challenges facing the insurance industry is providing customer experiences that match those of younger, less regulated, and more nimble industries. Consumers have high standards and expect modern processes across industries regardless of the various constraints a particular industry might have. Insurance companies are no stranger to high expectations and inflexible constraints. PwC reports, “Insurance is the industry most affected by disruptive change. . . [CEOs] are extremely concerned about the threats to their growth prospects from the speed of technological change, changing customer behavior, and competition from new market entrants.”² Agencies are increasingly faced with the threat of outdated practices and under-informed policyholders, and void of heavy innovation and successful partnerships, both insurance providers and consumers will remain subject to the growing pains.

The Unknown

All things considered, the future of insurance and the IoT is worth looking forward to. Industry specialists predict pivotal advancements in customer communications, including:³

  • Agent/carrier alerts (such as storm, incident, or claim updates from environmental sensors or back-office systems)
  • Customer alerts (such as storm/incident alerts or claim updates sent to mobile devices, smart home devices or a smart car)
  • Improved claims processing (such as map-based claims reporting, photo reporting)
  • Artificial Intelligence (such as voice-activated claims, alerts, and bill pay)

Improving current industry functions and creating new solutions will allow carriers not only to keep pace with client expectations and tech trends, but also to define new ways to deliver customer-centric care to policyholders while reducing costs for providers. Many of these technologies are currently in production, and motivated insurance companies can be among the first to implement them. While there remains much in question for the future of insurance, it is undeniable that if carriers rise to the challenges ahead, a more efficient and collaborative network awaits.

In examination of the good, the bad, and the unknown future of insurance – it’s evident providers are on the precipice of great challenge and transformation. Consulting services provider Mercer suggests one of the greatest challenges facing the industry is “Turning the promise of new technology and big data into commercial successes. This includes capitalizing on the opportunities in mobile and web-based services, using big data and predictive analytics effectively, and overcoming the problems associated with legacy technologies.”4 These advances are a tall order for most carriers; nonetheless, they’re not left solely to their own devices. PwC reports that “Most insurers are looking outside the industry for the best ways to improve their systems, processes, and products.”² Third-party solution providers like KUBRA offer insurance agencies help with processing payments, policyholder communications, marketing services, and document archival and retrieval. Together with partnerships, creativity, and focus on the consumer, the insurance industry can look forward to finding its place within the realm of the IoT.

 

1 Forbes, “A Simple Explanation Of ‘The Internet Of Things,’” May 2014 

2 PwC, “Top Issues,” 2017

Forbes, “5 Ways the IoT Will Transform the Insurance Agency,” February 2016

4 Mercer, “Business and Workforce Challenges in the Global Insurance Industry,” December 2014