In this series, I’ve been discussing seven major innovation trends we have identified by analyzing our database of over 750 innovations submitted to the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2017.

In discussing the previous trends, I’ve highlighted ways in which innovative insurers are leveraging the proliferation of digital technologies to help them put customers at the center of their business in their mission to navigate disruption and transform themselves into everyday insurers.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) in particular are at the forefront of digital technologies insurers are leveraging to go beyond simply providing insurance cover. With the exponential growth of connected devices in our homes, cars, pockets and even bodies, and the corresponding continuous decrease of their unit costs, insurers will be able to move away from pooling and pricing risk toward analyzing an unprecedented wealth of data to provide real-time risk assessment – and even help customers avoid loss in the first place.  

A number of this year’s submissions to the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards offered Real-Time Protection. A few notable examples that demonstrate this trend in action follow.

The UK’s Home Serve Labs is a tech startup with a clever invention. Their ‘LeakBot’ innovation is a simple to install, clip-on device that can detect even small water leaks in a home’s plumbing system. In the event of a leak, the device alerts the homeowner with a text message to their mobile phones.  When they originally brought the product to market, Home Serve encountered an unexpected roadblock. Customer enthusiasm for the device proved to be less than they had anticipated because homeowners were not sufficiently concerned about the risk. In a smart pivot from B2C to B2B2C, Home Serve went to insurers instead, for whom escaped water is the major single peril for home insurance in Western Europe and the US. The device was inexpensive enough for insurers to include it with their home policies, while being valuable to the insurers themselves.

Canada’s Desjardin Assurances Generales has a similar connected sensor called ‘Alert’. Not only does Alert sound the alarm in the event of a leak, it can also detect other potential problems like high humidity and freezing temperatures. Alert uses text messaging (no need for an additional app) to reach clients in the event of an issue.

Moving away from water leaks and into the peer-to-peer space, Accenture’s joint initiative with the Netherlands’ Achmea debuted ‘Homies’, an alarm and security platform connecting home security solutions with popular messaging apps like Whatsapp and Facebook  Messenger. By connecting neighbours in social housing communities—areas typically underserved by the insurance industry—Homies hopes to foster a culture of trust and security among its clients.

Check back again for my next post, in which I’ll discuss a fifth trend, Empowering the Workforce.

For further insights into the topic of innovation in insurance, please watch this video featuring winners at the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2017.

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