The connected devices that make up the Internet of Things are increasingly becoming the interface between customers and the companies that provide them with products and services ranging from motor vehicles and fitness apparel through to insurance and home security.
At stake here is customer data, which is so valuable exactly because it translates into ownership of customer relationships. In the face of growing competition for customer data, insurers need to position themselves at the heart of the customer ecosystem if they are to take on the role of risk managers and value aggregators.
Telematics and other geo-location technologies can help insurers anticipate customer needs so that they can offer value-add services, like identifying and scheduling services such as rental facilities, body shops and insurer inspection locations.
Data collected from the connected car, home and business can give insurers clearer insight into the events that typically give rise to a claim. This not only supports risk assessment and underwriting; it also allows carriers to provide customers with precise, even personalized and up-to-the-minute information that helps them minimize their risk and avert the claim.
The good news is that our research indicates that insurance customers are also looking for this sort of relationship with their carriers. Our Digital Insurer Claims Customer Survey for 2014 finds that the majority (77 percent) of insurance customers would be willing to provide personal information if that enabled the carrier to reduce their premiums, speed up their claim settlement or help them manage their risk.
They would be most willing to give their auto insurer data about their mileage, the maintenance of their vehicle and their driving habits. Home insurance customers would be prepared to share information about energy consumption, smoke and carbon monoxide detection and motion detection.
As many as 70 percent of insurance customers would be interested in receiving alerts from home sensors warning them of danger. And Accenture’s Consumer-Driven Innovation Survey (2013) found that 92 percent of consumers expect their insurer to help them manage their risk rather than simply insure against it.
To take full advantage of the new world of connected insurance, insurers must evolve from manufacturing products to creating truly customer-centric business models and ecosystems. They will need new capabilities in multiple areas, including data management, customer-centricity and experience management, process and technology, and partner management.
But those that get it right can put themselves at the center of the web of connected devices, applications and services that their customers will—in the not-too-distant future—depend on every day.