There has been a lot of discussion among insurers and the general public about the impact of “wearables” such as Fitbit, the Apple Watch or Google Glass on insurance premiums. Much of the debate has taken place in the life sector, as various parties weigh the obvious benefits of being able to monitor policyholders’ heart rates and activity levels against data and privacy concerns.

As part of Accenture’s Technology Vision for Insurance 2015, a survey of more than 200 insurance executives across nine countries found that 63 percent of respondents believe that wearable technologies will be adopted broadly by the insurance industry within the next two years, while nearly one-third (31 percent) said they are already using wearables to engage customers, employees or partners.

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Wearables are also having a significant impact on the property and casualty side of the insurance business. As reported in Insurance Journal, claims adjusters at National ConnectForce Claims (NCC) in Alpharetta, Georgia began testing Google Glass last spring to help adjusters deal with complex loss situations.

Erie Insurance has another test in the works.  According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, a claims specialist at Erie watched the work of an Erie Insurance adjuster at his own home, encumbered by a laptop, digital camera, cell phone, voice recorder and tape measure. A Google Glass adaptation lets the adjusters work hands-free and lets them interact more easily with customers.

We see this pattern all the time with innovative technology. Big claims are made about new technologies; there are some initial successes and initial disappointments; and then the real, practical uses start to emerge. It’s happening with Google Glass and it will happen with other wearables.

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