How Wearable Technology Can Impact Insurance
Tom Benton | April 14, 2014
As long as I can remember, I’ve been a gadget guy. Those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s were among the first generation to have a television in the living room. During the 80s and 90s, my kids were in the first generation to grow up with a desktop PC in the living room, and early cell phones and iPods in their pockets.
As they left home for college in the late 90's and 2000s, they were the first generation to have laptops and netbooks in their dorm rooms, while I began using Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and email-enabled devices like those from Palm and Blackberry at work. Now in the 2010s, I was one of the first to order an iPad, Kindle Fire, and Android tablet, along with a succession of various mobile smartphones.
In May 2012, I ordered a Pebble smartwatch on the crowd funding website Kickstarter, where it raised over $10 million from an initial goal of $100,000. I received my device in February 2013 and Pebble recently improved the functionality through a firmware update and a new watch app store.
In mid-2013, Google introduced Glass device and the Glass Explorer program. I signed up as soon as the program opened, but eventually decided not to take the plunge—the device currently costs $1,500 but is expected to cost much less once in general production later this year.
Last June, I ordered a Fitbit Flex fitness band then in November replaced it with the Fitbit Force, the upgraded device with OLED display. Sadly, I was among the first to develop the allergic reaction that led to the voluntary recall of the Force. Being an early adopter of new technology has its downside.
2014 promises to be the year of wearable technology. Google recently announced Android Wear, an extension to Android aimed at wearable devices. Several manufacturers are planning to introduce wearable products, hoping for the same success Pebble found initially in the smartwatch market.
Companies are also developing wearable devices for the healthcare market, where they meet the need of continuous monitoring while allowing patients to be mobile and active. With the coming wave of wearable devices, the question is: what kind of impact can they have on the insurance industry?
Wearables and Insurance
Wearable devices have key capabilities that potentially lead to interesting applications for insurance professionals:
- Wearables capture information about the wearer's surroundings - example: Google Glass. Glass is able to capture high resolution images and video, leaving hands free to take notes, which could be useful for capturing claims information in the field. National ConnectForce Claims is evaluating the use of Glass to provide real-time feedback from field adjusters to claims systems for evaluation in the office.
- Wearables record movement patterns of the wearer. For example: Fitbit Flex. Fitness tracking bands like those from Fitbit, Nike, and Jawbone record the wearer's motion and are designed to be worn 24x7. Software then analyzes the number of steps, active vs passive activity, and restlessness during sleep. A startup called Walkmore proposes to monitor movement, analyze it along with other "big data" and provide feedback to financial institutions to determine loan risk. While their approach currently uses a smartphone app, it could be extended to use information provided by a wearable device and to assess insurance risk factors.
- Wearables can provide feedback to the wearer. For example: Pebble.
- Smartwatches can leverage the information-gathering capability of the smartphone to provide notifications to the user when holding the phone is not safe, such as when driving. Fitness tracking bands can provide wearers with feedback as indicators of a healthy lifestyle. Walgreens and others have developed programs aimed at providing rewards by earning points for steps taken. Similar programs could be introduced by health insurers as part of wellness programs.
Wearables and You
Smart eyewear, fitness tracking bands, and smartwatches will continue to evolve this year, and new applications will be introduced, including apps from financial services companies. Fidelity released a Pebble smartwatch app for the recent launch of Pebble’s app store.
My recommendation is to purchase or borrow a wearable and use it for a few weeks. Learn not only what capabilities the device offers, but also what changes it can make in your lifestyle. Think about how the information it gathers or provides could be used for assessing or avoiding insurance risk. Dream up the next application that will disrupt the insurance industry. If you do, let me know. I know a gadget guy who might be interested in trying it out.
Tom Benton is a principal in the insurance practice at Novarica with expertise in IT strategy, business process reengineering, core systems implementation, and project management, primarily for life and annuities. Prior to joining Novarica, he served as VP, Technology and Systems at Navy Mutual. He holds a BS degree from Cornell University and a MS degree from MIT and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Electronic Chat with Tara Kelly
- Electronic Chat with Chuck Wilson
- ITA, InsNerds Collaborate to Enhance ITA LIVE 2020 Content and Coverage
- How SMBs Can Compete in Digital Ecosystems in the 2020s
- 4 Ways Insurance Can Prepare for New Data Privacy Laws
- Brewer Lane Ventures Launches and Hires Insurtech Vet Martha Notaras as Managing Partner
- 2020 GIA Cohort Launches on January 14
- The November/December 2019 ITA Pro is here!
- Electronic Chat with Joshua Snead
- Electronic Chat with Wendy Aarons-Corman
- Simplifying the Move to a Third-party Print Provider
- Take a Business-Driven Approach to Continuous Improvement for Core Systems and Processes
- Electronic Chat with Ron Glozman
- Guidewire’s Data Guru Mike Byam on How Insurers are Using Internal and Third-Party Data
- Electronic Chat with Russ Bostick
- Electronic Chat with Rock Schindler
- Electronic Chat with John Siegman
- Electronic Chat with Martin Burlingame
- Insurtech Landscape 2019: Top 5 Takeaways
- Grinnell Mutual Tackles Massive Transformation -- in Stride
- A Candid Conversation with Paul Mang
- SageSure Insurance Managers Improved Competitiveness by Consolidating Payments to a Single Digital Platform
- Digital Does Matter in Insurance-- And Insurers are Missing the Mark
- The 22nd-Century Insurer: Taking a Cloud-First IT Approach
- The September/October 2019 issue of ITA PRO magazine is now available in digital format here:
- ITA Pro Magazine May/June 2019
- Spotlight on the 2019 IASA Conference
- ValueMomentum Selects Erie as Site of Regional Development Center
- Capgemini and Majesco Become Alliance Partners
- Electronic Chat with Dr. Dan Shoham
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum
- Martha Notaras: The “Outsider” with an Amazing Inside View
- Electronic Chat with Larissa Tosch
- Martha Notaras Will Join ITA LIVE 2019 as a Keynote Speaker
- Five Things to Consider When Evaluating Your Cyber Risk
- ITA Pro Magazine, January/February 2019
- Synergy Between Insurers' IT and Analytics Teams Key to Operationalizing Insights, Says Novarica
- Major Ransomware Attack Could Hit U.S. with $89B In Economic Damages
- ITA Announces 1st of Three Keynote Speakers at ITA LIVE 2019
- Electronic Chat with Jeroen Morrenhof
- Legacy Systems Are Dead. Really? Don't Count On It.
- Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 ITA Bridge Awards
- It's time to register for ITA LIVE!
- Registration is Now Open for ITA LIVE 2019!
- What to Expect from a Digital Experience Platform Implementation
- ITA Pro Magazine September Edition is Now Available
- It's National IT Professionals Day
- Save the Date for ITA-LIVE 2019
- OneShield Software and UrbanStat Work Together to Improve Real-Time Analytics and Risk Decision-Making
- ITA LIVE 2019 - SAVE THE DATE!
- Insurance Technology Association Announces New Editor-in-Chief
- August 2018 Edition ITA Pro Magazine is Now Available
- Enterprise Architecture in an Agile World
- Top 10 Tips for Securing Your Mobile Devices and Sensitive Client Data
- Industry Insight: 4 Global Insurance Trends in Digital, Data, Content Services and Security
- Diving Deeper into Prioritizing Your Strategic Digital investments
- Why Content Rules
- How Mass Personalization Will Open the Small Business Benefits Market
- At Year End 2017, Will Your Organization Be Protected from Cyber Risks?
- Do Insurance Bots Dream of Mitigating Risk?
- Conditioned to Respond
- Managing & Mobilizing Insurance Data in a Connected World
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- BrokerTech Ventures Selects 12 Startups for 2020 Accelerator
- Weston Insurance selects Prima XL to support P&C CAT activities
- Ethos Risk Services Joins Guidewire PartnerConnect Solution Alliance Program
- Crawford Technologies Continues Aggressive Investment Strategy with Acquisition of Composition Research Technologies, Inc. (CRT)
- CIAB Picks ExdionPOD as a Top Insurtech Solution for Helping Brokers Automate Policy Checking and Issuance
- Insurance Board Selects Origami Risk for Automation and Apps to Streamline Underwriting Process
- Blackboard Insurance Receives Approval in Virginia
- Great Hill Partners Completes Recapitalization of One Inc
The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
ITA LIVE 2020
ITA LIVE 2020 –SAVE THE DATE!
April 5th – 7th, 2020
The Diplomat Resort
Become a member today to receive updates – www.itapro.org/MR
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE
Case study of how a Fortune 500 employee benefits provider serving 35 million insureds throughout the U.S. and Europe transitioned from in-house... READ MORE
- Vendor Views