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Hottest Toys on Holiday Lists, and What It Means for Insurance Marketers

Karen ImbrognoDecember 11, 2015

I can’t believe the New Year is just around the corner. That only means one thing – we have to get through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season first. There is so much shopping to do in so little time, and so many gifts to consider. And this year in particular, everywhere we turn we are surrounded by new and innovative technologies and gadgets that are generating loads of data. Some may even end up on my shopping list.

Should I buy my daughter something that provides entertainment, like the Xbox One, with state-of-the-art gaming, movies, and music? Did you know that it can jump from TV to movies to music and to the web, just with the sound of your voice? You can even chat or Skype while watching Scream Queens. It even learns what you like and don’t like. Talk about taking personalization to a whole new level! It’s even powered by the Cloud, so you don’t have to wait for updates. Microsoft thought of everything.

Then there’s my husband, the hard-to-buy-for person. Maybe I should get him some sort of wearable that promotes a healthier lifestyle, like a FitBit or Fitness Tracker. He knows how much I love my FitBit. Maybe we can compete against each other in daily challenges. Maybe I should consider an Apple Smart Watch. I heard it’s the most wanted gift on every man’s list this year.

Oh, and then there’s my Mother and Mother-in-law. I always worry about their safety. I guess I watch too many news stories about break-ins with elderly people. I did see this really cool device being advertised on TV called “Ring.” Apparently, it’s some sort of smart doorbell that lets you see and speak with visitors using your smartphone or tablet (kind of great for weeding out political canvassers or neighbors you don’t want to talk to, right?). Or, what about the “NEST Smoke Detector?” I worry if they ever have a fire in their apartment that they might not hear the alarm. Nest incorporates a number of sensors and alerts built in that you can quiet from your smart phone. Essentially, it’s a smoke alarm system on steroids.

The last person for whom I need to buy is my great niece. She keeps asking for a Propel HD Video Drone. You know, I just learned at a conference that the FAA requires anyone that has a Drone to register it with their administration. That’s crazy, but I can see why. I guess if your Drone causes damage, they need to hold someone accountable, and by the way, registering is not cheap. I can see how companies and our government can put these to use but I’m not quite sure what a seven year old can do with one of these, other than spying on her brother. I think I will opt for the VTech Kids Smartwatch instead.

Retailers will sell thousands of these new gadgets. As an Insurance Marketer, wouldn’t you like to capitalize on these innovations by using the data to better underwrite, reduce your risk exposure, attract better customers, expedite claims, and create discounts that give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace? The key for us is to really understand what data is being collected and stored, how it can be used, and how it can drive benefits for both the individual and the insurance carrier.

Imagine a couple of scenarios:

  • A life carrier uses FitBit data to tier or fast-track prospects through the underwriting process, maybe even reducing the need for a Paramed exam. That’s a huge savings.
  • An auto insurance carrier uses FitBit sleep data to understand when one of their drivers is at risk of causing an accident on the road and sends out a dollar-off Starbucks coupon. A dollar coupon is much cheaper than paying out on a claim.
  • A home insurance carrier offers a discount for customers that install the NEST Smoke Detector or RING device, giving them a competitive advantage in the market. They may also be able to use this to entice an auto customer to bundle their home. That’s a big win for retention.
  • A home insurance carrier deploys drones to take pictures of disaster sites, reducing risk of claims reps injuring themselves, and getting checks issued quicker, thus improving customer satisfaction.
  • A carrier introduces a new product: Personal Drone Insurance.

Applications and opportunities like these are but a small slice of virtually endless possibilities. If you are not thinking about the Internet of Things (IOT), you need to start thinking about it now. IOT products will present significant revenue opportunities, reducing risk, and reducing cost. Some carriers like USAA, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, and American Family are already exploring this space and introducing new programs, discounts, and products. As Acxiom’s resident insurance geek, I recently attended an IOT Insurance Conference, and learned that in order to be successful in this space you will need to all of the following:

  • Build an IOT strategy
  • Build an infrastructure
  • Collect the data
  • Connect it all together with the customer
  • Analyze the data
  • Use it to connect with your customer and create value

Don’t wait too long because others are already making things happen in this space. You don’t want to be left behind. Remember, some things may have changed, but the early bird still catches the worm.