- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Location, Location, Location

It is becoming clear that location is the next big dimension for social media users and developers.  Marketers seem to have clear thoughts about opportunities.  So where is the insurance community on this?

According to trend watcher, SocialMediaExaminer, since location-based check-in using mobile devices  (wherein you and your friends can keep track of all your respective physical locations and can engage in games) originated at South by Southwest  in 2009 with a new App, Foursqaure, there has been exponential growth (now 7.5 million users).  There has been corresponding exponential interest by marketers who are interested in pairing activity with location, and moving towards location based marketing.

The technology is already embedded in mobile devices, some of which, including the Apple iPhone, are being called out for security concerns in how the date are stored, and potentially accessed by unauthorized third parties.  And other social media applications are busy linking to location apps (such as Foursquare, or are building their own.

Does this mean anything for insurers?  In previous posts, we have noted that after a long development period, telematics – electronically tracking automobile usage for underwriting and risk management purposes, is gaining traction with insurers and third party providers who see advantages for insurers having greater depth and bredth of information on usage.

Expanding the range of this advantage from a fixed asset (an automobile) to an individual (with a cell phone) may sound attractive.  However, insurer’s systems, natural conservative tendencies, and privacy concerns may slow the uptake.  Mark Breading, of SMA – Strategy Meets Action – was recently interviewed on the issue by Insurance & Technology, and offered this outlook: “In theory you could marry that up to location-based info for a particular client and provide them advice and guidance. I think the leaders are going to experiment with it just like they always do, but I don’t think there’s going to be any large rush toward this. Carriers are busy enough trying to catch up and refocus after a couple lean years and address the latent demand they have for IT services.”