- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Wearables @ Work – You Just Watch

The introduction of the Apple Watch is moving wearable technology  out of running shoes and into business brogues. Wearables have thus far been seen mainly as consumer focused; however, there is increased interest in business generally, and for insurance organizations specifically.

Wearables started on a one-way path …

Wearable technology  has been envisioned by SciFi writers for over a half century.  However, the modern version began with the fitness movement, and the desire to measure all forms of movement (and rest).  The FitBit, brought out in 2008 seems to be the demarcation point for digital clothing accessories.

The FitBit (and its competitors)  continues to evolve functionally, and it has become a tool for one insurer – Manulife – to track activity and earn discounts for health insurance.  Think of it as telematics for you.

And, as with the current telematics system, most of the information goes in one direction – from the measured (car, you) to a recipient computer.

But broadcast is turning to conversation for insurers …

When we start to exploit the capability of the devices to receive as well as transmit, things start to get more interesting.  A recent article in Claims Journal notes the use of Google Glass by Georgia based National ConnectForce Claims (NCC). In the event of a large claim, the adjuster can receive information, say from the last inspection, to use as a baseline for recording the impact.  At the same time, the device can record information on the affected area in a hands free manner.

This can be used for the specific claim and can be  generalized as a tool for new adjusters. Michael Hearn, director of operations of NCC, said  “We will be able to use this technology for real-time claims and catastrophic event assessments and to assist in training prospective adjusters.”

Talk about a 360 view of the client …

eMarketer reported on a March 2015 study which found that most organizations are interested in using wearables for tracking employee productivity.  Beyond that, the top use cases  included “improving the customer experience thanks to real-time access to customer data, business analytics and alerts, and customer instruction and coaching.”

The survey found that companies were keen to use wearables to gather data about customers using wearables.  Interestingly, two thirds of respondents to the survey indicated they were moderately ready, very ready, or completely ready to “gain actionable insights” from the data gathered by the wearable devices.

(I suspect that the P&C industry is at a lower level of readiness.)

The Good Connection Giveth, and the Cyber Creep Taketh Away….

No conversation about expanding data collection can avoid the topic of cyber risk.  A March 2015 bulletin from Zurich notes the the release of the Apple Watch is poised to revolutionize the wearable market, and offers suggestions to brokers on the top 3 insurance risks:

  • Underinsurance. Although most devices are priced in the accessible range, costs can mount up.  The high end Apple watch is C$15,500.  Brokers are cautioned to remind insureds of their current limits.
  • Data Security.*  For organizations which distribute data to mobile devices, wearable technology provides another dimension of cyber risk that needs to be evaluated.
  • Loss of personal information.* Data are being collected by wearables that go well beyond existing data stores for most individuals (vital signs, bank account information, etc.).  Insureds need to be reminded that sensitive information is available on the device and, potentially,  with organizations that are transmitting the data.

*(Although Zurich does not mention this, I would think that biometric authentication will start to be prevalent with wearables and could increase the security of these devices.)

What do you think?

Do you see wearables for business? What are your top use cases?  Does this raise your concerns about security/privacy?

We will give extra points if you provide your input via Google Glass or Apple Watch.