Monte Carlo, Monaco (Sept. 13, 2016) – Google is weighing another foray into the realm of insurance. Six months after shuttering its last venture, online insurance comparison-shopping aggregator Google Compare, the tech company is seeking partnerships with insurance companies for its own businesses, such as smart home device company Nest Labs.
“With some of the things we have done around Nest, we have been working with insurers in France like AXA and Allianz to develop bundles of products which blend technology and hardware with insurance,” said Nick Leeder, Managing Director of Google France, during a panel discussion on “Trends, Cycles and Disruptions” today at the annual meeting of the reinsurance industry held in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Nest, which was acquired by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. in 2014, makes programmable, network-enabled, sensor-driven smart home devices including “learning” thermostats and smoke detectors. The takeaway is that Google is not planning to enter the insurance market directly.
“We’re clearer about the role that we can play and what we can add, and we are looking for partners,” Leeder told Reuters, conceding that Google Compare “didn’t work as well as we’d like.” But Google’s abandonment of its price-comparison project was not a permanent withdrawal from the insurance industry, and Leeder suggested there are opportunities for insurers to leverage the home automation company.
In March, the World Insurance Report 2016 by consultancy Capgemini found that Google was one of a handful of retail giants – including Amazon, Walmart and Rakuten – to signal advances into the insurance industry. But Google topped the list, thanks to a strong brand and broad access to real-time data about both the customer and the environment, with more than 40 per cent of insurers describing the search technology behemoth as the most significant threat.
“Google is definitely a game-changer based on their immense [trove of] data and on their innovation cycles,” said Michel Gicot, Head of Corporate Development at Swiss insurance group Die Mobiliar.
Meanwhile, Leeder indicated Google has no plans in the works to offer insurance coverage directly, but added that nothing could be ruled out absolutely.
“We are not a company that uses the word ‘never’ much, so it’s difficult to rule things in or out,” Leeder said. “I think there are things that we are good at and things we are not good at.”
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About Nest Labs
Nest is focused on making simple, human, delightful things. That’s how we’re creating the thoughtful home: A home that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it. For more information, visit Nest.com.