Clothes maketh man – smart clothes reveal him

If reinsurers and insurers have historically lacked comprehensive data on the consumer, rapid improvements in the quality, range and accessibility of data offer greater capacity for focusing on the end customer.

It’s difficult to engage the world today without technology. Technology no longer stands alone from our everyday lives – it is increasingly a seamless part of everything we do, the data derived from it driving the strategic decisions on which marketing success depends. So it’s always interesting to see where the year’s tech developments are heading, and what that means for the customer experience – and how that may impact the insurance industry.

A good barometer of that direction of travel is the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in Las Vegas each January. Beyond the eye-catching fantasy products such as the over-engineered Bluetooth-enabled pregnancy tester, the serious business of life and health makes wearables the place to look for developments that offer a step-change in the quality and quantity of available data.

Customer-centric smart data propositions could meaningfully alter the perception of the industry

CES 2016 saw the definition of “wearable” tech broaden beyond the wrist, with everything from smart shirts, smart suits, smart bras and smart glasses – the invisible device that promises to take monitoring beyond the heartbeat and the glucose level to real-time reporting of a customer’s lifestyle, transforming the data space even further.

Broader, better quality customer data
It’s not hard to imagine the potential of comprehensive, real-time customer data streams. Wearables feed the human instinct for self-improvement and help fuel the wellness programmes which, underpinned by real-time data from non-intrusive health and prescription compliance monitoring devices, have the potential to improve the mortality experience of existing policyholders.

The customer value proposition here is clear. For insurers, effective development of such smart data propositions holds out the tantalising prospect of future reserve releases – as the industry has seen in the significant mortality improvement of policyholders with HIV/AIDS.

It is also possible to imagine such wellness and wearable regimes providing the platform to offer better value rates to new customers with chronic conditions, or expanding the insurable market more widely to include those with a range of well-managed chronic conditions who may have previously been considered uninsurable.

Real time, holistic monitoring holds the potential for truly personal propositions, moving from generic cover with risks excluded, to truly personal cover which reflects and responds to a specific life and lifestyle – with dynamic pricing built in to reward those who mitigate their own risk – the sort of rewards for behaviour which are the building blocks of today’s customer experience.

Such customer-centric smart data propositions could meaningfully alter the perception of the industry as a whole, with concomitant benefits for every aspect of the business.