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Insurance Industry Disrupted, The Quantified-Self - Wearables, Telematics, Code Halos and Digital Transformation

By Peter Abatan, Studio Thirteen, Cognizant

The New Finance Meet-up group is currently running a 6 part series over a period of 6 months to determine what could disrupt the Insurance industry. In the most recent meet-up the focus was on how the quantified-self could disrupt the insurance industry. I came away from the meet-up with the conclusion that smart insurers will begin to develop products that are more customizable to the individual needs rather than offering products desiged on demographics, i.e. where you live, your age group, family size etc.

So what is the quantified-self? The quantified-self is the data that has been accumulated on the individual’s behavior, health status, medical conditions and overall well-being by the individual themselves (We call this data Code Halos at Cognizant). In the future many experts believe that it will be the basis on which insurance products are sold to customers.

There is still a lot of controversy around ownership of data and whether once that data has been released to an insurer whether it can be withdrawn, and whether an adverse event could impact or prevent an individual from being able to buy an insurance product. However, many experts have come to the conclusion, that smart insurers would use this adverse data to help customers to manage that event better rather than use it as an opportunity to charge very high premiums.

For example if you drive more in the night you are three times more likely to have an accident than someone who drives during the day (Forbes). In this scenario, your insurance company can help with providing tools that minimize the probability of that happening instead of charging very high premiums for someone who has driven in the night for the last 20 years and never had an accident. There are no guarantees that the person would never have an accident in the future, but the tools provided can help reduce that risk to a minimum.

There were about 40 to 50 delegates that attended and attendees came from new start-ups, the technology and insurance sectors. The session started with a product feature from Francis White from AliveCor. AliveCor is a heart monitor that provides individuals with the ability to track heart health anywhere, anytime at an affordable cost, you can see more about the device at www.alivecor.com. What is great about this company is that it has a cloud strategy in which you can grant access to your ECG data. It also has alerts that will warn you of any impending dangers and therefore recommend that you contact your physician. The device is portable enough to fit onto the back of a smartphone and takes the ECG reading from both thumbs allowing you to take readings anytime and anywhere.

The second product feature was by Matt Lewis, the founder of Quantid (www.quantid.co), a start-up that is aiming to revolutionize the health industry. Quantid already does what MapMyWalk and Training Peaks already does and more. Quantid describes itself as the Facebook of quantified human data. It is a social networking platform, enabling users of personal tracking devices and apps to make profound improvements to their health, fitness and overall well-being by delivering insights and analysis of their quantified personal data. Although at the time of writing this report their website was down, I can say that the founder has some well meaning ambitions.

Quantid supports a rich set of features; the application integrates with most popular tracking products on the market, making it easy for users to access all their personal data aggregated within a single platform; it allows users to share specific datasets with friends, doctors and other practitioners; and it offers the ability to set reminders, goals and challenges. Quantid plans to amass an enormous database of quantified human data. "By leveraging the power of big data analytics we plan to develop sophisticated algorithms to identify trends and correlations, enabling our customers to generate powerful insights into their behavior, health status, medical conditions and overall well-being." The key challenge to Quantid is the matter of trust, and the guarantee that the customer’s data would never under any circumstances be sold or given to third parties.

The host for the meet-up, Eddie George, took 10 minutes describing what the quantified-self is and how wearables are key to this concept. He described it as all the vital health and other data that could affect how you are offered insurance premiums. Your health and activity data or the lack of it will, in the future, affect the premiums that you pay for health and life insurance.  It will also impact your vehicle insurance. This also led to the question as to how much of your quantified-self do you let your insurance company know about you in order to offer a fair premium.

George identified 3 challenges that face the quantified-self namely, aggregation, analysis and access. Aggregation in the sense that currently individuals are in possession of different types of data related to their health and physical training/activity, therefore it might make analysis a lot more challenging, also access to this data is highly siloed and spread across different providers.

After George’s description of quantified-self we were all split up into break out sessions where we discussed whether there is a benefit for insurance companies and the individual when it comes to this subject matter? One key outcome from my break out group was that, if insurance companies could use the quantified-self to help the individual to make better decisions, rather than punish through hefty premiums it will guarantee the survival of that organization in what is considered a very competitive landscape. Another lesson shared was that insurance companies should start to use technology and the quantified-self to bring individuals on the fringe who normally find it difficult to get insurance into the fold and make the insurance products more accessible to these group of people.

From the number of representatives from the insurance industry at the meet-up, one thing was clear, the insurance industry knows digital transformation is imminent, and they do not want to be caught unawares when this happens.  They want to approach it from a position of strength, rather than from a position of weakness by developing a closer and stronger relationship with their customers by offering better products and services that are value for money.

Peter Abatan is a project manager and a team member of Studio13, a design studio which provides product and service design to a wide variety of Cognizant’s customers in various market sectors.

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Kevin Benedict
Digital Curator, Writer, Speaker
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.