The invention of grudgetech – part 1 of 2

“Anna’s” work and home life is made so much easier by the tech she uses, according to an article I read here yesterday. If only there were space for a smattering of insurtech …

(Too) trusting of tech?

I imagine that most of us recognise elements of that fictional day in our own real daily lives. Using smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo or Google Home, while not yet ubiquitous, is becoming more prevalent. Of course the depth to which we connect those boxes to the fabric of our daily life is entirely personal choice, and possibly reflects our individual level of trust in an always-listening, always-reporting device (or simply possibly our individual tech skills!).

Similarly, with apps and services like Uber, how many of us have now scrubbed it from our devices now that we know about the huge data breach in 2016?

Anna’s whole day is peppered with health trackers, smart lighting and heating, data filters etc – all of which she has “allowed” to learn her daily routines so that, in return, her day-to-day life is made easier.

And that’s the point. Knowingly or unknowingly, millions of us are prepared/happy(?) to trade/compromise our personal data in exchange for “things” that make our lives run more smoothly. They allow us not to have to think about such mundane things as putting the heating on, for example. Let’s call them “convenience tech” for now.

Even when we become aware that the systems sitting behind them (Uber and many others) have let us down by leaking our personal data, we simply change our passwords and keep ploughing on with them … don’t we?

For goodness sake, as of February 2017, 225 million people still have an active Yahoo mail account!

Clearly we are prepared to sacrifice a lot for the perceived benefit convenience tech brings.

So what does this have to do with *insurtech?

Mistrust of insurers

I guess it could mean one of two things.

Either it could mean that mass consumer adoption of insurtech is going to be a straightforward inevitability and that we’ll all incorporate it into our daily lives just as we do Uber and countless other data-reliant services.

Alternatively, as we’ve covered in a previous article, in a world cynical of insurance and insurers’ motives, insurtech is going to struggle to achieve the same trust that so many other non-insurance providers have already won.

The difference between the convenience tech that we have already adopted, and insurtech, lies in the product, service or benefit that sits behind them. Alexa saves us from having to get up and turn the lights on when we’re already comfortable on the sofa. Likewise with Nest or Hive and heating. They can also “protect” the home when we’re not there by making sure that the lights are on when it gets dark. Or, for example, by making sure that the heating keeps everything to a certain temperature. Uber helps us to get somewhere we need or want to go quickly and efficiently, and we don’t even have to worry about having the cash in our pockets.

They all contribute in some way to our daily well-being, and we are seemingly prepared to sacrifice (trade/compromise) something for that contribution – our personal data.

Introducing “grudgetech”

By contrast, what contribution will handheld or wearable insurtech make to our daily lives?

Trust issues aside, can the current wave of insurtech really compete with the kind of convenience that all of the other tech we’ve discussed here brings?

Assuming that the answer to that is “no”, can insurtech instead magically transform a grudge purchase into something convenience tech delivers? I’m afraid that’s a “no” too. “Grudgetech” will always have to deal with the “grudge”! (More on that in part 2)

Does that mean that insurtech is dead before it even starts? Absolutely not.

However, what it does mean is that for such a nascent technology, ironically the framework within which insurtech can be developed with a reasonable chance of mass adoption is already quite clearly defined.

In part 2, I take a look at why some insurtech is already gaining mass acceptance, grudgetech that we all use daily and how they can help future insurtech pioneers …

Continue to part 2

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* In this instance, I’m talking about insurtech as retail, customer-facing apps and services, not the invisible AI or machine-learning that might sit behind insurers’ pricing or operational systems.

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