By: Andrew Lo On: January 22, 2018 In: Insurance Comments: 0

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is famous for unveiling the latest research and innovation in technology, and CES 2018 did not disappoint. Companies are eager to reveal what’s new in artificial intelligence (AI), driverless vehicles, consumer electronics and more, and the conference always offers an opportunity to get a taste of what’s to come.

Several professionals, myself included, had the opportunity to meet with Steve Koenig, Senior Director, Research, and Lesley Rohrbaugh, Senior Manager Research of the Consumer Technology Association, prior to the show’s opening for a look at the latest consumer technology trends for 2018 and beyond.

In my opinion, many of these trends have the potential to disrupt and revolutionize the way insurance companies do business and engage with our customers.


The Top 3 Emerging Trends Disrupting the Insurance Industry

Of all the segments in technology that are currently trending for 2018, I believe these three have the power to disrupt the insurance industry: Technologies in the Market, Emerging Technology and Ingredient Technologies.

Technologies In the Market

Numerous technologies hit the market in the last 12 months that will continue to accelerate going forward, especially in the realm of AI.

  • Realism Redefined – Several insurance providers have partnered with technology companies to implement and integrate chat bots into their websites. This is evidence that the insurance industry sees the value in machine learning and thinks that customers are willing to build trust with machines as an extension of the buying experience.
  • Augmented Reality – As this type of human-machine interaction rapidly becomes more familiar, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will usher in the next wave. A recent Kanetix.ca study revealed that consumers are accepting of these innovations, having reported comfort with driving experiences that use AR to display information on the windshield. With faster smartphones and developer’s kits for AR, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be able to point your smartphone at a car or home to get insurance quotes, or to submit an insurance claim—all with the necessary information overlaid on top of the image.


Here’s an example: Facebook Spaces uses the Oculus VR headset to allow you to meet with your customer in a virtual reality that has a social and friendly atmosphere.


Emerging Technologies

Smart cities and digital therapeutics are two emerging technologies that have not fully hit the mainstream at this time, but you can expect to start hearing more about them.

  • Smart Cities – Mobility, congestion, pollution, public safety and even economics: these were the catalysts for the development Smart cities. Smart cities are popping up across the U.S. and in the European Union. Closer to home, Google has partnered with Sidewalk Labs to build what they’re calling a smart living area in Toronto—a fully connected “city.” Smart cities will have a great impact on insurance, especially as the lines between digital and reality blur. Cyber security, liability for when systems fail, and the repair costs of damaged, sophisticated computer systems must be considered. Large insurers have participated in smart city initiatives around the world, and 2018 saw a summit at CES dedicated to smart cities. Smart city technology is already rapidly gain momentum in 2018.
  • Digital Therapeutics – How about using technology to make our lives better? Digital therapeutics offer another opportunity for insurers to leverage technology, improve thee products and services they offer their customers and reduce insurance claims. By harnessing the power of technology to impact health, digital therapeutics have the potential to enhance medical practices, encourage positive behaviour changes (e.g. fitness monitoring & gamification) and even act as a stand-alone therapy. Imagine an app that can help you find better medicines, prevent illness, or access a doctor’s advice virtually anytime from anywhere. Can you imagine how this will surely reduce insurance claims?

Ingredient Technologies

Ingredient technologies refer to the physical and digital infrastructure required to materially advance technology. It is especially prevalent in driverless cars and AI. Two areas in particular have disruptive implications for car insurance and risk avoidance based underwriting.

  • 5G Networks – With promises of higher speeds, greater capacity and low latency, major telecommunications providers began testing 5G Networks last year. In 2018, the 5G radio will be developed for use as the main communications chip for devices like smartphones and other smart technologies. 5G is a table stakes requirement for driverless cars and vehicle-to-vehicle communications. It is also required to transmit data collected to be used to make AI work.


  • AI, Deep Learning & Neural Networks –5G will enable billions of devices to be connected and gathering data at all times. Data is power. It allows these smart systems to learn to do things we haven’t—or can’t—program them to do. Deep machine learning is one capability expected to grow in 2018 and beyond. It allows software to learn from data. The deeper the learning, the faster the software must run. Already, companies like Nvidia are translating the software into hardware neural networks. As AI is further integrated into everything we do, it will impact society exponentially. It’s not all scary. With more data, insurance companies can better predict risk, thus improving the underwriting process and providing smarter products to customers. While we’ve looked at three sales channels up until this point (retail, online and mobile), CTA analysts are calling AI-powered smart speakers the fourth channel. Why not ask Google Home for an insurance quote on Kanetix.ca to see for yourself? AI is allowing people to build relationships with machines.


*Shown: Jensen Huang, President & CEO, Nividia

In conclusion, 2018 is shaping up to be another year of disruption in the insurance industry. Even the most personal consumer tech has the potential to become an InsurTech, giving us the power and opportunity to change how we purchase and use insurance going forward.

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