By: Andrew Lo On: January 26, 2018 In: Artificial Intelligence Comments: 0

At CES 2018 in Las Vegas, smart speaker adoption and smart technology integration were the talk of the town. Google, a company notorious for having minimal presence at CES, returned to the conference with a stand-alone booth exhibiting their smart speaker system Google Home.

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Google Home is in direct competition with Amazon Echo, which currently holds the majority of the market share for smart speakers that power virtual assistants. With additional competition from Apple on the horizon, Google’s presence at CES suggests an increased interest not just in the consumer level, but also in tapping into the sheer amount of developer and engineer talent that attends these conferences.

It also indicates that smart speakers are a smart move for many businesses and industries, and insurance is not immune. As popularity grows, insurtech companies are embracing smart speaker technology and leveraging the technology to provide their customers with innovative, in-home experiences.

Smart Speakers Offer a New Opportunity for InsurTech Companies

Amazon Echo and Google Home have paved the way for smart speakers at the consumer level, and with it introduced a new way for insurtech companies to engage with their customers. With prices becoming increasingly affordable – both Amazon and Google introduced smaller versions, the Echo Dot and Google Home Mini, for as little as $39.99 this holiday season – more and more of these smart solutions are making their ways into living rooms across the country.

A recent report from Canalys found that smart speakers are now the fastest growing consumer technology. Popularity is soaring past AR, VR and wearable technology, with smart speaker shipments expected to top 56 million units in 2018.

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While the “others” category was small in 2016 and 2017, it is expected to rapidly grow for 2018. Both Amazon and Google are allowing other speaker manufacturers to embed their voice recognition technology and associated services. Cortana by Microsoft will probably be implemented into other speakers in 2018. HomePod with Siri by Apple will imminently launch early 2018. Bixby, voice assistant by Samsung, will show up in all their smartphones, home audio equipment and their kitchen appliances.

Smart Speakers

Since Google Home launched in Canada in July 2017 with the Amazon Echo following in December 2017, insurance companies have been eager to embrace this technology and revolutionize their relationships with their customers. Already we’re seeing innovations such as:

· Aviva Canada – Aviva leveraged Amazon Echo’s technology to help consumers find answers to common insurance questions and get insurance quotes by simply engaging verbally with Alexa. If a person had questions about comprehensive coverage, for example, all they have to do is ask, “Alexa, what does comprehensive car insurance cover?”

· Manulife – Manulife is using the Amazon Echo to help customers understand what is left on their health benefits. Need new glasses, but not sure how much coverage you have? Simply ask, “Alexa, ask Manulife Benefits how much do I have left for glasses?”

· Kanetix.ca and InsuranceHotline.com – Both of these Kanetix LTD insurance comparison websites made Google Assistant actions to allow customers to easily compare car insurance quotes. We’re excited about this technology and what it means for our customers. Drivers can request a quote by saying, “Hey Google, ask Kanetix.ca for a car insurance quote.”

· RateSupermarket.ca – We extended this functionality to our mortgage comparison website as well using Google Assistant as a tool to help homebuyers find the best mortgage rate in any province. Simply say, “Hey Google, ask RateSupermarket.ca for the best mortgage rate in Ontario.”

Smart Speakers Are Spurring Smart Sales

Smart speakers not only provide a convenient way for consumers to access information, but the ease of this technology is breaking down barriers to other smart technology. Since these speakers can connect with other smart devices and IoT (Internet of Things), consumers are connecting the speakers to smart appliances, smart entertainment, smart plugs and so on. They’re using Amazon Echo and Google Home to turn on the lights, change the channel and find their favourite shows on Netflix.

As things become more connected, InsurTech companies can begin to imagine the plethora of opportunities that this technology can create.

Recent data from ComScore and Statista shows the likeliness of IoT ownership for smart speaker households:

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As you can see, smart speakers provide an access point for consumers that encourages them to navigate towards other smart devices.

What Does This All Mean for InsurTech Companies?

There’s no doubt about it: Amazon and Google are making smart speaker assistants and smart technology a must-have in the home.

This is an opportunity that insurance providers can’t ignore. Having this technology in the home gives insurance providers the power to develop smarter, more convenient ways to service their customers leveraging technology they already use.

If the forecasts are correct and smart speakers fire up IoT adoption in the home, insurance providers will have access to data and technology that can inspire the creation of better, more innovative products, helping customers to mitigate risks – thus reducing claims – and contributing to safer households.

If you haven’t started thinking about how this technology can assist your customers, now’s the time to start.

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