Home, Sweet (Automated) Home

home automation

I’m convinced that insurance will continue to evolve.

In 2008, I was part of the team that launched the American Family Insurance Teen Safe Driver Program. A small device allows parents to review risky driving behaviors and coach their kids, at exactly the right time, to reduce the habits that lead to accidents. I spoke with parents who were adamant that this program, and American Family, had played a crucial role in protecting their son or daughter’s life.

This year I will help manage the home automation accelerator in partnership with Microsoft. This exciting partnership was announced last week.

Home automation holds even greater potential to positively impact our customers and change the dynamics of insurance. Connected smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can alert owners of a potential problem before the situation gets out of hand. Water sensors can detect a leak before the entire basement is flooded. Controlling lighting on a schedule or from your phone can help with energy savings in addition to providing added security when on vacation. Connected thermostats can save energy and potentially provide advance warnings before a pipe bursts. Sensors can detect motion, clogged dryer vents, moisture under the roof and prevent all sorts of problems.

In the past, insurers like American Family could only react after the fact — and write a check to cover the damages.

The data being created from the Internet of Things holds incredible potential for those who are able to decipher the signal from the noise — and do so responsibly.

Anonymous data from the Nest Protect (a smoke and carbon monoxide detector) is showing that carbon monoxide leaks are more frequent than previously believed. This data could help experts better understand why and how leaks occur. As more data is collected, more insights are possible. Consumers will expect more transparency from insurers, and companies that provide a clear value in exchange for data will win in the long run.

I first heard about this powerful idea of proactive protection from Vice President Telisa Yancy and my peers in Marketing. Home automation can make this concept a reality. By providing customers with technology upfront, we can prevent some accidents from ever occurring.

For the 10 percent of our customers who experience a claim each year, we’ll still be there for them as we always have. But for the 90 percent who don’t have a claim, we’ll have the opportunity to assist in the development of technologies that can provide them with safety, home accident prevention and convenience. At the same time, we'll improve our company’s value proposition.

Today, most people try not to think about insurance. It’s what is called a low-engagement category. Insurance has the potential to be something different. Something more.

While the home automation market is still in its early stages, I believe American Family is positioning itself to be in the driver’s seat.

Editor's note: Startups can apply now for the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in partnership with American Family Insurance. Ready more about on our website

by Ryan Rist on Wed, Jun 25 2014 12:58 pm
Posted by Ryan Rist on Wed, Jun 25 2014 12:58 pmRyan Rist is a data and technology catalyst


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