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Life Health > Health Insurance

What is the “Internet of Things” and what it means for the insurance industry

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Do you remember the saying “there’s an app for that”? It was widely used with the proliferation of apps for anything and everything when the Apple iPhone came out. Well, that was almost 8 years ago (time flies!) and in 2015, everything is going to be about the “Internet of Things” or IoT.

But, what in the world is IoT? It basically means the interconnectivity of various electronic devices, or in laymen terms: everything and anything can connect to the Internet.

Your jewelry, for example, can track your pulse or your heartbeat, can be a pedometer, can track your sleeping patterns, movement, etc., like for example, the UP by Jawbone bracelet.

Or you can remotely control the temperature of your house via an app by installing a specific device, and there are plenty out there: Nest, Aprilaire, Smarthome and even Honeywell has these devices. It’s like having Rosie from The Jetsons in your home!

Another example: The first time I heard about “connected cars” that were also WiFi hotspots was back in 2008, when I was covering the car industry. Apparently, South Korea already had cars that were completely connected to the Internet, but they couldn’t bring those over to the U.S. because the Internet infrastructure couldn’t support them (or for some other reasons that I can’t recall right now).

But the “vision” and the catchy phrase the “Internet of Things”/IoT came about last year … and you’ll keep hearing this phrase, especially this week with Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2015 in full swing in Las Vegas.

“It’s not science fiction anymore — it is science fact,” Samsung Electronics CEO BK Yoon said during his keynote at the CES, reported the USA Today on Monday. “I would argue that the age of the Internet of Things has already started,” he said.

“The ‘Internet of Things’ is the global network of interconnected devices working online (through the ‘cloud’) to monitor and manage our lives. This includes everything from Smartphones to wearable tech to apps that control the thermostat in your house,” Nic West, director at, explained to LifeHealthPro via email.

While every media outlet in the world writing about the new technology and devices that are being unveiled at CES, no object is off-limits. Everything can be connected seamlessly to the Internet. But how will this affect the insurance industry?

“The applications for our industry are huge — wearable tech could directly impact a consumer’s insurance prices. If the Internet of Things expanded to include private monitoring for individual life insurance clients, theoretically, a consumer could buy life insurance from a carrier, engage in healthy behavior as monitored by wearable tech devices, and have that information automatically sent to the carrier — and experience customized pricing as a result. If the Internet of Things expanded beyond a B2C relationship, one person could theoretically allow an automated flow of their current health statistics to everyone from their doctor to other health professionals, like a nutritionist or trainer, as well as health and life insurance providers,” West added.

IoT also means that big data, and its analysis, will create new ways to automate day-to-day operations and improve efficiency. There are companies and startups that have already created tools and apps to gather and analyze data. Some of them go from helping business owners and employees to better handle and understand their benefits, to health care monitoring, to even tracking your driving habits, routes and times to help lower insurance prices.

Some of these devices could potentially also help to lower risk or, at least, make noise when you’ve braked too hard or when you haven’t taken a 15 minute break from your desk…

The future is bright and opportunity is springing up everywhere; we’ve yet to see how IoT will continue to disrupt the insurance industry.

See also:

The echo of disruption

How advisors can be the next disruptors

Genomes, nanobots and wearable tech: What’s next will change insurance forever


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