Digital giant Amazon weighs on the minds of many companies, but for insurers, the recent news has been even more acute: The company has been heavily rumored to be interested in selling insurance in some form, using its Echo smart device ecosystem, powered by the voice assistant Alexa, as an "in" with customers. That interest was signal-boosted in the big way when it began the process of registering as an insurance agent in India. Shortly afterward,, in a minor surprise, the company recently launched an array of new Alexa-enabled devices, some of which provide angles of interaction that should be of interest to insurance companies. Or, of course -- provide the right kind of insight to launch an Amazon insurance company.
Perhaps the most intriguing of Amazon's releases thanks to the uptick in usage-based insurance programs across the industry, the Echo Auto is being marketed as a voice-powered co-pilot for busy drivers. However, it does have navigation capabilities, and transmits data using a paired smartphone -- meaning its utility for usage-based insurance is clear, if not being leveraged right at launch.
Amazon Smart Plug
This accessory links any plugged-in item to Alexa, allowing users to turn it on and off with a voice. It's the kind of smarthome device that has been hinted at leading Amazon down the insurance path.
It's a bit of a curveball, but why require a third device to put a very common appliance on Alexa? The AmazonBasics Microwave connects to an Echo speaker or other Echo device to enable Alexa interaction. For insurers, usage data from this kind of item can be of use in anticipating claims; the same data can also power appliance breakdown coverage. Next up: Amazon water heaters or shower heads to detect leaks? We'll see.