CNA partners with Hartford Steam Boiler on IoT

CNA has tapped Hartford Steam Boiler's Internet of Things technology for a program targeted at small- to mid-sized commercial clients.

HSB IoT Technology comprises a suite of hardware and software to help identify potential water leaks, temperature extremes, and power outages so that customers can correct the issues and avoid loss.

CNA is not an existing client of HSB, or its parent Munich Re. But "we have maintained dialogue with CNA over the years" on IoT, says Anthony Trivella, EVP of HSB's Treaty division.

"We get together with industry colleagues regularly to keep each other updated on what's going on. We had actually had the first discussion [with CNA] probably two years ago around IoT, that piqued their interest, they made a couple trips to Hartford, and we made a couple trips to Chicago" to demo and refine the program, he adds.

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“This remote sensor monitoring program will be specifically tailored for small and mid-sized commercial clients, providing easy access to real-time data. We are excited to collaborate with HSB to implement this innovative property service offering," Kevin Leidwinger, president and chief operating officer, CNA Commercial added in a statement. (CNA declined to comment further.)

HSB was an early mover in adopting IoT for insurance. Branded Sensor Systems, the devices themselves have evolved over the years through internal development and acquisition and partnerships with other firms.

Last year, HSB released new sensors that use LoRaWAN (low-power wide-area networks) wireless transmitters, with extended range thanks to cellular -- rather than Wi-Fi -- technology. They make it easier to connect dispersed equipment and facilities through building walls and floors. The insurer has developed algorithms to analyze temperature, water accumulation, power outages, motion and humidity data, accounting for regular business uses. But it takes more than just hardware to make a good program, Trivella says.

"The data we've been able to gather is tremendous. We have something like 70 proprietery algorithms," he explains.

"But there's a million problems to solve when it comes to a successful IoT program, we just don't have a bunch of sensors and mail them out and say 'good luck!' he continues. "We start with a complete understanding of theSME portfolio, which classes are causing the biggest losses, what are those classes' major perils, and which locations within those classes can benefit from this."

HSB's other clients for the IoT program include Chubb and Church Mutual.

"We're partnering with dozens of companies specific to IoT," Trivella says. "Some of them we have existing [insurance] business with, in other cases we look at the IoT as another product. The progressive companies in our business see IoT and tech in general as having the ability to shift their business models going forward."

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