Manulife to roll out Amazon Echo skill in December

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An attendee holds an "Echo" device during the U.K. launch event for the Amazon.com Inc. Echo voice-controlled home assistant speaker in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. The Seattle-based company today announced that its Echo product line will be available in the U.K. and Germany starting in the fall, the first time the gadget will be available outside the U.S. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Canadian insurer Manulife has announced the launch of a new skill on Amazon Echo.

Starting next month, Manulife policyholders will leverage the home assistant’s voice recognition technology “Alexa” to track vision, dental and health benefits provided by the carrier. Manulife’s innovation labs LOFT and RED, in conjunction with Amazon, developed the new application.

“The days of expecting plan members to fill out forms or wait for a response on a quick balance check are over. Smartphones and other technologies have changed the way people do things,” said Donna Carbell, SVP of group benefits at Manulife, in a statement. “[Customers] want to interact when and where it's convenient for them, so we've made it easier than ever for plan members to get the most out of their group benefits plan.”

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With the move, Manulife joins a slew of insurers in 2017 to adopt Amazon Echo as an additional channel to interact with customers. Farmers Insurance, Nationwide, Allstate and Liberty Mutual are just some of the notable carriers to debut Alexa skills this year.

“Conversational artificial intelligence is becoming the fastest growing technology interaction method,” said Jim Stirtzinger, director of RED Lab. "If life is a juggling act, we've just given plan members an extra set of hands."

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