Nationwide expands digital offerings with launch of enhanced Alexa skill

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Nationwide added this week an enhanced SmartRide application to the list of services it offers through Amazon’s Echo device. The new “skill,” as Amazon voice-assistant applications are called, allow the insurer’s customers to tap into the carrier’s safe-driving, usage-based insurance program to get data about their personal driving habits.

The new service is just the latest digital offering from the carrier. Over the last year, Nationwide has partnered with insurtech Sure to sell renters’ insurance through mobile devices, collaborated on a telematics initiative with automaker General Motors and launched an AI chatbot for password resets that the company plans to further develop to include multiple business functions, it says.

Nationwide’s end goal is to bundle all its digital offerings into a broadly integrated service, according to Sam Rassekh, VP of enterprise digital optimization.

With SmartRide, Nationwide expects customers to interact with Alexa for driving statistics more frequently than they would with an app or online dashboard due to the Amazon device’s ease of access.

Also see: 5 insurers you can find on connected home voice assistants

“It’s much easier to walk into the house and say ‘how did I do today’ than logging on,” said Rassekh, adding that simpler interaction between insurers and their customers is essential to creating relationships with policyholders, who today mostly think of their carrier in the moment, not repeatedly like they would Amazon.

“Nationwide recognizes that the digital ecosystem is bigger than a website or mobile app,” said Rassekh. “Our partnerships lead to joint learning [across industries] and solutions that in a pre-digital environment were not feasible,” he says.

In the near future, Nationwide intends to take advantage of an integrated set of digital offerings. For instance, as its client’s houses and cars become more interconnected, Nationwide wants to use sensors in homes and vehicles to prevent claims and mitigate risk. Some potential use cases include: suggesting travel routes with the most road-side service facilities on long trips, alerting drivers when a brake light needs fixing and simultaneously informing policyholders of potential infrastructure damage at home.

“Foundationally, Nationwide is positioning itself to be competitive in a digital operating world,” said Rassekh. “[Yet] it shifts so fast, we may need to pivot on what we’re doing this year. So we invest in underlying digital capabilities and create function where we can shift quickly along with it.”

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