USAA focusing on value-adds in innovation efforts

A desire to add valued services that increase customers’ trust in the organization is fueling the innovation culture at USAA.

That’s according to Jon-Michael Kowall, assistant vice president of product development and innovation for the company, who spoke with Digital Insurance. USAA wants to evolve to offer consumer benefits in addition to its core insurance and financial products.

On the home insurance side, USAA’s product development reflects this focus and has delivered some tangible efforts to help policyholders, Kowall says. He cited the company’s recent foray into auto purchasing, with an app that helps members find cars, not just finance and insure what they select. USAA also recently partnered with Honeywell to equip 6,000 homes with Lyric water sensors, and is using that customer data to analyze members’ water use.

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“We want to keep members safe by shifting the business model from repair and replace to preventing and safety,” Kowall says.

Overall, Kowall says USAA is intrigued by the maturity of technology and sees no limit to future innovations. For example, the insurer is looking in the direction of connecting technology to a voice control system to bridge a new gap in client interaction. He always tries out new things himself before deployment, he says

“How can I be on the team of innovation and not test things out personally?” he asks. “That is how I get my inspiration. This industry has so much opportunity to innovate, and we will provide that because we have to be the best simply because of the people we serve.”

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