Insurance carriers’ fascination with disruptive technologies is similar to the telecommunications industry a decade ago, says Haden Kirkpatrick, director of research and innovation at Esurance. Only mobile carriers never made a move on big data, machine learning and IoT tools.

Before long Apple and Google had figured out how to make customer experiences smarter and monetized it. Insurers are now in danger of falling prey to the same fate thanks to usage-based insurance providers like Metromile and Kirkpatrick’s own company.

“Esurance is in the process of taking your customers right now,” he told a room of insurance professionals at INN’s Inaugural DigIn Conference. “We are taking the icing off the top with better analytics and handling your customers’ small claims.”

Esurance, an online seller of auto and homeowner's insurance, deploys products that create consumer value, Kirkpatrick says. Connected technologies that can turn off a teenagers smartphone when they operate a vehicle or tell a driver where and when to buy gas based on location and predicted spikes in price. 

“Whether you know it or not, we are platform services companies evaluating and pricing risk,” he says. “It’s not about false lines of business we create because that’s not how consumers view insurance. The goal is not to end up like mobile phone carriers or the taxi business, which never saw Uber coming.”

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