Debuts new “Insurance Advisor” skill
Liberty Mutual has joined forces with Amazon to provide the online internet company’s first Amazon Alexa skill for insurance. For those unfamiliar with Alexa, it is the new technology powering Amazon’s Echo service, a hands-free device offering capabilities or “skills” such as playing music, answering questions, or controlling the lights or thermostat by simple voice commands.
As for Liberty Mutual’s part in this new venture, the insurer and its subsidiary Safeco, have signed on to be the first insurance company to offer an “Insurance Advisor” skill for the platform.
The new skill employs the use of voice to answer a consumer’s questions regarding everyday insurance concerns from offering tips to providing quotes.
“We are redefining how auto and homeowners shop for and learn about insurance,” said James MacPhee, executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Consumer Markets, for Liberty Mutual Insurance. “Alexa presents a unique opportunity to have a vocal presence in consumers’ homes, providing additional value and ease, and allowing a new connection to be made between insurance providers and consumers.”
What does this mean for independent agents?
While at first blush, it might look like both Liberty Mutual and Safeco are trying to bypass agent’s with this new skill, that does not appear to be 100 percent the case. As a direct writer, Liberty Mutual’s skill, which launches later this Autumn, will be to sell insurance directly to consumers by informing them about the variety of products it offers. This will include offering:
- The ability to obtain an auto insurance estimate by interacting with the Liberty Mutual “GuestimatorTM” tool via voice;
- Offering advice on timely and seasonal auto and home insurance worries and issues and advising consumer to access the company’s new MasterThisTM online resource which helps consumers prepare for situations in their lives like from roadside emergencies to planning a move.
Safeco’s “Insurance Advisor” Skill, however, will direct consumers to an independent agent
Alternatively, Safeco’s new skill will aim to help consumers by offering advice and options which include directly them to a local, independent agent. The Safeco “Insurance Advisor” skill, which is now oeprational, will aim to help insurance consumers by offering the following services:
- Access an “insurance glossary” where they can learn about and familiarize themselves with insurance terminology
- Find a nearby agent so they can get a quote on insurance
- Contact an independent insurance agent to get answers to more difficult questions they might have about insurance
The growing importance of voice
According to a report Liberty Mutual cites from Gartner, Inc., predictions are now that by 2018 approximately 30 percent of society’s interactions with technology will occur through “conversations” with smart machines.
Google also commissioned its own study, aptly entitle “The Mobile Voice Study” which only further supports the growing importance of voice on the internet. Google found that on a daily basis, more than 55% of all teens and 41% of all adults use voice search more than once a day.
As for Amazon, it is capitalizing on this emerging technology with Alexa. The cloud-based virtual assistant already boasts more than 2000 skills which can then be accessed on a variety of Amazon’s smart devices, including Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Tap, and other Alexa-enabled devices.