Smart-Technology set to change the insurance industry

Smart-Technology set to change the insurance industry

Excerpted article was written by Paul Mitchell | Stuff

The way your insurance premiums are calculated could be in for a massive overhaul that relies on big brother technology.

Flocks of driverless cars and fridges that report on their owners’ eating habits are some of the innovations a Massey University academic is predicting will affect premiums in the near future.

Insurance researcher Dr Michael Naylor is predicting “smart” technology will drastically shake up the insurance industry by 2030.

Every device and appliance in our daily lives is becoming “smart”, embedded with data-collecting sensors and connected to the internet.

This allows your devices to communicate – an electronic key-fob might unlock your car door when you get close and cue-up your favourite music playlist from your phone or ipod.

The flip side is all those devices will be gathering data on their users, and companies are going to want this for their benefit.

That’s where Naylor sees the insurance industry heading.

“Through the connection of objects to the internet, it will be possible for insurers to know how healthy the food in your fridge is or how often you exercise. Imagine how accurately they can then predict your health risk for insurance purposes,” he said.

“You have to agree to share this information, of course, but if you do and you are healthy, you should see your insurance premiums plummet. But if you don’t agree to it, you’ll be classed as high-risk and your premiums will be very expensive.”

Consumer Institute spokeswoman Jessica Wilson said under the Consumer Guarantees Act and current New Zealand insurance industry guidelines, insurers had a responsibility to deal fairly and reasonably with customers. If they were deemed high-risk unless agreeing to share data, consumers would be able to challenge the decision.

But there was a need to have a closer look into standards and regulations in this area, Wilson said.

“Consumers will need assurance that if insurers are collecting that data, it’s robust and accurate and they are being transparent about how the data will inform their risk calculations.”

The car insurance industry is likely to be the first to see major changes, Naylor said. He predicted car insurance premiums will fall as much as 90 per cent by 2030.

Self-driving cars are expected to reduce crashes. And developments in voice and facial recognition may mean future cars won’t start unless they know you – making them harder to steal.

Research, by Volo, found nine out of ten crashes are caused by drivers making mistakes or getting distracted. This will be avoided by driverless cars.

“You don’t even need 100 per cent self-driving cars. Just with adaptive cruise control and automatic parking the crash rates drop by half.

“That’s not the future, that’s happening right now. Most newer cars have those features already.”

Insurers need to adapt to the new industry all these changes will bring or they will go under, Naylor said.

Insurance Council of New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said insurers were aware there were challenges. Some firms had set up laboratories specifically to consider how new technology could be used more effectively and what changes would need to be made, he said.

“It depends on how adept they are at changing to meet the demands that new technology brings. But this is not an industry that is a dinosaur asleep at the wheel.”

Facebook blocks insurance app

Facebook blocks insurance app

By James Titcomb | The Telegraph

Facebook has blocked Admiral from scouring social media profiles to set car insurance prices, forcing the company into a hasty climbdown.

The internet giant said that Admiral’s contravened Facebook’s privacy policies, preventing the launch of the technology just hours before it was due to be launched.

Admiral had planned to use Facebook status updates and “likes” to build up a “risk assessment” of first-time motorists, offering insurance discounts to those likely to be safer drivers.

We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibilityFacebook spokesman

As privacy campaigners criticised the move as “intrusive”, the company dropped the plans and said the Firstcarquote app would have “reduced functionality”. Facebook vowed to protect its users’ privacy and said that Admiral’s app would now only be able to use the social network as a way of signing users in.

The move represents a setback for the insurance industry, which hopes to gather growing amounts of data about its customers to set prices in future.

“Protecting the privacy of the people on Facebook is of utmost importance to us. We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility,” a spokesman for the social network said.

“We have made sure anyone using this app is protected by our guidelines and that no Facebook user data is used to assess their eligibility. Facebook accounts will only be used for login and verification purposes.

“Our understanding is that Admiral will then ask users who sign up to answer questions which will be used to assess their eligibility.”

While Admiral’s app would only have used information that users had consented to share, Facebook’s policies bar companies from making “decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on loan”.

Privacy campaigners had attacked Admiral, warning that its plans could be a step towards widespread discrimination.

“We need to think about the wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions that affect us financially or otherwise based on what we have said on social media,” said Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group.

“Such intrusive practices could see decisions being made against particular groups based on biases about race, gender, religion or sexuality – or because their posts in some way mark them as unconventional. Ultimately, this could change how people use social media, encouraging self-censorship in anticipation of future decisions.”

Edited for ILSTV.

Should Every Ad Agency Offer Flex Hours

Regus Canada survey shows working from home is the must-have perk


Flexible working is hugely important for Canadian employees, a survey from Regus Canada has found. Sixty-one percent of respondents would turn down a job that offered no flexibility, and 39% would have stayed longer at a position if flexible working had been an option.

“Managers who allow employees to set their own work hours show a level of respect and trust in one’s work,” says Wayne Berger, vice-president of Regus Canada. “Perhaps the employee knows they get their best work done earlier or later in the day. Success should be about measuring an employee’s output and results, not time spent in the office.”

Respondents found working from home brought all kinds of benefits, such as being able to bike to work, having a mid-day nap, and having more time to spend with friends and family because of shorter commutes. Respondents also believe flexible working leads to better health (78%), more frequent visits to the gym (69%), and higher levels of mindfulness (66%).

“I travel a lot for work and our headquarters is [in] downtown Toronto,” Berger says. “However, when it makes sense for me and my team, I will work closer to home from our Oakville location. This means I get 1.5 hours back in my day to go for a run and spend time with my family. I meet others in our Oakville office who do the same when they don’t need to be in their downtown office. Working from a flexible workspace gives them more time in their day to get work done and do the things that matter to them most.”

To make flexible working feasible, employers should begin by setting out parameters, says Berger. “Make sure there is a mutual understanding about how it’s all going to work — what are the expectations and deliverables and how often should [staff] touch base?”

It’s important to check in with employees regularly to build trust, though as teams become accustomed to flexible working, daily updates can turn into weekly updates, says Berger, though he still recommends face-to-face meetings every so often, whether at the office or over lunch, to maintain productivity and enthusiasm.

Employers should also tap into technology such as Skype, texting and FaceTime to keep connected with staff working remotely, and to help staff develop good work spaces outside the office, whether at their homes or at a business centre. “The coffee shop is not a good place to work during the flex time, and neither is the couch in front of the TV in your PJs,” he says.

This article originally appeared on Benefits Canada.

Off-Duty Conduct: What Can Happen When Employees Go Viral

By Michael Horvat | Mondaq

It seems that a week cannot go by without the news reporting on a seemingly private or embarrassing event that has gone public. With the abundance of cameras in our daily public lives and the instantaneous sharing of information, our actions and statements can be easily broadcast as they happen. Our new “public” life is ever more on display. Some recent examples include being caught on video engaging in public mischief (such as throwing a beer can onto a sports field on national television) or engaging in a post on Twitter or other social media sites with “friends” that is resent or retweeted for everyone to see. How employers and their employees cope and navigate the greying line between an individual’s private life and their connection to the workplace is likely to become of greater issue, especially among a new generation of employees who have grown up in a world of social media and use it as their primary vehicle of communication.

As employees become more aware that their employers are noticing what happens away from the office or shop floor, employers must equally understand that there are still limits as to what behaviour they can regulate when the work day has ended.

In the past, there used to be a clearer time and distance aspect with respect to off-duty conduct. If it happened away from the workplace and outside of work hours, it was presumed to be the employee’s own business and, strictly speaking, of no concern to the boss, unless it tied the company brand and employee together in a bad light.

The law regarding an employer’s response to off-duty employment conduct has evolved as the web of social connections between employer and employee ties them together outside of regular business hours. Bullying behaviour in the office has to be addressed, so why not address bullying that occurs on Facebook or Twitter. Human Resources departments now have no choice but to take notice and act, whether it is to address potential harm that may arise from bad publicity or to address concerns by co-workers due to comments or actions made by colleagues in “private” internet communications that have become public. (Anecdotal evidence counters the notion that anything on the internet or that is electronically distributed is or can remain private.)

Employees must understand that companies will act to address off-duty conduct when that conduct could detrimentally affect their image, brand or business, or otherwise impact the well-being of coworkers. In some cases, employers will have no choice but to engage in an investigation into such behaviour and discipline or terminate the employee if misconduct is found to have occurred. For example, under recent changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Ontario companies are now mandated to have policies in place regarding the reporting and investigation of harassment and sexual harassment complaints. The application of such policies extends beyond the workplace. Off-duty comments made on Facebook towards a co-worker can create a hostile work environment as easily as comments made in the lunchroom.

Consequently, it is recommended that all employers have policies which provide direction to their employees about their use of social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). These policies should caution their employees about the use of technology both at the workplace (when using company email and computers) and away from the workplace. The policies should also refer to the company’s harassment policies and code of conduct rules and advise employees that offduty conduct can also be subject to investigation and discipline (including discharge). Finally, employees must be trained in the application of these policies and the company must consistently review and enforce their application.

However, employers must be prepared to distinguish between actions which create a public relations issue (our employee has embarrassed the company) that require only a public relations response, with a human resources issue (our employee has breached policy and caused damage to the company’s goodwill or to another employee) which could require investigation and discipline.

Not every case where harm is caused to the company’s brand or reputation will require a human resources response and the harm or potential harm caused will only be one factor among many when determining if investigation and discipline will be appropriate in the circumstances. Other factors will include the degree of responsibility exercised or public position held by the employee, and whether the misconduct will hinder that employee’s ability to perform his/her job and/or  their ability to work with co-workers and their co-workers corresponding willingness to continue to work with them.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Facebook Tells Judge It Takes Terroristic Threats Seriously

Facebook Tells Judge It Takes Terroristic Threats Seriously

(Reuters) – Lawyers for Facebook on Tuesday sought to assure a U.S. judge overseeing lawsuits by victims of militant attacks in the Middle East that it took a “zero tolerance” approach to any communications that may promote terrorist threats or activity.

The comments came after U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn on Thursday accused Facebook’s law firm of insulting the court by sending just a junior attorney to address him in lawsuits implicating violent attacks on Israelis.

The judge on Tuesday apologized to the extent his comments may have sounded like criticism of the first-year associate but said he was concerned about whether Facebook’s lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis were taking the matter seriously.
“We heard you loud and clear, and we apologize,” Craig Primis, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, told Garaufis.

As a sign of the level of attention the judge’s critique drew at Facebook, the company flew Paul Grewal, a deputy general counsel, from California to New York to appear before him for what was otherwise a procedural hearing.

Grewal told the judge that Facebook had people working around-the-clock trying to pro-actively monitor and remove posts on its website that glorify or incite violence through terrorism.

“Facebook has a very serious interest in keeping terrorism content off,” he said.

The hearing came in a pair of related lawsuits, including one filed last year by 20,000 Israelis seeking an order requiring Facebook to stop allowing militant groups like Hamas from using its platform to incite attacks against Israeli citizens.

The company also faces claims by victims of such attacks who are seeking to hold Facebook accountable under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act for providing support to militant groups.
At a hearing last week, Garaufis criticized Facebook’s lawyer’s decision to send only a first-year associate to appear before him as “outrageous and irresponsible and insulting” given the issues at stake.

He questioned whether Facebook FB 0.42% had a “moral obligation” to help prevent communications by people who express interest in carrying out violent attacks, and asked whether it should be “working this out as opposed to litigating it.”

At Tuesday’s hearing, Primis assured the judge that Facebook took a “zero tolerance” approach to such communications.

He said Facebook would be seeking the dismissal of both lawsuits on grounds including that as a communications platform, it had immunity from being sued under federal law. Oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 19.

Study: Social Media Usage during New-Vehicle Shopping Process Increases

Study: Social Media Usage during New-Vehicle Shopping Process Increases

The just-published J.D. Power 2016 New Autoshopper StudySM finds that consumers who use the internet during their new-vehicle shopping process are increasingly turning to social media websites as a source of information. Among automotive internet shoppers, 22% use a social media site as a source while shopping for their new vehicle—up from 16% in 2015. The most popular social media sites used by auto internet shoppers during the shopping process are YouTube (13%), DealerRater (7%), and Facebook (5%).

The 2016 New Autoshopper Study analyzes how buyers of new vehicles use digital devices—i.e., tablets, smartphones, and computers—to gather information prior to purchase, as well as which websites and apps they use during the shopping process. The study also examines the various types of content new-vehicle buyers access during their shopping process and identifies the content they find most useful.

“Social media plays a large role in many consumers’ lives, so it’s not surprising that it’s one of the tools they’re using during the vehicle-shopping process,” said Mike Battaglia, vice president, automotive retail at J.D. Power. “While we would not expect social media sites to compete head-on with designated auto shopping sites like and Kelley Blue Book, it’s easy to understand the role and relevance social plays in the automotive shopping process.”

Among automotive internet shoppers who use social media, only 13% indicate that the information posted on social media sites influenced their purchase decision, and only 2% say a social site was the “most useful site” they visited.

“Social media platforms aren’t as useful as automotive shopping websites for automotive information, but they do serve the needs of consumers for unbiased dealer reviews, affirmations from other vehicle owners, accessing automotive-related videos, and exchanging ideas and opinions with friends and family members,” said Battaglia.

However, according to the study, 34% of new-vehicle buyers who use social media for automotive information post a picture of their new vehicle on a social site. Facebook is by far the most popular site for posting vehicle photos—it gets 88% of the posts. Instagram runs a distant second, garnering 21% of vehicle photo posts. (Some consumers post to multiple sites.)

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Auto shopping websites still run well ahead of social media in terms of the traffic they get from vehicle shoppers. The study finds that more than 90% of automotive internet shoppers visit at least one automaker’s site during the shopping process, while 84% visit a dealer site and 79% visit a third-party site. On average, internet shoppers visit 10 automotive websites in their shopping process: four automotive manufacturer websites, three third-party websites, and three dealership websites.
  • On automotive shopping websites, the data most frequently viewed are model information (89%), vehicle pricing (88%), and photo galleries (81%). Automotive internet shoppers say that automotive brand websites are most useful for obtaining model information, vehicle configurators, and photo galleries, but they indicate that dealer websites are most useful for inventory searches and vehicle pricing. Third-party sites, according to the study, are most useful for vehicle ratings/reviews and vehicle comparisons.
  • More than half (53%) of automotive internet shoppers use a mobile device to seek automotive information. For 2016, smartphone usage surpasses tablet usage (37% vs. 33%, respectively). The use of desktop or laptop computers remains most common at 92%, but has been steadily decreasing from 99% in 2012. The proportion of time spent shopping on mobile devices continues to increase, with 33% of total shopping time now conducted on a mobile device.
  • The three most frequently visited third-party sites (in alphabetical order) are Consumer Reports,, and Kelley Blue Book. These three have ranked at the top consistently since 2012. Among the 37 third-party websites measured in the study, TrueCar, for the second consecutive year, shows the largest increase in site visitation.

Consumer Tips
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:

  • Use social media to collect anecdotes and advice about various vehicle types, but use automaker sites to get the most accurate data.
  • Third-party sites often provide unbiased comparisons of various models. However, many of their assessments are matters of opinion. Be sure to also reference verified owner ratings while conducting your research.
  • Personal experience is the only true test. Use websites and social media as part of your pre-shopping process, but visit several dealers, test the products yourselves, and keep an open mind.

About the Study
The 2016 New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from 17,349 purchasers and lessees of new 2014 to 2016 model-year vehicles who used information gathered digitally during the shopping process. The study was fielded from February through June 2016.

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