The populist’s complaint that insurance companies never want to pay claims isn’t true – insurance companies need losses to support their own existence. If your car never crashes, your house never burns, and your pipes never leak, what’s the need for insurance? And yet a family’s goal, and that of society, should be the adoption of technology and strategies where cars can avoid accidents, where homes can’t burn, where computers shut off leaking pipes, and where cyberattacks are stopped before they begin.
Although technology and good ideas are moving in that direction, I’m impatient. I know technology will give families more control over their own exposure to risk, but I want to give technology a complementary partner of individual behaviors that reduce our own risk. If I know that my home is safer if I shut off my water before vacation, I want control over that decision. If I know my identity is safer if I change my wifi password every 30 days, I want control over that decision. If I know that my home is safer if I clean my roof and gutters every year, I want control over that decision. And I want the reward for my good decisions to be daily real-time pricing of my insurance based on me and what I did to affect risk today, not participation in reactive mass pricing. And I also want transparency in showing me not only why my cost for risk is what it is, but a display of where my opportunities for reductions lie.
We’re not likely to get that from the status quo. As told to me by an insurance company executive “if people’s behaviors lead to more losses, raising premiums for everyone is our only response”. And he wasn’t being obtuse, he was being correct if the only option we have is the reactive nature of the insurance industry. The solution for the alternative to insurance is to figure out a way to never need them, not just need them less.
So I imagine a different future where we know a benchmark of safe behavior and we can measure the difference between us and that benchmark which is how the cost for our insurance is calculated (or maybe where we get access to better coverages and guarantees). And then, imagine if all of that is reported to us so we can adjust and manage our behaviors on a daily basis to maximize our own defense. We have this technology now. We need more applications of it for tomorrow. This isn’t merely conceptual, it just needs a louder champion.