Insurance Innovation of the Month: Preventative IoT in public/social housing by Zurich Insurance UK
Ninety’s “Insurance Innovations of the Month” feature contains regular snapshots of real and recent insurance innovations, based on conversations with the innovators behind them. They are drawn from anywhere in the world, and from all categories of insurance. If you’ve got an innovation you’d like to highlight, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month’s Insurance Innovation is from Zurich in the UK:
- Insurer(s): Zurich Insurance.
- Market(s): UK.
- Insurance type(s): commercial property P&C / general insurance.
Initially looking at Escape of Water (EoW) issues within public / social housing properties, Zurich used early IoT pilots to uncover an even bigger problem faced by their public/social housing clients: property degradation caused by high damp and black mold, with resultingly high reactive maintenance costs. The opportunity was to pin-point damp issues before they caused maintenance issues and feed them into a preventative, lower-cost maintenance schedule.
Zurich installed 200 temperature & humidity sensors in 60 public / social housing properties across multiple clients in various regions and started ingesting IoT data, partnering with Shepherd for specialist IoT hardware & processing. Simultaneously, they gathered manual maintenance records from those clients. Zurich’s data science team pulled both datasets together and started looking for patterns in the data, liaising closely with the public / social housing organizations’ maintenance teams as necessary. Even in the 60 properties in the pilot, Zurich detected a number of incidents of high humidity, where they believed black mold could be taking effect. In one property, a blocked gutter was causing the issue. In another new-build property, 80% humidity levels identified a problem with ventilation that turned out to be systemic to all new-builds with the same specification. In a further case, the data science algorithms predicted a water leak in an apartment, which was validated by the subsequent installation of a water flow meter. Zurich are looking at paths to scale for the innovation.
These public/social housing clients are now better able to plan their maintenance spend, turning expensive reactive intervention into lower-cost preventative trouble-shooting. The value-add service provided by Zurich to its clients goes above and beyond the usual service, giving them a unique reason to renew with Zurich, and simultaneously reducing loss ratios. The project, the early stages of which were supported by Ninety in conjunction with Zurich’s Innovation Foundry, has won three major insurance innovation awards, including – most recently – the Internet of Things Breakthrough Award at the Insurance Times’ Tech & Innovation Awards 2019.
As a social, for-purpose business ourselves, Ninety is always looking for the social, human or environmental impact of new ideas in insurance. Here, the case is clear: vulnerable public/social housing tenants are having their living conditions actively monitored and protected from the dangers of black mold. Like all the best innovations, though, it’s a win-win-win. A win for the tenant. A win for the public/social housing organization. And a win for Zurich.
Tips to other innovators
- “Keep talking to the customer, and stay humble.”
- “Be willing to find different needs to those you originally set out to meet.”
Categorization for insurance innovation portfolio planning:
Ninety Ten Big Ideas: this is an example of Ninety’s “Risk Prevention” Big Idea.
Ninety Ten Types of Insurance Innovation: this innovation combines the following Ten Types categories – 1) Collaboration & Partnerships, 2) Operations & Claims, and 3) Added-Value Services.
These categorizations reflect the taxonomies and market insights from Ninety’s Insurance Idea Pulse 2020 report which is designed as a tool for innovation portfolio planning by insurers.