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亚马逊考虑推出房屋保险,消费者能否从中获益?

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亚马逊考虑推出房屋保险,消费者能否从中获益?

据报道,亚马逊正考虑推出房屋保险业务,完善其智能家居产品线。有专家对消费者能否从中获益表示怀疑,但他们也对保险业未来的发展表示期待。

据科技新闻网站The Information报道,亚马逊正在谋划扩张自己的保险业务。此前,这家科技巨兽已经推出过一类医疗保险,而现在,它的目光开始转向房屋保险,希望以此作为基于Alexa服务的智能家居线的一个分支。

智能家居产品现在愈发普遍。Berg Insights的一份报告显示,2016年末,美国有2180万个家庭使用智能家居设备,占比超过50%。而其中,亚马逊堪称智能家居领域的领跑者。

不过,要想撼动房屋保险行业,亚马逊还有很长的路要走。

错综复杂的保险业

非营利组织Insurance Information Institute的佛罗里达州负责人Lynne McChristian表示:"保险业不是这么容易进的,它是美国监管最规范的行业之一。"

亚马逊如果想进军保险业,就必须与各州管理部门合作。各州的规矩不同,大多数保险公司一旦在一个州开展业务,都会在稳定市场后再进行扩张。

想要进入保险业,还得跨过另一个门槛:金融资金的支撑。

McChristian提到:"在保险业,你必须有充足资金以应对可能发生的索赔事项。没有资金来源,你不可能顺利开展保险业务。"

行业观察员表示,对亚马逊这样的科技巨头来说,这是一种截然不同的商业模式。

亚马逊官方对此没有发表任何评论。

节约成本?

亚马逊房屋保险业务的一大潜在卖点是费用低。它的智能家居设备就是旨在为用户节约时间和金钱,相应地,为了搅乱保险行业,房屋保险的价格也可能会比同行同业务的低。

Insurance Information Institute的一份报告显示,2016年,30%以上的屋主认为保险费负担过重,并且很多州的房屋保险费每月平均超过1000美元。

但,也有人认为低价不会成为亚马逊房屋保险业务的主要卖点。

Insurance.com主编Michelle Megna邮件回复说:"我不太相信亚马逊的房屋保险能给屋主带来独一无二的好处。虽然买过其智能家居设备的消费者可在购买保险时获得一定折扣,但其他家居保险公司也同样能根据你已有的家居保险情况提供一样力度的优惠。"

过多的潜在大额索赔项

亚马逊虽然是智能家居巨头,但它推出的智能产品并不能有效预防、或者说预测出那些可能导致大额索赔的事故。

Insurance Information Institute的数据表明,从2012年至2016年,索赔金额最大的事故主要与火灾和雷电、人身财产伤害、水灾和冰灾、暴风和冰雹等有关。亚马逊的智能家居设备能够较好地监测到盗窃和诈骗行为,因此相应的财产索赔金额比较低。另外,报告中还表示,客户索赔次数最多的项目是气象灾害事故,主要是暴风和冰雹,水灾和冰灾,以及其他财产损失。

庞大的客户数据

对于保险公司而言,亚马逊的智能家居设备在某个方面确实用处很大:庞大的消费者数据。

伦敦311 Institute的创始人及首席执行官Matthew Griffin说:"这些数据有助于我们从不同的视角研究客户的行为特征,进而深入分析客户所在区域其他消费者的行为模式。"

未来,保险公司可以通过智能家居设备获取数据,化被动为主动,提前预知客户的需求倾向,这样不仅降低了风险,而且还能对公司竞争力和商业模式进行范式转移。

隔岸观望

亚马逊的优势在于高知名度、庞大的客户数据以及分析数据的能力。美国49%的消费者是亚马逊Prime会员,一旦它推出一项家庭保险业务,这些会员很可能会考虑购入。

然而,目前相关信息较为匮乏,我们很难判断这一业务对亚马逊有利还是对消费者有利。专家认为,亚马逊进军家庭保险业时肯定会与业内优秀的保险公司开展合作。

Megna也说:"我们目前只能观望。说不准亚马逊这个保险也会像谷歌推出的车险一样告吹。"

家庭保险行业内对此并未表示太过担忧,但无法否认的是,亚马逊确实逼着保险业动作起来了。

McChristian表示:"业内的池水已经被搅乱,未知数也有很多,这种未知使得行业的重新洗牌格外令人热血沸腾。"

Amazon may be expanding its insurance game: After working on a project to disrupt health insurance, the tech giant is considering offering home insurance as a complement to its growing line of smart home devices powered by Alexa, according to tech news website The Information.

Smart homes are becoming more common in general. At the end of 2016, more than half of all homes in the United States were smart, a total of 21.8 million households according to a report by Berg Insights. Amazon is a front-runner in the smart home space.

But when it comes to home insurance, Amazon may have a way to go before being able to truly disrupt and change the industry for the better.

A complicated industry

"Insurance is not something you put in a box and ship," said Lynne McChristian, director of disaster response and Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute. "It's one of the most regulated industries in the U.S."

If Amazon were to get into the insurance business, they'd have to work with regulators in every state. Different states have different rules when it comes to home insurance, which is why most insurance companies start in one state and master that market before expanding.

Another barrier to entry in insurance is financial backing.

"Insurance is one of the businesses where you have to have the money up front to pay the anticipated claims,'' McChristian said. "You just don't start that type of business without looking at where the money is going to come from."

This would constitute a large shift in business model for the tech giant, industry observers said.

Amazon officials did not yet respond to an e-mail request for comment.

A cut to costs?

One potential selling point for Amazon home insurance would be decreased cost. The company already markets its smart home devices as time and money-savers; to really disrupt the insurance industry, it could undercut other insurance companies on price.

A report from the Insurance Information Institute showed that in 2016, more than 30 percent of homeowners considered homeowner's insurance a financial burden. For homeowners in many states, average monthly premiums are well over $1,000.

But not everyone thinks that price reduction would be a large part of an Amazon home insurance play.

"I'd be skeptical that there are many benefits for homeowners that they'd not find elsewhere," Michelle Megna, managing editor of Insurance.com, wrote in an e-mail. "It seems to me that the home security discount you'd get from having an Amazon home monitoring device would not be any different from what you'd get from any other home insurance company for having a security system in place."

Coming up short on costliest claims

While Amazon may be a leader in smart home devices, the things that the company's products accomplish are not suited to preventing — or necessarily detecting — the things that cause the most costly insurance claims.

Data from the Insurance Information Institute showed that from 2012 to 2016, the most costly claims were related to fire and lightning, bodily injury and other property damage, water damage and freezing, and wind and hail.

Other property damage, theft and fraud — which Amazon's smart home products are well equipped to detect and monitor — were much less costly to homeowners.

In addition, the report showed that the most frequently submitted claims for homeowners were weather related; wind and hail, water damage and freezing and all other property damage were the top three most frequent claims.

An abundance of data

What Amazon's connected home devices do provide —and is of value to insurers — is a wealth of consumer data.

"They offer insurers new insights into the users in the house and their behaviors," said Matthew Griffin, founder and CEO of the 311 Institute in London. "Insurers will be able to aggregate that data together to get better insights into the behaviors and 'patterns' of individual neighborhoods."

In the future, it may be possible that connected home devices and the data they provide allow insurers to move from a reactive model to a proactive one, meaning that they could detect problems before they arise and fix them. If insurers could avoid risk, that would constitute a paradigm shift in their capability and business model.

What to watch for

What Amazon potentially has going for it in the home insurance space is name recognition, lots of consumer data and the ability to analyze it effectively. If it did have a home insurance offering, it would be very convenient for the 49 percent of American consumers that already have an Amazon Prime premium membership.

But with so few details, it's hard to judge whether there would be a benefit to Amazon or to consumers. Experts say it seems unlikely that Amazon would foray into home insurance without a partner that knows the space better.

"We'll have to watch and see," said Megna at Insurance.com. "It could be that this fizzles out, mirroring Google's experiment with selling car insurance."

While home insurance companies aren't yet worried about potential Amazon competition, the company's announcement does show that the insurance industry is changing.

"Disruption is happening right now," said McChristian at the Insurance Information Institute. "There are unknowns, and that makes it exciting to be a part of something that has some element of reinvention."


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