Fitness bands and other gadgets are changing the way Americans exercise and track their goals. Soon, they also may change the way insurance companies calculate premiums.

"While insurers have traditionally based their underwriting and pricing processes on a limited view of certain customer variables, emerging technologies such as wearables and other connected devices can help insurers break from their traditional business models and provide outcome-based services for their customers," said John Cusano, senior managing director of Accenture's global insurance practice. "For instance, one leading insurer recently announced that it will provide new policyholders with a free fitness band to track their health progress – and then reward their healthy living with a reduction in life insurance premiums."

Almost two-thirds of 200 carriers surveyed expect wearable technologies to have a significant impact on their industry, according Accenture's annual Technology Vision report. Sixty-three percent expect wearables to be broadly adopted by the industry within two years, while 31 percent said they already are using them to engage customers.

  • Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of insurers said that providing a personalized, customer experience is one of their top three priorities within the organization.

  • Fifty percent already see a positive return from their investment in personalized technologies.

  • Fifty-six percent find that managing data is "extremely" or "very" challenging.

  • However, 86 percent said they believe software intelligence will be integral to simplifying their IT function.

  • Sixty-six percent of carriers said they experiment with intelligence technology.

  • Seventy-nine percent believe successful businesses will soon manage employees alongside intelligent machines.

"Companies are starting to recognize the value provided by advances in language processing and speech recognition, which are making it easier for people to interact naturally with technology and machines," said Thomas Meyer, managing director of Accenture's Insurance practice in Europe, Africa and Latin America. "The next-generation insurance company will benefit from human and technology collaboration, with workers leveraging new technologies such as wearables to augment their abilities and help them make better decisions."

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