Even insurers have gotten caught up in the hysteria surrounding Pokémon Go, a free-to-play mobile app released this month that is currently the top grossing app for Apple iOS. The augmented reality (AR) game relies on players’ mobile GPS (via their phones), so they can track and hopefully find Pokémon characters superimposed on the real-life scenery in front of them.
A Russian bank is now offering free Pokémon Go insurance as part of a promotion, according to RT. “Pokémon Go players in Russia are being offered free insurance in the event of injury while using the popular app. The country’s biggest bank Sberbank is giving clients 50,000 rubles (about $800) worth of cover, Kommersant daily reports.”
The bank’s promotion isn’t unfounded. People have already been injured playing Pokémon Go and Rosalie L. Donlon over at PropertyCasualty360.com notes that participants should avail themselves of three types of insurance: homeowners’ and renters’ insurance, in case someone breaks into your home while you are on the chase, or you mistakenly damage someone else’s home; motor-vehicle related accidents, should you have an accident during your pursuit (as this person allegedly did); and identity theft and cyber-crime protection, should your private information get compromised.
Insurance Networking News reprinted an interesting blog post from Novarica’s Harry Huberty (“Pokémon GO: How Can Insurers Seize the Opportunity?”), which examined how insurers can capitalize on AR technology:
Perhaps a form of live-advice that helps claims adjusters (or policyholders filing FNOL) know where to point their phone’s camera to take photos and videos of car or home damage, giving a real-time comparison to the ‘before’ and ‘after’ state. An augmented reality app might also help to prevent accidents, scanning a home or worksite and alerting the user to potential risks. And possibly an insurer will team up with a third-party to devise gamification methods of encouraging safer behavior.
These are excellent suggestions/possibilities, but I’m particularly interested in the last one. Pokémon Go has become a legitimate fitness craze, according to Mashable. “Fitness tracker Jawbone UP claims that users of its fitness band who also mentioned that they used Pokémon Go logged a whopping 62.5 percent more steps this weekend compared to their steps taken during a normal weekend,” says writer Adario Strange.
It’s also important to note that there is an upcoming Pokémon Go wearable that has already sold out. Forbes reports that Pokémon Go Plus costs $34.99 and will vibrate and flash when a character is in a participant’s vicinity.
In a previous Sapiens Spotlight blog post, Sapiens’ own Alex Zukerman wrote, “Wearables can be used to increase customer loyalty and strengthen insurers’ brands, via popular apps, gamification and social media.”
Life, pension and annuity insurers have a vested interest in keeping their customers fit and active. What’s to stop an insurer from directly partnering with a gaming company to create an app/wearable that will capture its customers’ imagination and get them moving?
Such an offering could of course include incentives and promotions, such as a lower premium for a certain amount of daily steps over an extended period of time while playing the game.
In addition to strengthening an insurer’s brand and adding an element of fun to an industry that can unfortunately be perceived as stuffy, such an app/wearable experience would produce a treasure trove of data that insurers could harvest.
Pokémon Go requires a GPS and tracks players’ locations at all times. As I mentioned earlier, the distance players are traveling (and how quickly) could also be easily tracked. This could bring up privacy concerns, but as noted by Huberty, “As many insurers wonder how they might encourage policyholders to turn over automotive telematics data in exchange for rate adjustment, Pokémon GO shows that if the reward is attractive enough, people will bite.”
There is interesting potential here and I could keep going, but I’m going to cut this blog post short now, so you can continue your frantic search for Pikachu…