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Insurers slowly adopting biometrics for a more seamless experience


Insurance agencies are slowly working towards adopting biometric technologies such as fingerprint, voice and facial recognition to provide clients with a more seamless experience, according to a report by Information Management.

Donald Light, director of Celent America’s P&C insurance practice, said that insurance firms are considerably behind banking, technology, and security firms when it comes to implementing biometric technology.

However, Light said that biometric adoption by insurers “will grow probably pretty quickly over the next two to three years.”

“With this technology, members can use something they are – like their face or voice – to provide an additional layer of security to verify their identity,” said Gary McAlum, chief security officer at USAA, which began offering biometrics in late 2014.

Today, the insurer has grown its customer base to more than two million by providing a choice between three multi-factor authentication options — quick logon PIN, facial or voice recognition — through its mobile app.

McAlum said that along with a trusted device, offering multi-factor authentication helps customers verify who they say they are more effectively than a single-factor username-password model.

Aside from applications like security and access control, biometrics post a “real opportunity to transform customers’ buying experience,” according to Michael Taht, EVP of research, analytics, and underwriting at Munich Re.

The company is particularly interested in collecting data from wearable technology to improve risk assessment, as well as using biometrics in underwriting.

One of the greatest challenges in increasing biometric adoption in the insurance field is properly educating insurers on the technology’s potential, said Karl Ricanek, co-founder and chief data scientist at Lapetus.

He said his goal is “sharing and getting the insurance community to understand that the use of biometrics is something that can replace their traditional system.”

Taht is optimistic that the industry will make slow yet significant progress over the next few years.

“It will feel a little slower than what people think it can be over the next couple of years,” Taht said. “But when we look back five years from now, we are going to say ‘wow, it’s changed a lot.’ It will be incremental change and it will be occurring across multiple insurers and it will be hand-in-hand with different distribution options.”

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