The potential impact on insurance of the "Internet of Things" — the network of connected devices ranging from smart phones to cars to appliances — was a hot topic at both of this year's industry trade shows. But though real-world implementations of IoT technology (other than auto telematics) have been light, today, American Family Insurance took a first step towards a tighter integration of its enterprise with the emerging technology category with the announcement of an incubation program for home automation startups.
The carrier is working with Microsoft on the vendor's recently launched Microsoft Ventures Accelerator to "help the next generation of startups create advancements that lead to safer and smarter homes," according to a press release.
American Family will provide "important consumer insights and a wealth of homeowner knowledge that would be impossible for young companies to gain access to on their own," the company asserts. It also is also offering a minimum optional $25,000 equity investment in each startup accepted into the program.
“Working closely with startups and making early stage investments in emerging technology companies is a great way to support the ecosystem and also benefit our customers," says Dan Reed, managing director of American Family Ventures, in a statement. "We look forward to working with the next generation of companies that are reimagining the connected home.”