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We still don't have insurance to protect from a disruptive technology future

We buy many insurances – just in case.  Car, homeowners, apartment, flood, personal liability – all are hedges against the unknown and unwanted.  Seeing a business opportunity, insurers created a long-term care insurance market for a benefit the customer might not need for another 25 years. We can buy a service contract to cover repairs of our appliances.  Yet so it continues that when we purchase technology, carrier, or software services, the offering changes ever more quickly -- and our technology becomes obsolete. So we toss the products (and services) into the soon-forgotten gadget graveyard with 135 million mobile phones discarded in 2010 alone -- the last date for which there are EPA statistics.

We are always in restart mode... We pay all over again for the same mind-numbing learning curve about new chargers, cases, setups, upgrades, downloads, uploads, backups and restore processes (such as in-car technology). The most we can buy is a Geek Squad-like service plan for fixing the current mishmash of gadgets. We cannot buy an insurance service plan for the gadgets that haven’t been invented yet – the ones that we have not yet acquired. Looking down from the balcony at a recent matinee, note how many non-teens struggle to exit from Facebook dog pictures, silence the ringer, or turn the phone off.  No doubt these phones were new, customizing the icons and learning the phone's idiosyncrasies daunting.

...But we are increasingly dependent on our devices and online sites to find services.   This includes slogging through marketplaces of every type, including those health and companion care -- when we are at our most vulnerable and desperate, but also in-home repair, used cars, hotels, airfare. You name it, there's a marketplace out there that will find you an in-network, best deal, highest star rating whatever. Can we function without these 'referral' sources?  

Optimistic boomers think future technology will be a piece of cake.  Asked to picture the future, boomers think they will be different from their parents who resisted new technologies.  Even Best buy agrees that this is a boomer-senior problem – that the next generation won’t need genius bars or geek squads. Even boomers insist that their tech-savviness today will serve them well in 20-25 years – they will accommodate whatever ‘innovations’ Silicon Valley designers, all still 20-somethings, will foist on them. Boomers see the unknown tech future as something they can and want to deal with, the way they mastered (sort of) home network setup, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Skype, and Instagram. And they will want to deal with it, because, well, they are boomers. 

Not so fast – maybe our appalled 80-year-old selves will opt out versus boot up another device. Roll many of the current phenomena forward – and then imagine that like today’s 80-somethings, we have become fond of what we know and resistant to what we don’t know.  Why are there are 80+ folks out there who still carry clamshell phones and whose only tablets are meds?  Not because they hate new technology, but because mandated change is stressful. What if the lame attempts to regain and preserve personal online privacy fail – and online identity theft is the new normal? Cybersecurity jobs are booming, of course. Will the trend of decreasing device and internet safety push boomers to return to the horse-and-buggy era of telephone calls, email, and even handwritten letters? Or will the insurance industry identify an opportunity to create a long-term tech care policy that will protect us from future risks and obsolescence in our online and gadget use?

[This post was first published one year ago -- see Pew about frustration, and then note the plethora of training from Verizon, Samsung/Best Buy and Apple]


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