Wednesday 4 January 2017 3:15 pm

"Alexa, what's an annuity?" Insurance company Aviva is using Amazon Echo

"Alexa, what's an annuity?"

Now your Amazon Echo can tell you the answer to burning questions about insurance and guide you through the unfamiliar jargon of the industry.

The Insurance giant Aviva has developed a so-called skill (like an app for smartphones) for the voice activated speaker which proved a big hit for Amazon over Christmas.

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The firm spent 12 weeks creating the skill which provides people with  more than 300 insurance terms and their definitions.

But it could soon do much more.

"We are the first UK insurer to deliver a Skill for Alexa," said Aviva's digital customer experience director.

"Our first foray into this world is pretty straightforward but in the future you can expect this to be much more closely linked to your own policies. It is a new way for our customers to interact with us at Aviva”

The firm believes voice will be one of the major ways that customers engage with them in future.

Insurers are increasingly taking notice of technology and innovation in the sector – investment in this part of the UK's world-leading fintech industry had already tripled by September 2016 compared to the prior year.

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Much innovation is still at the early and experimental stage for both startups and the big firms. 

Admiral made a high-profile misstep last year when plans to glean information from customers' Facebook posts and activity turned out to fall foul of the social network's rules.

The city watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority is keeping a close eye on insurers use of big data, welcoming the ability of technology to better asses risk but also raising an eyebrow over its potential to penalise customers unfairly.

Watch Aviva talk about the skill below