Mobile Applications for Insurance: What’s Coming

By John Cantwell August 31, 2011

Apple’s App Store has close to a half million mobile applications available for download. Yet today, if you search the site for “auto insurance,” you get only about 100 apps.

Almost all major auto insurers are providing various claims reporting and policy management tools on the web, including early mobile applications. But we expect a steady stream of development and innovation — creative ways to serve customers with mobile device technology.

Some carriers are leading the way with new ideas. Progressive recently launched "VIN Capture" — an app that can provide a quote if the customer takes a picture of a car’s VIN barcode. We’re sure that other companies are looking at the technology very closely, and we’ll soon see more innovations.

A recent Pew research study indicates that 35% of adults own a smartphone. And 25% of those consumers use their mobile phones as their primary Internet access devices. We expect both metrics to continue to rise. Consumers like — and will increasingly demand — the ability to manage the social, business, and financial aspects of their lives instantly on their mobile phones. That includes insurance. Companies that meet the demands with easy-to-use applications will enjoy a competitive advantage.

Verisk envisions — and is actively developing — mobile apps for both underwriting and claims. We don’t expect to provide end-consumer (policyholder) applications. But we do plan to offer our customers (insurance companies and others) “data-ready” modules that you’ll be able to integrate into your own mobile apps for new prospects, policyholders, claims adjusters, law enforcement, and others.

Two ideas are particularly interesting. One involves the new-business underwriting process and the other involves field claims adjusting and investigation.

Underwriting
Today’s consumers are very comfortable using their smartphones and camera capabilities. What if a few simple pictures, taken by your policyholder and fed into a well-designed mobile app, could let you instantly verify:

  • that the car exists
  • who owns it
  • the registration address
  • where the car is right now
  • the current insurance policy information

Such a “virtual inspection” could give you a valuable underwriting tool and at the same time open up new shopping and discount opportunities for consumers willing to snap a few pics.

Claims
As technology quickly advances, flexible field connectivity is necessary in communication and product and service delivery. Adjusters, appraisers, and investigators in the field are relying more and more on handheld devices to tie them into the corporate systems and applications that manage the workflow of their jobs.

The development of mobile apps and web apps will allow for efficient field connectivity to claim systems, databases, and e-tools that can lead to reduced cycle time, increased productivity, more accurate adjustment, better customer service, and higher retention. Those benefits will be the driving force behind continued innovation in connectivity.

Mobile devices are already a very important way for consumers to interact with their service providers. We believe that, in a few short years, such devices will be the most important way consumers will want to communicate. Verisk will continue to innovate on your behalf in the mobile marketplace, and we invite your comments and suggestions. 

Please feel free to contact me at jcantwell@verisk.com if you have any underwriting questions. If you have any claims questions, please contact Tom Mulvey at tmulvey@iso.com.


John Cantwell

John Cantwell, vice president, Auto Product Management, Verisk Insurance Solutions, is responsible for product management and branding strategy and leading the development and launch of innovative new products. Before joining Verisk, he was vice president of underwriting and product development at AIG Direct/21st Century Insurance.