Mobile Claims Apps: From Front to Back
Mobile claims applications clearly have the potential to increase customer satisfaction by offering greater speed, accuracy and transparency into processes that were previously opaque. But without proper planning, they can prove to be a double-edged sword.
Insurance Networking News, January 2, 2013
Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast on Oct. 30, 2012 and for days lashed the region with high winds and rain. From that day through November 5, Allstate Corp., the nation's largest publicly traded personal lines insurer, received almost 14,000 claims submissions online and through mobile claims applications, representing a 116-percent increase compared to a non-catastrophe week.
By integrating telephony, text messaging, e-mail, video conferencing, Internet access, as well as photo and video capabilities, into a single personal technology, mobile devices have transformed the ways people communicate, entertain themselves, shop and transact business.
Insurers need to realize the potential value of mobile claims technology, just as consumers have realized the value of self-service applications in other contexts. Through customer self-service, mobile claims applications potentially provide for better allocation of resources by the insurer, offer greater transparency into previously opaque processes, potentially faster claims-cycle times and, when done well, enhance the perception of customer centricity and technological savvy for everyone.
"If insurance companies are looking for an opportunity area, it's how they can deliver a customer experience across multiple channels that's comparable to the retail experience," says Celia Ramos, insurance principal, Deloitte Consulting. "That's the experience claimants and policyholders are familiar with, especially younger generations."
Despite their potential, however, mobile claims technologies can prove to be a double-edged sword. Consumers have higher expectations for mobile apps that have been set by their experiences with similar technologies from other industries, observes Ian Campos, VP global insurance practice leader, Capgemini Financial Services.
"In some ways, [a mobile claim application] is a way to 'tangible-ize' the services provided by insurance companies. So from the claims perspective, it is critical to have applications and services that meet those expectations," Campos says.
Economics are an important driver of the push to self-service via mobile and online applications, and first-notice-of-loss (FNOL) applications are now table stakes for large personal lines P&C insurers, says Donald Light, Celent's director, Americas Property/Casualty Practice. "Going back three or four years, it became a mark of coolness for an insurer to hack together an iPhone application of some kind; and reporting a loss was seen as a fairly straightforward application they could create without a lot of trouble," Light says. "Does that represent a thoughtful response to mobile computing across the board? Probably not."
As a result, many FNOL apps didn't make customers happier, more loyal, improve the claims process or generate revenue, Light says.
To more effectively reevaluate a mobile claims strategy for both policyholders and claimants, Light recommends breaking out the percentage of FNOL reports by communications method: mobile device, online, calls to the agent, and calls to the claim center, for example. From there, he recommends frequently sampling customer satisfaction with each process. "Ask them: Was it fast, fun and easy, or not?" he says.
Another reason mobile claims applications have been successful is that they are not very complicated to build, offers Mark Breading, partner at insurance research and consultancy Strategy Meets Action. "They're usually a front end to existing applications. The transaction processing logic and database management is already in place. Simple mobile apps just enable those existing capabilities to be available via a mobile interface. More sophisticated mobile apps rethink the user experience and may also result in some changes to the back-end systems," he says.
While larger firms are creating sophisticated mobile apps, many medium and smaller companies lack the resources. "It's all they can do to keep their core systems updated and operating and keep underwriting and servicing their business," Breading says. As a stop-gap measure, many are merely extending their claims systems' Web capabilities to accept data feeds from mobile devices, which is not optimal.
"Building a mobile app is better; the challenge is that you have to support all the different devices on the market and their different form factors," operating systems and distribution methods, Breading says. However, a number of intermediary companies will now build the apps and test them on the different platforms and operating systems.
For those insurers that would build the app themselves, Breading cautions that building the interface requires a new mindset. "You see some that look like you're filling out a form, and that's not necessarily the way you want to do things with your iPhone. You really need an intelligent rules engine behind it, so you're presenting one question at a time, so it's visible, easy and a logical flow. You can do drop downs or touch selections from a category. That's really using the capabilities of a tablet or whatever the user has."
For more information on related topics, visit the following channels:
Add Your Comments...
If you have already registered to Insurance Networking News, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immeditely be directed to post a comment.
You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.