There is no shortage of statistics available for the growing popularity of mobile technology. Personally, the one I found most interesting is that every day, more than 3 million hours are spent playing Angry Birds, a game that began its existence on the iOS mobile platform. While no insurance app is ever going to rival the popularity of flinging wingless birds at green egg-stealing swine, insurers are counting on the power of mobile to impact their claims operations.
“The mobile environment is rapidly evolving in terms of the number of devices, capabilities, and usage,” says Jill Rasmussen, assistant director of marketing Web development at Amica Insurance. “Mobile is a space our customers are in, so it’s a space we need to be in as well.”
Insurers have two constituents to serve in deploying mobile claims technology: adjusters and claimants. Adjusters are by definition mobile. For them, the value of technology lies in delivering the “3 Cs:” communication, collaboration, and consolidation.
Some have questioned whether it pays to develop mobile claims technology—either mobile-optimized Web sites or downloadable smartphone apps—for a process that most people will do, hopefully, very infrequently. However, the University of South Carolina’s i3 program, which studies the insurance technology industry, predicts that in the near future both smart-phone apps and mobile Websites will be capable of a full range of insurance transactions, from quoting and buying insurance to making claims.
Other carriers have jumped feet-first into the world of mobile claims reporting. Farmers—known for its fleet of high-tech Mobile Claims Center busses—allows customers to initiate a claim for either auto or home using its Farmers iClaim app for iPhone, Android, or Blackberry devices. First released in October, 2009, iClaim was developed fully in house by Farmers in about 90 days. The current version was released in early 2011.
But just how well used are mobile claims apps? For Amica, it’s too soon to say. “We’ve been pleased with the results, but the app is fairly new,” Rasmussen says, declining to state specific usage figures.
“The mobile channel is becoming one additional channel for claims filing and processing,” Rao says. “However, it will take some time for people to get used to filing claims by using a mobile app.”