The commercial insurance sector is poised to make extensive use of mobile technologies while away from the office, according to a new survey about mobile technology conducted by FirstBest Systems, Inc.

The study found that most agent and carrier respondents already use—or want—a tablet device, that almost everyone uses at least one smartphone, and that there is uniform desire to access information, conduct time-sensitive tasks, and provide better service from anywhere, at any time.

The Mobile Technology for Insurance Survey was conducted by FirstBest at the Market Scout insurance symposium held in September in Dallas.  Survey responses were grouped into two categories: carriers/MGUs and agencies/brokers.  The carrier/MGU group included 67 respondents, representing approximately 50 organizations (two-thirds representing insurance carriers). The agency/broker group included 46 respondents from 45 organizations.

Mobile device use is pervasive among carriers and MGUs, but laptops have lost appeal in the field. Other highlights from the sample of 67 respondents include:

  • 49 percent presently use a tablet, with the majority using an Apple iPad or iPad2
  • Close to 100 percent use a smartphone; 17 percent of those use more than one smartphone (45 percent use a Blackberry, 46 percent use an iPhone and 20 percent use an Android smartphone)
  • 46 percent would prefer a tablet for business use when away from their desks; 34 percent a smartphone, and only 23 percent a laptop computer
  • 85 percent say they would benefit from mobile access; of those, 75 percent feel mobile devices would help provide faster responses and better service to customers and 67 percent would like to prevent work buildup while out of the office and resolve issues immediately

The survey also found that more than half of carriers want to stay connected while on vacation. When asked: “When would you be most likely to use a mobile device to do these tasks, while away from your desk? respondents also answered while traveling for business (80 percent) and while at home (64 percent). 

When asked: “What kinds of tasks would you like to be able to do a mobile device?” the top responses were:  look up customer information from anywhere (83 percent), check an application status (62 percent), and show information to a client (58 percent).  Most would like to be able to refer the application to someone else or review a referral, and 46 percent would like to bind a policy from their tablet or smartphone.

Agents Stay Connected

Nearly 50 agents and brokers completed the FirstBest Mobile Technology survey.  Findings include:

  • 52 percent use a tablet device, with the vast majority using an Apple iPad or iPad2
  • 100 percent use a smartphone; of those, 4 percent use more than one (50 percent iPhone, 28 percent Blackberry, and 15 percent Android-based)
  • 42 percent would prefer a tablet as their one mobile device for business; 24 percent a smartphone, 18 percent a laptop
  • 80 percent say they would benefit from mobile access; of those, 95 percent feel mobile devices would help provide faster responses; 81 percent would resolve issues immediately and provide better service to their customers; 65 percent would obtain faster responses from their company and/or carrier

When asked “When would you be most likely to use a mobile device to do these tasks, while away from your desk?” 87 percent of agents noted while traveling for business, 61 percent while at home or visiting a client, and 74 percent (more than the 53 percent of carriers) would use a mobile device while on vacation. 

As with carriers, when asked “What kinds of tasks would you like to be able to do with a mobile device?” data access, such as looking up customer information (80 percent) and sharing information with clients (66 percent) were popular, but 66 percent would also like to be able to start a new insurance application, and 57 percent would reserve the market/perform clearance.

“This study shows that the industry wants to be able to conduct business on the go, in order to provide exceptional service and resolve issues without delay,” says John Belizaire, co-founder and CEO of FirstBest Systems, Inc.  “With nearly 100 percent smartphone penetration and 50 percent tablet penetration in the survey pool, it’s up to insurance companies to provide their underwriters, field service teams and agents with applications that empower them be more productive and win more business.  It’s clear that mobile represents a real opportunity for carriers.”