By Michael E. Diamond
Half the U.S. adult population now owns smartphones, and adoption of mobile devices continues to climb across all age groups, especially among younger consumers. The proliferation of mobile devices, and the growing preference for mobile channels, is fueling demand for new mobile apps across vertical markets. However, when it comes to mobile offerings, the insurance industry lags behind the banking industry. To stay competitive, insurers need to create their mobile strategy with innovative features that make it easy and convenient for consumers to do business with them.
Mobile solutions offer insurers an opportunity to differentiate themselves with convenient, self-service tools that meet consumer demand and expectations, and facilitate easy quoting, purchasing and servicing of their policies. Mobile imaging solutions can be leveraged across the insurance value chain to enhance process efficiency, improve customer satisfaction, and reach, attract, and retain customers. Mobile has a role to play, from the marketing and sales of an insurance policy to the settlement of a claim and the payout of the final claim amount.
Insurance providers looking to build out their mobile offerings should examine the banking industry as a helpful model. Some banks that made early investments in mobile technology gained the first-mover advantage and were recognized as innovators. Financial institutions use services like mobile deposit to engage customers and build loyalty. Mobile deposit technology uses the camera on a smartphone or tablet to deposit a paper check by taking a picture of it. This simple mobile service leveraged existing consumer behavior (taking a picture with a mobile device) and saved customers a visit to a branch. Like insurance professionals, bankers have relatively few customer interaction opportunities. One might think that decreasing the already limited face-time would weaken customer loyalty, but banks saw exactly the opposite. The CEB TowerGroup calls mobile banking a “sticky” service that keeps customers, and a service that people are willing to switch banks in order to obtain. According to Forrester Research when discussing the future of the insurance industry, “mobile delivers content when it’s most needed in a context that’s most relevant, leading to additional sales and more loyal customers.”
Mobile imaging for insurers
Agents and policyholders already are accustomed to using the camera on their smartphone during the claims process. With mobile imaging, insurers simply are applying this behavior to other aspects of the quote and claims process. It is the next logical step in the mobile evolution and it doesn’t require learning any additional technology – it’s fast, easy and even fun.
Using mobile imaging, a smartphone or tablet camera can capture information on a driver’s license, a vehicle identification number or an insurance card, and translate it into useable data. Complex algorithms pull all the relevant data from the images. There is no need to key in long strings of numbers and letters manually, the risk of error is dramatically decreased and vast amounts of information can be captured in a matter of seconds.
What can mobile imaging do for me?
Property and casualty insurers can reduce their customers’ “pain points” dramatically. For example, Progressive has been a leader in mobile auto quotes and has found that customers appreciate how easy mobile imaging makes it to shop for and buy insurance from anywhere, at any time. This service folds in perfectly with Progressive’s other mobile offerings and matches its customers’ expectations for how insurance can fit their mobile lifestyles.
In the future, mobile imaging also could make processing a claim a snap. All the policyholder has to do is take a photo of their driver’s license, insurance card and vehicle ID number. Mobile imaging solutions are capable of extracting the relevant data from the document and populating the appropriate fields in the mobile claims form. This would eliminate the need for manual data entry by the user, which can be tricky when using the keyboard or touch screen of a mobile device on the side of the road after an accident. The quality and accuracy of the information captured by taking a photo also increases productivity and potentially could reduce the cost of claims administration for the insurer.
Another area where mobile imaging can be applied for insurance is to facilitate payments. Policyholders can snap a photo of their insurance bill and pay their bill on their mobile device quickly and easily with a better user experience. They can also snap a picture of a blank check to set up recurring ACH payments from their bank accounts. It’s easy, convenient and fun for the user, and it’s a valuable customer acquisition and retention tool for insurers.
Get Ready for the Mobile Generation
For policyholders, mobile imaging is easy – as easy as taking a picture. It takes the intimidation out of filing a claim because there is no tedious data entry, they know that the information captured will be accurate and it will be done in just a snap. They have the power to perform transactions from anywhere, at any time. This convenience also is combined with two-factor authentication and data encryption on the mobile device en route to a secured server, making mobile insurance applications safe and secure.
Most insurers already have made early investments in mobile technology, but now is the time to start thinking about a complete mobile strategy to ensure that your core systems are mobile-ready. Any portals/channels being used to reach potential and current policyholders should be able to deliver mobile transactions. It’s a good idea to review the ability of core systems to support real-time, mobile data access.
These new mobile tools mean that consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing insurance. New technology-enabled experiences and expectations are reshaping how consumers think about insurance. The time to act is now! Are you ready for the mobile generation?
Michael E. Diamond is senior vice president of sales and business development, Mitek.