Mobile Claims: To App
or Not to App
mobile a must,
but an app
isn’t the only
Improving customer service is key for most insur- ance companies these days. Insurers’ TV com- mercials boast that their customers are not simply numbers or applications but real people who get he absolute best personal service. Insurers want heir customers to know that once an application has been signed, they will continue to get the same attention and service as they did before becoming a customer. If you claim to have great service, you have to
perform, and one of the best ways to provide excellent customer
service is during the claims process. The faster a knowledgeable
adjuster can get in touch with a claimant, the less likely he or she
is to end up finding legal counsel. This often means being in the
field to service insureds during these stressful times. In this case,
adjusters will need to have claims functionality in the field in order
to have access to policy information such as coverages, limits and
Bringing mobile claims functions to adjusters is important. The
field adjuster or appraiser is the face of the company, and the more
connectivity, communication and functionality a carrier can give
them, the more productive and effective they will be. Giving field
adjusters mobile claims functionality also enables closer collaboration with home-office staff if additional information is required.
It also gives home-office management a more up-to-the-minute
view in a catastrophe situation.
To put claims systems on smartphones and tablets used by field
adjusters, insurers have two very different choices. They can develop customized apps that provide claims functionality similar
to the home-office claims system, or they can simply make their
claims systems available on mobile devices through a direct connection to the home-office system.
Giving adjusters remote access to the claims system isn’t new. But
mobile devices are the next frontier. Mobile broadband is available
almost everywhere, whereas most laptops need a wi-fi connection,
which can be limited in most remote areas. And while laptops and
notebooks can be set up to use mobile broadband, mobile devices
are easier to carry and always stay connected wirelessly. Adjusters
can arrive with their mobile device in hand and start working.
And mobile devices continue to improve. Notifying adjusters
about new claims and assignments on-the-fly via a mobile device is
fast and efficient, and they are also ideal for electronically capturing signatures and collecting GPS coordinates to process reports
and claims remotely.
The tablet offers a large, easy-to-read screen (unlike a smartphone’s cramped space) that offers much of the functionality of a
laptop but with better portability and
easier connectivity. Some experts predict that the laptop will fade, and the
tablet will be the device of the future.
Considering the options
There is a lot to be gained, but is an
app or the mobile Web the best way
to go? The choices are very different
and should be considered carefully
as companies look to provide this
functionality to their field adjusters.
Mobile apps potentially provide
more functionality and ease-of-use
because they’re designed specifically
for mobile platforms. Adjusters can
shoot photos or video with a mobile
device and directly upload images to the home-office claims system. This can eliminate the need to carry a digital camera, which
requires uploading the files to a laptop and then to the insurer’s
However, the development process can be complex and
time-consuming, and if the adjusters aren’t all using the same
device, the apps must be altered to run on different smartphone
platforms as well as various tablets. And there are maintenance
headaches: As insurer’s claims software changes, the apps have
to change too. Additionally, the look and navigation of the app
may be different than the home-office solution that the field adjuster is used to.
The mobile Web offers the advantage of simplicity. You’re not
creating new software; you’re simply enabling portions of an existing system to be available on a mobile browser. This assumes
that you have a modern claims system that permits Web access.
Because it’s simpler to provide mobile access to the claims system, development may take a couple of weeks instead of many
months or longer for an app. There’s nothing to maintain, as the
adjuster accesses the home-office server that houses the claims
system. Having Internet access is the only limiting factor.
The jury is still out on which path will be the best one to take.
And what’s best for one carrier may not be best for another. IT
executives should look closely at both options before deciding
what the ultimate goal is for providing remote claim functionality
to field adjusters.
Is an app or the
mobile Web the
best way to go?
The choices are
very different and
should be considered with care.
Kennen Burkhart, AAM, AIT, is a business development executive with
Wyde Corporation, a core insurance system provider.