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While the insurance industry was an early adopter of mobile technology for basic communication functions, it has lagged in developing and implementing internal and customer-facing applications.

Strategy Meets Action's most recent report, “The Mobile Technology Universe: Current Usage and Future Opportunities for Insurers,” finds that a mere 15 percent of insurers utilize custom mobile apps for employees (captive agents, adjusters, etc.) and 13 percent offer apps for business partners, such as independent agents and third-party adjusters.

Similar numbers are seen with regard to customer-facing apps: 22 percent of insurers have deployed sales-oriented apps (product information, quotes) while 18 percent have deployed service-oriented apps (claims, inquiries).

These comparable numbers reflect the fact that app experimentation has thus far been privy to top-tier insurers, generally those bringing in $1 billion or more in claims per year, according to the report.

Early progress has been weighed by security concerns and decisions that greatly affect long-term mobile efforts—most notably, platform. SMA’s research indicates Blackberries are the most supported mobile platform among insurers (69 percent), followed by the iPhone (56 percent), Android (46 percent) and the iPad (38 percent). However, SMA expects support to drift away from Blackberries, which has dominated the corporate world of business thus far as they are known for their email security and support.

“In the world at large the tide has already turned to Android and iOS, and the evolution to more custom apps will serve to accelerate the trend away from Blackberry devices,” notes the report’s author, SMA Partner Mark Breading. “Insurers will need to plan support for all of the popular platforms in the marketplace; the power is now in the hands of the user, not the corporation.” In other words, as customer-facing apps become more of a business factor, insurers will need to add more weight to the devices being used by those consumers.

SMA also points to determining business value and ranking the wide array of mobile opportunities as another big hurdle that insurers face in beginning to leverage mobile technologies in the future. The results indicate that distribution (62 percent) tops future mobile investment plans, with claims (56 percent) and marketing (51 percent) also carrying strong support. Meanwhile, apps are garnering intrigue and being developed that span the value chain, from billing to policy servicing to underwriting to investment management.

SMA’s research included the surveying of 46 insurers and interviews with over 20 insurance company executives in North America. The respondents included a mix of company sizes and all major lines of business. The survey was conducted this year from June through October.

 

 

 

 

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