It is curious about the slowness to adopt mobile devices in the insurance industry. There are more than a billion of these devices on the planet; I think they have caught on and are here to stay. Other industries are scrambling to find ways to deliver apps to their customers on a variety of platforms but not the insurance industry. True, several jumbo carriers have started rolling apps out. But, why have the other large insurance carriers resisted change? A recent Novarica study shows that fewer than 5% of insurers providing any functionality today to intermediaries or policyholders, but poised to grow to 25% or more within the next two years.
We know insurance is complex, is tightly regulated, and the data is often sensitive. But so is bank information as well as any financial activities surrounding bill processing and payment. There is a growing consumer base that is looking for more access to information and the ability to react to it whenever they want to from wherever they want to. The days of the younger generation preferring to do business online are gone. Today you can see all ages using apps one their mobile devices to arrange travel, pay bills, check movie times, etc. The same can be done with insurance. More complex activities like a new policy or severe claim processing will usually require someone who can guide the customer through the needed steps. But, policy review, claim status update, bill payment, address change, etc. are all simple activities that can be handled with minimum entry and little insurance acumen.
The insurance industry needs to emphasize mobile initiatives and begin to guide consumer expectations rather than sit back and watch. Carriers that implement a mobile strategy will see customer satisfaction increase leading to higher retention and new business increase for customers that leave their carrier for an innovative carrier. A mobile strategy does not eliminate the need for a web presence, agents, call centers, or other traditional service methods. Rather, it allows a carrier to be perceived as friendlier and easier to do business with.
Frank Heaps is the managing director for Innovation in Insurance (i3), and is an adjunct professor of insurance at the Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina.
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