Swiss Re recently issued a report on the ways “digital distribution” is reshaping the insurance industry. INN's Chris McMahon provides a nice summary of the scope of the report. What caught my attention is the role of mobile in this emerging, “quiet” revolution across the industry.
The most obvious benefit of the mobile revolution, of course, is that it enables insurers and their customers to interact “anytime, anywhere.” This is particularly critical for customers who tend to be on the road a lot. “Mobile has the potential to reduce costs and increase customer contact at every stage of the insurance distribution process,” the report states.
We're not just talking about phones, either. Telematics is one of the most pronounced examples of mobile technology at work — mobile telematics devices, planted in policyholders' cars, are creating a new source of value for the P&C industry. In addition, within the life and health segments, “the use of mobile apps or wearable devices to track information related to individuals' exercise, diet or health behaviors is influencing design, pricing and claims management.”
As with discounts extended to policyholders using telematics in their vehicles, those customers allowing insurers to record activities with their web-enabled mobile devices also may see reduced premiums. Sensors also can be planted in homes and buildings to assess “changing risk conditions.”
Of course, smartphones also play a role in the new digital insurance enterprise. “Smart mobile can enhance the ability of a customer to submit a claim directly, such as when filing claims,” the report states. “Innovative mobile phone applications can show users the exact angle and features of damages to photograph the scene of a car accident. This reduces the costs and increases the speed of claims processing.”
There also is another truly disruptive aspect to mobile insurance capabilities, the report adds. That is, mobile technologies help insurers reach under-served and unserved markets. “Interaction through the basic mobile network lowers distribution costs by reducing face-to-face contact, allowing insurers to collect small, but frequent premium payments, exchange contracts by text, and sometimes even underwrite base don parametric indices to avoid the need for individual claims assessment.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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