There's actually nothing new about electronic social networking—it was actually a huge fad back in the 1970s. And it wasn't instigated by a bunch of geeks stuck to their 3270 terminals: Truckers on the road with Citizens’ Band radios started it. Those of you who were around then, or have watched a Burt Reynolds movie, will remember how a virtual, on-air culture sprung up with its own language. (Examples: “back off the hammer” means slow down; a “bear cave” is a police station.)
That's why it was interesting to speak recently with Dan Ribar, CIO at 1st Guard Corp., about how mobile apps where becoming part of truckers' toolkits. 1st Guard, a leading truck insurance firm providing physical damage and non-trucking liability insurance to leased owner operators, rolled out an app, called Trucker1, that links with an e-signature system, enabling independent truckers to sign up while on the road. There are currently versions of Trucker1 for the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and HTC phones.
The app is perfect for truckers who don't necessarily have immediate access to fax machines when they need to enroll or make changes in policies. I spoke with Ribar as part of my recent INN report on the viability of mobile apps in the insurance space, and learned why mobile is well-suited for the ultimate “mobile” insurance customer.
“Because our customer is mobile, their schedule dictates when we would receive the applications back,” he explains. “It would be safe to say that prior to electronic signatures, the applications would typically be completed and sent back to us from one day to one week—that is the extreme.”
Plus, if there was an error or incomplete information at any point in the process, it meant documents would have to go back and forth a number times before the transaction could be completed.
“Now, with the mobile capabilities the time has been cut down to a few hours to a day or two,” Ribar adds.
For customers on the go, the old model for insurance application or claims processing no longer works.
“It used to be a lot easier in old-school agencies, where you go and talk to the agent, and sit in front them and sign the forms,” says Ribar. “Those days are gone, especially with our model. The new solution, as more and more of our truckers have mobile devices, the whole transaction can happen in a rest area.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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