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Mobile Strategies for Independent Agencies & Their Clients

ACT Mobile Strategies Work Group

In the course of working through its framework of insurance processes (see Appendix) and how they might change in a mobile world, the work group identified the following key agent needs for information and tools in the field, coupled with a number additional discussion points with regard to agent apps. The work group took a similar tack with regard to key consumer needs from mobile devices and had a lot of additional discussion about client focused apps. The work group has also developed a summary of important capabilities found on mobile devices (see Appendix). Finally, the work group identified some industry issues that need further discussion. We hope the information below will bring ACT up to date on the discussions the work group has had to-date. 

Key Agent Needs for Information & Tools in the Field
  • Agents can encounter clients anywhere and would like to have the mobile tools to be able to access needed client information to answer those questions on the spot or to take an action needed by the client (e.g., to issue a certificate or send an auto id card) – whether accessed from the agency management system or the carrier. For example, it could be the client’s contact and policy information, billing status, a list of recommended body shops, a body shop estimate, or 800#s for filing claims directly with carriers.  
  • Agents typically do prep work for client meetings in their offices and create proposals and other written hand-outs there. Agents, however, would like to be able to use their tablets to have talking points, make presentations and present graphs. In time, they see eliminating paper and providing clients with proposals and information electronically, so that they can review it on their tablets, as well.
  • Agents in commercial lines interviews have to understand the risks facing particular industries and convince their prospect that they have the solution to manage their exposures and solve their problems. Agents would like to have access to risk management checklists by industry on their tablets for preparation purposes, as well as access to the industry specific supplemental apps required by their carriers, so they can review the additional data they need to collect from the client. They would also like to have access to safety manuals that provide the risks that are specific to particular industries (e.g., electrical contractors) and where the losses and accidents are occurring for that industry. They would also like easy access to third party databases that can provide them more information about the prospect and his or her business.
  • Personal lines interviews are typically held to assess or update the prospect’s/client’s insurance needs.
  • Agents typically complete applications and market risks to the carriers back at their offices, but they would like to have interview worksheets on their tablets so they can easily record discussed information during the interview. Apps that allow them to take needed property data to ascertain replacement costs would be another example, or apps that collect the info needed to determine if the risk meets the agency’s minimum risk criteria.
  • Agents think the continued evolution of voice recognition on mobile devices will drive more and more usage of the devices, to send notes to themselves or CSRs, to create an appointment or reminder in Outlook and to integrate with their agency management system.
  • Agents would like an app that allows them to easily take a text message and send it to their agency management system.
  • Agents would like their apps to be seamless with their agency management system.
  • Clients are increasingly using Skype from the road to stay in touch, so agents will increasingly be using the Skype mobile apps to communicate with these clients.

Additional Work Group Discussion Points Regarding Agent Apps

  • Mobile devices enable the mobile and paperless agent/producer.  The industry needs to map out the workflow for the mobile producer and how the data and images the agent produces in the field on mobile devices are integrated into the agency’s systems.
  • In the field, agents/ producers need to be able to access information on their mobile devices from multiple sources:
    -- their agency (prospect qualification criteria and form, ACORD forms, tools to collect needed data for agency to quote risk, etc.)
    -- their agency management system and comparative rater
    -- their carriers (policy, billing, claims and loss run inquiries, policy coverage enhancements, billing plans, available endorsements, loss control checklists, etc.)
    -- third party providers (coverage checklists, statistical loss information based on type of risk, property data gathering tools, flood map overlays on Google maps, ISO property data, Google maps with street view, etc.)
  • Agents also should have presentation tools for their tablets to enhance their client discussions that sell the services and “value add” of the agency and the particular carriers and policies they are selling.
  • In addition, agents want mobile tools that allow them to capture the client’s signature on ACORD forms and other electronic documents while with the client.
  • Mobile agents, of course, then need to be able to transmit data and images created on mobile devices back to the agency in a manner that integrates into the agency’s workflows and systems.  They also should be able to transmit data and images back to the carrier, such as when filing a First Notice of Loss or sending pictures, document images, property dimensions or other data to an underwriter.
  • Evernote was suggested as a tool to enable agents to synchronize a lot of information in the cloud, including web pages, pictures, documents, etc., password protect it and even share it with designated individuals back in the agency.  
  • It was recommended that the work group evaluate and categorize a whole series of available third party apps that might be useful to the agent working in a mobile environment.  Examples would be the flood map overlays on Google, Evernote, etc.

Key Client Needs for Information from their Mobile Devices

  • Ability to access their documents, create insurance cards and simple certificates, file info and pictures to get claims started, access lists of recommended body shops.
  • An app that make it easy for them to contact the agent in the manner preferred by the client. 

Additional Work Group Discussion Points Regarding Client Apps

  • Should be kept simple so that the consumer can complete the action quickly and has the best experience possible. Apps should make it easier for the consumer to find the information they need without having to navigate through a website to find it. A provider may provide multiple apps each designed for different purposes.
  • Important to enable customers to be able to access their policy information through their mobile devices. How do agents place this policy information in a secure online place for clients to access?
  • Apps should enable easy sharing of the agency’s social media posts.
  • Apps should encourage and assist clients in performing an account review and notifying their agents when they have changes or questions. The app, for example, can contain coverage checklists.
  • What are some creative ways in which apps can be used to capture the client’s up-to-date email addresses?
  • How do agents integrate their client apps with the rest of their agency systems?
  • How do we make it easy for the client to make a payment after receiving a text message or an email on their mobile device that a payment is due?
  • Agents are recording short videos on YouTube to provide coverage explanations and other consumer/business information and are then making them easily accessible on their websites and apps.
  • Agents will need to make their apps available on multiple platforms (iOS & Android) and suitable for smart phones and tablets.
  • Apps are starting to appear to further safe driving, either by disabling texting while driving or creating a game which rewards safe driving, taking advantage of mobile’s GPS capabilities.
  • Some of the additional opportunity areas for client apps: ID cards and certificates; what to do in the event of an accident; reporting the accident and sending a picture; roadside assistance; preferred service providers if there is a claim; tool to create a home inventory; sending a question to or reporting a change to the agency; quick dial to call agency.
  • As QR Codes and bar codes become more available on new vehicles, how do we enable clients to capture these codes on their mobile devices and transmit them to the agency, so that the agent does not have to re-enter all of the new vehicle information directly into his/her system?

Industry Issues for Discussion

  • Agents would like ACT to provide a resource to help them to ascertain the current apps that could help them in their work.
  • Should ACORD develop standardized interview worksheets that the various vendors can incorporate in mobile apps that then integrate with the agency management systems?
  • A lot of the app capability agents seek requires multi-party transactions in order to access info from carriers – mobile device to agency management system or other vendor to the carrier. The use of federated identities to replace individual ids and passwords as being pursued by the industry’s new ID Federation could facilitate these multiple party transactions. 
  • Need for the insurance apps that are created to encrypt the client data being collected and transmitted.

Appendix
Important Capabilities of Mobile Devices

  • Internet connectio
  • Available for use anywhere (e.g., at location of the risk)
  • Access to information in the field (e.g., risk related data from agency, carrier & third parties); risk management info; carrier coverage enhancements
  • On site data gathering tool
  • GPS (e.g., location specific information)
  • Camera – still & video
  • Text, email & social media access
  • QR Code capabilities & bar code scanning

Framework for Discussion of Mobile’s Potential Impact on Insurance Processes
I. Servicing
a. Policy information and access
i. Customer self service
b. Form processing
i. ID Cards
ii. Certificates
c. Endorsement
d. Account Evaluation
 
II. Sales
a. Marketing/Branding/PR
i. On-line presence (website, social media, cloud)
ii. Accessibility - Devices
iii. Awareness
iv. Education and resources
v. Promotion
vi. Apps
b. Prospecting
i. Business Intelligence
1. Identification
2. Analyze
3. Evaluate
ii. Location based (foursquare)
c. Presentation to Client & Data Gathering
d. Quoting
i. Comparative
ii. Choice
e. Application
i. Completion
1. Signatures
2. Data
3. Credit Reports
ii. Submission
iii. Agent—Underwriter interactions
f. Proposal
i. Creation
ii. Presentation
iii. Acceptance
g. Billing
i. Invoicing
ii. Billing
iii. Payment

III. Claims
a. Document
b. Reporting
c. Submission
d. Tracking
e. Settlement
IV. Risk Management
a. Best Practices
b. Trusted Advisor
c. Resources
d. Business Intelligence
V. Accounting
VI. Audits
VII. Renewal
a. Review
b. Evaluation
c. Re-submission
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