Why Insurers Need to Embrace Innovative Technology, Part 1: Mobile + Cloud = OMG!

Insurers are still struggling with the uncertain future ahead of them. Significant changes to regulations continue to come into effect amidst an economy that has not yet recovered and a marketplace peppered by increasing demands from consumers. It’s a complex atmosphere that’s trying even the strongest of insurance companies. As weaker companies falter, the insurers that remain must be willing to apply new innovations, specifically mobile solutions and cloud computing. Their success – no, their very survival – depends on it. 

Insurers must focus on ways to boost their process efficiency while continuing to attract new customers and extending their relationship with existing policyholders. Mobile solutions and cloud computing help insurers overcome two of these challenges – attracting policyholders and controlling operational costs. They also help insurers achieve their goal of profitable growth.

On their own, each of these two trends is a powerful force. Mobile is exploding – heck, you may even be reading this on a smartphone or tablet. Gartner says sales of mobile devices topped 1.8 billion in 2011. Cloud computing is all the rage in information technology circles today making the days of huge, monolithic, proprietary LAN-based enterprise applications seem numbered, according to a Strategy Analytics study that reports increased cloud spending in 2012.

But, take cloud computing, stir in mobile applications and you’ll get a mixture of capabilities that not only shakes the very foundation of traditional insurance processes, but stands to transform every aspect of the insurance lifecycle.

Producers and carriers alike seek ways to take advantage of mobile communications. The proliferation of smart phones and similar devices places a computer in the pockets of most customers and channel partners. Field personnel often carry multiple mobile devices (phones, laptops and tablets) and expect to use them. As this trend increases, insurers identify more ways to use mobile applications to reduce expenses, provide better service and sell more products. Insurance companies use these devices to allow prospects and customers to obtain quotes, view policies, report claims and ask questions from almost anywhere. While insurers look for ways to use the technology to provide additional value to their customers, technology companies develop solutions to provide increased functionality, meets the industry’s unique security requirements and connect to existing databases.

Tablets are the go-to device for those tasks that are too complex for a smartphone but don’t require the full features of a laptop. Tablets are typically quick to start, highly mobile and perfect for very specific, very repetitive tasks, such as:

  1. Enrollment – Producers capture information and instantly access related documentation; electronic signatures can even be captured and applied to the application directly from a tablet PC.
  2. Field Adjuster – While in the field, claims adjusters access claim files, including loss notices, and capture photos, testimonials, videos or recordings onsite. All are seamlessly saved and uploaded to the customer’s record when connected to the network. Once connected, all documents automatically transition to the appropriate claims adjuster via workflow and required data transitions to line-of-business applications.
  3. Loss Control – Complete loss survey forms and capture information about a structure, including diagrams, pictures or CAD documents. Plot exits and map evacuation plans all while in the field.

For years insurers have been exploring ways to empower field staff and unchain workers from their desktops to interact with one another and work wherever they need to go. In the past, cost often outweighed the benefits, so nothing was pursued. With the arrival of cost-effective, powerful mobile solutions, the time to connect relevant insurance content to smartphones and tablets via some form of cloud – private, public or hybrid – is now.

In Part 2 of Why Insurers Need to Embrace Innovative Technology, we will explore cloud computing’s impact when combined with mobility.

Troy Gross

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