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Personal Lines Claims

Claims: There's an App for That, or Is There?

Elise Farnham | July 7, 2012

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Hand with different kinds  of technology coming out of it

The digital world is encroaching on the insurance world more and more every day. With companies working hard to do more with less, there are real opportunities and rewards to be reaped by harnessing mobile power. The first logical steps involve putting more power in the hands of the consumer, followed by development of integrated mobile phone applications to make the adjustment process more streamlined.

Initially, insurance companies focused on the distribution aspects of their products designed for the mobile digital world. However, insurance companies have now moved their focus to the claims process and developed apps that can assist an insured in reporting a claim, uploading a photo, and submitting an estimate. The insured is immediately informed as to the name and contact information for the assigned adjuster and can track activity on the claim. This knowledge allows the insured to track activity without the necessity of calling the adjuster and making inquiries.

Since most people always have their phones with them and available, these applications for the insureds should prove to be valuable tools when catastrophes strike—provided connectivity to a cell tower is available. Empowering insureds to submit documentation that can be integrated into the claim file will be a big assistance in processing more claims more quickly.

Claims Adjuster View

But what about the adjusters? What sort of mobile apps are available to assist them in more efficiently processing claims? Or, is that really necessary since so much of the claims process is handled from the office—are mobile apps a "nice to have" as opposed to a "need to have" in order to reap any benefits?

For the office adjuster, mobile apps may not prove to be beneficial or helpful at this point. Using a more powerful desk computer will speed processing. However, if the office is located in a catastrophe-prone area and is struck by catastrophe, mobile applications will allow the adjuster to continue working off-site. Mobile apps are being developed at lightning speed, while new desktop computer software is much slower to develop.

Since there doesn't seem to be much out there yet to assist the adjuster, I thought it would be helpful to develop a wish list of apps that could be used by the adjuster to more efficiently and effectively resolve claims. For the outside adjuster who is investigating claims, here are some ideas for apps:

  • When the adjuster enters the claim number, his or her smart phone will display a map and navigation to the residence and display policy information, as well as any photos or estimates submitted by the insured.
  • At the residence, the adjuster could take a photo of a matrix bar code at the front of the residence and obtain underwriting and architectural information on the residence, such as room measurements, construction materials, etc. No need to measure the rooms—the information is stored in the computer and retrievable at the site. Underwriting information would include a report on prior losses at the address.

    bar code image
  • Consider an estimating application that can compare the estimate obtained from the insured with information contained in the matrix bar code and highlight discrepancies for negotiation with the insured and contractor. This app would allow the adjuster to take photos of contested repair areas and provide alternatives for resolving the discrepancies.
  • An app that allows the insured to submit a digitized signature on a proof of loss would be great, with an enhancement to issue a direct deposit into the insured's bank account if the loss is small or to the mortgage company for larger losses, making check issuance unnecessary and preventing any delay between submission of the proof and payment of the loss.
  • Also helpful would be an app that connects to available salvors so that potential recovery can be ascertained quickly, payment processed directly to the insurer, and salvaged property disbursed immediately.
  • For independent adjusters, an app that would automatically invoice the insurer for the work completed would be a godsend, allowing direct deposit of the payment.

These are just a few ideas for apps that could make the work of the adjuster more streamlined, efficient, and economical. Let's hope this future arrives soon!

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