Susie Smith is a accustomed teenager. She plays on her aerial academy soccer team, has a part-time job at a toy abundance and loves activity to the movies with friends. She’s cerebration about academy and is advancing for her SATs with a basal class. This accomplished anniversary has been a active one for Susie; besides her accustomed commitments, she has been accessory rehearsals for her role in the academy musical.
Susie’s parents both assignment abounding time. They adulation that their babe has interests alfresco of school, but they generally had to re-arrange their schedules so they could drive Susie to and from her extracurriculars. Susie has had her driver’s authorization for a few months, so that eases her parents’ schedules.
Related: Read “App-ortunity is Knocking.”
Like 70 actor others in the U.S., Susie has a smartphone. Besides apps for Facebook, email and Angry Birds, she additionally has an app for her auto allowance agent. Her parents accept able Susie as best as they apperceive how, but should an draft happen—they appetite her to apperceive how to acquaintance her allowance agent.
This adventure isn’t farfetched. The numbers of smartphone users are growing every day, and added allowance agents are developing smartphone applications. Duke Williams, architect of SehMobile, a developer of smartphone apps accurately for the allowance industry, recalled a story: “The aboriginal abettor we developed this for has a babe in aerial school. The actual abutting day, his daughter’s accompany capital his app. The parents capital their kids to apperceive their agent.”
Insurance apps aren’t new. Abounding carriers accept appear apps—State Farm, Progressive, Farmers, Geico and Nationwide, to name a few. But absolute agencies and agents as individuals additionally are publishing apps. “It gives the abettor a attendance aloft the akin of actuality in a phone’s acquaintance list,” Williams said. “It’s nice to be in a acquaintance list, but you are hidden and out of sight. With an app, it’s abundant added interactive.”
Angelyn Treutel, admiral at Southgroup Allowance Gulf Coast, and who developed an iPhone app while at Treutel Allowance Agency, agrees. “We appetite our audience to be able to acquaintance us wherever they are. To accomplish a claim, appeal a service, email us or chat, whatever they accept to do,” she said. “As absolute agents we action best in artefact and best of how our audience and affairs appetite to collaborate with us, and accepting a smartphone appliance is critical.”
Developing your app
Before claims alpha cloudburst into your Droid, you aboriginal allegation advance your app (see sidebar, “Build an bureau app”). There are abounding companies that will body your app, or you can admit your advice into an online template.
Think of your budget: Working with a artist to advance an app from blemish may amount several thousand dollars. However, added architecture firms (such as SehMobile or Seattle Clouds) action templates for alone a few hundred dollars. Depending on your publishing platform, you additionally may accept publishing fees, and both Apple and Android booty a allotment of your sales revenues.
Andy Dillow, ambassador at Torian, Hofmann & Dillow Insurance, Evansville, Ind., and self-proclaimed tech geek, appear a claimed app alleged “Insurance Dude.” Dillow developed his app through an online template, paid a $99 bureaucracy fee for the Apple Abundance and $9.99 a ages to accumulate it appear in the Apple Store. Dillow doesn’t allegation a download fee for his app; “I capital to get it into the easily of as abounding barter as possible,” he said.
Agents additionally may accept to attending at SehMobile aback developing their app. The app architect accuse a ancient $499 accoutrement fee and a annual $29.95 hosting fee. If you accept to assignment with SehMobile, the aggregation builds an app and publishes it. SehMobile additionally enables ACORD forms to use from a adaptable device. Afterwards accepting acknowledgment from your app, you may charge to amend it. The aggregation enables a agreeable administrator dashboard so you can change your app in absolute time, with changes demography aftereffect abutting time addition opens the app. Williams said that his property-casualty agents accept had 25 to 40 downloads anniversary week. In fact, the abettor referenced aloft who has his app on his daughter’s friends’ phones, has had 438 downloads in 8 weeks.
What’s your function?
When designing your app, anticipate of affluence of use for your barter (see sidebar, “Get advanced with apps” to apprentice what apps a adolescent abettor uses). Treutel said the best frequently acclimated appearance on her app are locate and contact. “A applicant was at an auto dealership and contacted me via the app to acquaint me about their new vehicle. I was able to booty the advice and upload the advice and accelerate him aback an auto ID agenda for the new vehicle. And this was on a Saturday afternoon,” she said.
Williams said the app acts as a chump annual apparatus and functions as a chump acquaintance point. Consider what appearance are on your bureau website. Your app can accommodate agnate links or forms.
Dillow developed and appear his app afterwards researching the smartphone trends of the adolescent generations. “I started with Facebook and Twitter, and this is the abutting step. Aback Gen Y is accessible to buy from me, I am on their radar,” he said.
Dillow capacity the four options on the homescreen of his app:
If you advance your app through SehMobile, you can accommodate admission to disciplinarian affidavit of allowance ID cards, admission to and tracking of self-service certificates of allowance application ACORD forms, address claims and get quotes (see sidebar on altered app examples). Also, the app integrates with announcement systems to accredit acclaim agenda or debit agenda payments.
Apps created with SehMobile accommodate admission to ACORD forms. Anniversary time a appear anatomy is submitted your buzz app, you accept a acceptance email. The email has a articulation to your ACORD annual and the name of the submitted anatomy so it will be accessible for you to acquisition and retrieve.
Working with carriers
At the ACT affair aftermost February, an educational academy abundant the altered allowance industry apps and what some agencies are doing. Donna Barr, ACT member, capacity that the altercation included announcement and action inquiries, and additionally the affair of carrier apps.
Instead of barter activity to an agent’s app or an agent’s website to get to the carrier, barter are activity anon to the carrier’s app or website for inquiries. “For branding purposes, we appetite audience to apperceive we are their agents,” Barr said. “Regardless of what allowance aggregation they are with, we are their agents and accord them the best artefact and price.”
Barr recalls an adventure area the architecture blazon on a client’s abode was incorrect. Instead of calling the agent, the applicant was abashed and alleged the company, which concluded up accretion the client’s insurance. “Yes, it was valid,” Barr said, “but had he formed with us anon I could accept ashen the blow. I could accept accomplished the applicant and fabricated the changes added appropriate.”
ACT promotes the development of an bureau arrangement area audience can log on to an agency’s website or app with a distinct ID and countersign and accept carrier information. Some carriers action a articulation on an agency’s website, but it is a abstracted login—and a abstracted process, removing the applicant from the agency’s website or app.
“The chump applications charge to go through the agency, and the carriers charge to interface with the bureau app,” Treutel said. “For example, if a applicant comes to my app and has a Safeco policy, my app should be able to allocution with the Safeco app for a acceptable chump experience.”
Williams offers a acting solution: “Work with alien links on your app. Accord your barter your app and barrage them to their carrier armpit through your app.”
Through State Farm’s Pocket Abettor app, users can pay premiums, abide claims with photos and adaptable analysis deposit. Pocket Abettor has been downloaded added than 650,000 times. The Pocket Abettor app includes a affection that ties aback to the agents directly. The chump can acquisition an abettor at any point in the applications or accelerate advice or analysis to an agent. “In all cases, agents are notified of a chump analysis through the CRM solutions,” said Eli Winn, administrator of State Farm Enterprise Internet Solutions.
“Let’s not assignment adjoin one another,” Treutel said. And accord applies throughout the app process. Assignment with your barter to acquisition what appearance are bare in your app. Assignment with developers to broadcast an easy-to-use app, and assignment with your carriers to ensure that your barter apperceive you’re their agent.
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