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470_2762300Historically, the insurance industry has been rooted in paper-based forms that resulted in slow response times, bloated overhead, lost records, and faulty verification. The industry, with many of its organizations led by old school executives, has also been slower to digitize compared to other sectors such as banking, retail, and pharmacy.

However, there are emerging apps that are serving as future templates for the insurance industry. These and similar applications could revolutionize how most policyholders and insurance companies do business.

1. Photo App for Personal Property

As it turns out, camera phones can be a huge asset in an industry where tens of billions are spent on litigation each year.

Filing casualty losses with a home insurer often means long wait times and disputed claims. Policyholders often have a tough time proving which personal properties were destroyed or stolen, and insurance providers faced challenges in verifying claims. In the insurance industry, there’s tons of fraud.

Liberty Mutual’s Home Gallery App leverages the camera function of smartphones and tablets by enabling homeowners to quickly take inventory of their belongings by capturing images.

The Home Gallery app for iPhone and Android has the following features:

  • Take photos of your personal property
  • Catalog each item by room and/or category
  • Add item details or scan item barcode for images and descriptions
  • Capture an item by importing photos from your phone
  • Note purchase price, purchase date and/or take photos of the receipt for each item
  • Track items in multiple properties or homes
  • Quickly browse a gallery of your belongings

Export your inventory as a spreadsheet or PDF for easy sharing or as a back up in case your phone is ever lost or damaged.

The app is available to anyone, whether or not they are a Liberty Mutual customer or not. Aside from insurance claims, this app can help law enforcement and the court system in cases where crime is involved.

2. Snapshot: Scene of Accident

Another innovative app is Snapsheet, which allows drivers and witnesses to capture images of a vehicular accident. What’s the potential impact? Each year, there are nearly 11 million car accidents in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Snapsheet enables drivers and users to upload photos of their damaged vehicles and seek bids from various service providers. The app can be used to get estimates of the damage, and help customers get money for repairs.

In many cases, the app eliminates the need for insurance companies to send an agent. Also, many customers no longer have to take their cars to a repair shop to get an estimate. Snapsheet can have an estimate in under an hour. Drivers can get paid in less than 24 hours.

Snapsheet expects to be doing 300,000 claims a year by the end of 2014. The company processed about 50,000 claims last year.

3. Logging Your Trips

Last but not least, there’s the GoodRide app by Allstate which is designed for motorcycle riders. The mobile application helps riders track their route, time and mileage. It shouldn’t be long until drivers come across similar apps intended for cars and trucks.

This particular app helps motorists prepare for trips so they can plan for fuel stops ahead of time. They can also check local weather along their route.

According to Allstate, the GoodRide app will soon feature a maintenance log to help bike enthusiasts track every oil change and flat tire.

Real-Time Connectivity

As our world becomes digitized, each sector is finding ways to optimize its business processes. The insurance industry is finding ways to leverage camera phones, tablets, the Internet, and other smart devices to gain efficiencies, and help its stakeholders get better results and save money.

  Aside from apps, insurance providers such as Plan Insurance are using integrated databases to provide policyholders, law enforcement, insurers, and related parties with real-time updates of coverage status. For example, the company’s motor insurance database (MID) tracks vehicles insured by motor trade policy, and this database is shared with authorities.

Another interesting innovation is a developer’s ability to transform smartphones into mobile breath analyzer devices that can determine whether a driver can operate his or her vehicle.

Information technology, communication networks, and mobile are converging to give motorists help the moment they need it. Mobile apps and recent innovations could have a huge impact on an industry where U.S. net premiums for 2012 totaled $1.1 trillion, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

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