Keep watch for these three trends that are poised to make waves in auto insurance throughout the coming year.
I’m sure many remember the days when putting together an automotive claim meant looking up parts pricing in an estimating crash guide, adding up costs with a calculator, and hand-writing a check. The first step toward industry automation came with the addition of bar-coding to the crash guides, which adjusters would use to select the parts they needed to repair or replace, and then submit their selections by hooking up to a telephone line via rubber receiver.
Today, many adjusters in the field still rely on DVDs for parts pricing. However, some estimating software providers have announced that they’re doing away with DVDs in order to direct insurance professionals to their websites. By accessing this kind of information on the web, adjusters can quickly and easily pull the information they need from virtually anywhere. The software providers can ensure that this information is constantly up-to-date and reflects real-time pricing.
That said, by depending solely on web-based information, insurance professionals are now completely reliant on a variety of factors such as a dependable Internet connection, laptops, and battery power. Next year, these features will continue to become even less of an issue as the battery life of the mobile devices we rely on continues to improve and network operators keep bolstering connectivity across the country. Mobility will continue to reshape the insurance industry in 2015. Here’s how:
Efficiency in the field. More insurance companies will roll out mobile devices, including tablets, laptops, and smartphones, to their agents and adjusters in the field. Doing so will allow them to provide more personalized service, as well as reduce processing delays and collaborate more easily with other stakeholders across the industry. Leveraging mobile devices also enables agents to evaluate claims or consult with clients in a variety of environments away from the office. Today’s compact form factors can easily be brought to the scene of an accident or the customer’s home so that information can be pulled up on the spot and the claims process can be significantly expedited.
Consumer control. Expediting of claims is something consumers have long demanded. Dealing with a wreck is bad enough, but having to wait on a check from their insurer for weeks, or even months, can make a bad situation worse. In order to address this issue, insurance providers are giving consumers more control through mobility. Through their smartphones, consumers can file their FNOL from the site of the accident. Many insurers enable this through free apps, which also allow consumers to upload photos and even get paid electronically. More power will be transferred directly to the hands of consumers as a growing number of insurance companies offer apps; communicate with consumers through mobile channels such as social media, text, and email; and issue claims payments via ETF in 2015.
Telematics. With usage-based insurance (UBI), telematics and installed sensors transmit information about customer driving behaviors directly to the insurer. We’ll see more of this technology leveraged in 2015 and beyond as cars become more connected and autonomous technology draws closer. While some opponents have argued that this approach is a Big Brother-style overreach, it’s inevitable that the industry will move in this direction. With fully autonomous vehicles slated to take the road in the next decade or so (or even as early as 2017 according to Sergey Brin), insurance companies are facing uncharted territory when it comes to coverage. The issue of liability among the consumer, automaker, and even the technology provider, is still up in the air when it comes to autonomous technology, but insurance providers will most certainly rely on UBI as a new age of driving draws near.
While it can be difficult to predict anything in today’s technological era, I believe these three trends will continue to reshape the automotive insurance industry in 2015. The common theme among these trends is mobility — both in the traditional sense of the word, as in mobile devices and the services they provide, such as apps, as well as in the sense of how insurance companies are working with their customers. Now, insurers are examining customer behaviors in a mobile sense while customers are actually on the move in their vehicles. As mobility reshapes our world, I’m ready and eager to see its continued impact on automotive insurance in 2015. Are you?