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Sandy Illustrates Need for Better Claims Mobility: Aite's Applebaum

Claims technologists reported dissatisfaction with mobile capabilities before Sandy – and the catastrophe will only highlight the need, says Aite Group's Stephen Applebaum.

P&C claims executives don't find as much support as they would like for customer-centric initiatives, Aite Group reported in a study released the same day that Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey.

In a discussion about the "North American P&C Claims Executives and Claims IT Resources: Playing Shorthanded" report, author and senior analyst Stephen Applebaum tells Insurance & Technology that the response to Sandy will only reinforce the need for insurers to make these investments a priority. For example, if mobile capabilities for agents were more mature across the industry, policyholders could be much farther along in the claims process already instead of having to wait for repairs to infrastructure.

"Insurers are scrambling to equip their agents with support all the mobile equipment they're already using," Applebaum says. "If agents had good mobile solutions working, it would customers get early assistance. But there's not nearly enough solutions out there, and they're not across enough of the staff."

[What are insurers already learning from Sandy response?]

Aite asked 19 P&C claims executives to rank 12 technology areas for satisfaction. Self-service capabilities, both via PC and mobile, were at the bottom along with agent mobile enablement.

"We're going to see that as the Sandy stories come out and the frustration level rises, people are going to be mad, and all these items on the bottom of this list could've helped mitigate that," Applebaum adds.

However, claims executives generally are satisfied with their catastrophe data management capabilities. Applebaum notes, however, that during a major event such as Sandy addressing the claims from it practically takes over the entire business.

"So people with a routine auto claim might end up taking longer than they expect," he explains. "There's an emphasis on cycle time for catastrophe claims that's higher than other claims."

Applebaum also lauded insurers' use of social media monitoring to establish which areas are in the most need of claims support staff. Adding more robust mobility can only help improve insurers' reputation during and after these events, he adds.

"You can push thousands of messages via text and reach large numbers of people with updates and information about shelters, warming centers, places to go with assistance," he says. "It's a multichannel client management approach."

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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