Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Best Apps and Why for Independent Agents

There appears to be little dispute among agents about the importance of going mobile, particularly for younger clients who expect it. What’s in doubt, however, is which mobile applications, or apps, make the most sense for agents to use, both for themselves and their clients.

“Too many agents are buying an app just to say they have one,” says Chris Paradiso of Paradiso Insurance, based in Stafford, Conn. “There are so many poorly developed ones and almost none are designed specifically for insurance agents.”

“An app needs to serve both the agent and client,” he says. “It must deliver value or a client will never add it to his or her smartphone. For us, we want to communicate with our clients, to know who has downloaded it and to make it easier for them to do business with us, such as providing insurance cards and the ability to take photos and start the claims process.”

“Too many agents are buying an app just to say they have one.”

“There are so many poorly developed ones and almost none are designed specifically for insurance agent.”

“My criteria for what makes a good app is simple; does it allow me to accomplish something other than simple information lookup,” says Bruce Cochrane of Renaissance Alliance, a consortium based in Wellesley, Mass. “Mobility to me means productivity, so a good app allows me to do more in less time and conduct business transactions at the push of a button. Simple and intuitive – I don’t have time for a manual.”

Paradiso notes that a good app also contributes directly to an agent’s bottom-line.

“Every day a claim isn’t reported the payout increases, and that affects our income,” he says. “The claims reported through our app can occur within minutes, at most an hour. If we call in a claim, that can take three days.”

Ron Berg, executive director of the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) stressed the need for an app to enhance productivity.

“Carriers have their apps for insureds to file claims and agents have theirs that allow customer access to carriers and limited business transactions,” Berg says. “That’s fine as another iteration of what their websites already offer, but there is a dearth of apps being developed to provide the productivity enhancement sought by agents and consumers.”

Many agree that one app that delivers benefits to both agents and consumers is www.goinsuranceagent.com.

“This app has a great accident data collection and reporting feature that uses many of the features found on a typical smartphone,” says Claudia McClain, founder and owner of McClain Insurance Services of Everett, Wash. “There is also a home inventory option, ability to store dec pages and ID cards.” Some agency management systems can actually download into the app, updating ID cards and decs automatically.

Mobile apps and the importance of mobile-optimizing agency websites was a much-discussed topic at a recent ACT meeting in Tampa, Fla.

“Half of all insurance shoppers start their searches on a smart phone,” Berg says. “If an agency website is not mobile-enabled, two-thirds of them drop off immediately, according to (comScore, 2014). Young agents say their clients rely on the smart phone as a primary means of communication – via app, text, email, and social.”

Last month, ACT also released a report and recommendations from its Customer Experience Work Group. The report includes a listing of mobile apps. (To access the report, visit: www.independentagent.com and then search for ACT Customer Experience Work Group – Recommendations – 2015.)

McClain, who also attended the February conference, said that the consensus among the young agents there focused on the most useful apps, including, in no specific order:
•Evernote (for organizing everything, synching across all platforms, absolutely the top vote getter!) or OneNote
•Hootsuite (for organizing social media)
•Dropbox
•LinkedIn (for contact management)
•Google Maps

Runners up include:
•DocuSign (mobile signatures anywhere)
•Redfin/Zillow (for looking up info on new homes being purchased by clients)
•Amazon (for quick purchase and delivery of office supplies and equipment)
•PdfExpert (document annotation and management

“Apps are a must…for the client and the agent,” says Jason Cass of JDC Insurance Group of Centralia, Ill. “The client will need and demand the ability to gather quotes and the agent will demand it because it is what they need to keep that client.”

This article originally appeared at: www.insurancejournal.com