This post wraps up my summary of mobile offerings in the personal lines auto space. In the last post, I looked at accident support as an example of a service that really lends itself to smartphones or tablet devices. However, as previously mentioned:

 Download our report on Carrier Mobile Capabilities in Personal Lines Auto Business
  • Meaningful functionality requires deep integration with core systems.
  • The experience has to be at least as easy and immediate as calling the claims desk.
  • Most Tier 1 carriers aren’t really “there” yet, while coverage in the Tier 2/3 carriers is even spottier.

I’ve also made the case that mobile offerings address two high-level scenarios:

  • Accidents or other losses where a combination of location information, immediate accessibility, and device form factor are critical or
  • Convenience for on-the-go users who are becoming increasingly comfortable with transacting business over their mobile devices.

Our analysis showed that most carriers offer some combination of the following features for on-scene support.

  • First Notification of Loss (FNOL). As discussed in the last blog, the sophistication of this offering varies greatly.
  • Roadside assistance, including access to approved tow operators, garages, etc.
  • Claims status and updates.

When we looked at the convenience offerings from carriers, the following functions are broadly represented:

  • Account overviews, with summaries of coverage, drivers, and costs etc. available in an easily accessible format.
  • Policy management including modifications to drivers, coverage, etc.
  • Links to the agent of record (if one exists)
  • Proof of insurance simulating traditional printed insurance ID cards
  • Bill payment, including balance information, payment plans, and ability to make payments.
  • Quick quoting or similar (non-binding) illustrations.

Once we had compiled the master list of available features, we then dug into the details of the offerings from the ten Tier 1 carriers in our study. At the high level, most of the firms can put a check mark in the majority of the feature areas, though the devil is of course in the details. In addition to the wide range of sophistication that we saw in FNOL support, the depth of functionality in areas like bill payment and policy management is similarly varied. It again becomes obvious that the ability to integrate with core systems is the real differentiator.

In addition to the functional aspects, we looked at how easy it is to find the mobile apps and how heavily carriers are promoting their mobile offerings. This is a good indicator as to the importance they place on this channel. Surprisingly, even some of the carriers that have done a good job building out mobile functionality don’t make it particularly easy to find their apps from their website. However, after a little searching, one can usually find links along with some pretty nice overviews of the features and functionality provided. In addition, carriers have mostly done a pretty good job of building awareness on social media including Facebook and Youtube, for example. The biggest firms are of course touting their mobile capabilities on major media outlets, though not everyone has a flying pig.

Given the above as representative of the current state of mobile offerings for personal lines auto, we then did a detailed analysis of how the Tier 1 carriers stack up. We evaluated each carrier against the master list of features combined with breadth of platform support and the amount of buzz they are generating around their mobile platform and came up with a high-level maturity rating:

  • “Leading” carriers have coverage in all the major areas with solid integration to core systems and a focus on usability that works with the smartphone and tablet interface. They also support multiple platforms and do a good job of building awareness through multiple social media channels.
  • Carriers “In the Pack” have coverage in most of the areas but without the level of integration and functionality as the leaders. They typically support several (though not all) common platforms and may be less aggressive in promoting their mobile offerings.
  • “Lagging” carriers have very limited depth and breadth of functionality. They also (not surprisingly) don’t do much crowing about the limited functions they do offer.

So, who are the leaders? Based on the functionality available in early December 2012 when we concluded our reviews, it looks like Allstate and USAA are in front by a nose. They have the most functional and usable mobile apps with solid integration to core systems. However, the household names “in the pack” include some technology and marketing powerhouses, so I don’t expect this distinction to hold up even in the near term. Meanwhile, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the Tier 2/3 carriers that have already done some nice work emerging as leaders going forward. In fact, we could make a case that Amica Mutual may actually be the overall leader, even when compared with the big firms (we limited our ranking to the Tier 1 because so many of the smaller carriers had no capability). The full ratings for the Tier 1 are in the report you can dowload at the end of this post.

That about wraps up the series on mobility solutions in the personal auto space. It’s been a fun few months. Given the rapid pace of change, I expect that there will be new and interesting developments every day. I’ll keep one eye on this area and provide an update in a quarter or two. Meanwhile, I’ll be moving on to look at other lines of business and apps aimed at agents/brokers as well as internal carrier staff.