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What Makes a Great iPad App for Insurance Agents?

Best practices for creating a great policyholder experience on Apple's iPad are well established throughout the insurance industry. Now insurance organizations are discovering how to create the best applications for their agents and distributors.
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The consumerization of technology is rapidly changing how and where insurance processes take place. Policyholders expect to be able to interact with their insurance carriers on the platforms of their choice, and carriers' employees now want to use their new mobile devices to improve their own productivity. While insurers have largely recognized the first point — mobile policy servicing apps now are seen as table stakes — many carriers only recently have begun to adapt to the new workforce realities.

Michael Babikian, EVP and CMO of Transamerica Brokerage, the distribution arm of the Baltimore-based life insurer, says the demands from agents and producers for iPad sales capabilities have reached a crescendo as the tablet has become more popular. "This seems to be a device that producers are using in front of consumers," he relates. "The number of those devices being used led us to venture into the category."

Improving the Quality of Life Sales

Life insurers have taken the lead in providing robust iPad sales tools for their producers, who benefit greatly from using the device to help consumers understand a product of which they largely are wary. Recent consumer research from the non-profit Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (lifehappens.org) and LIMRA (Windsor, Conn.) found that while a third of survey participants believe they need more life insurance coverage, the overwhelming majority (83 percent ) have not purchased more because they view it as too expensive. Yet when asked how much they expect a policy to cost, consumers indicated a price point more than twice as expensive as a sample policy.

"IPad apps are right now a lot more important for the life side of the business for the distribution channel for producers than they are on the P&C side," says Mark Breading, a partner with Boston-based advisory firm SMA, which published research in February indicating that distribution is the leading driver of mobile investment among insurers. "On the life side, it's a complex business, trying to figure out what the customer really needs and what we are selling them."

Addressing this challenge was core to the development strategy for Transamerica's iPad app, the company's Babikian says. "It gets back to a lot of that financial literacy -- a lot of consumers today are feeling the pain of the economy and the safety nets that have gone away," he comments. "We've embedded into the app itself the concept of income protection. We've done a lot of things in terms of driving out the affordability of the product."

Transamerica's app helps advisers educate prospects about life insurance and much of the purchasing process, including coverage needs analysis and policy quoting, Babikian reports. The app also includes a library of sales materials, and can recall and compare previous quotes if needed.

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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