April 02, 2014

Esurance aims to deliver the comfort of yesteryear's local insurance agent and the convenience and savings of today's electronic communications with an app-based video-claims service inspired by a 1-year-old's birthday party.

Designed for both iPhone and Android phones, the Video Claim app lets Esurance customers submit an automobile claim via video with a specially trained agent, says Joe Laurentino, VP of material damage, who came up with the idea after sharing his granddaughter's birthday party over FaceTime.

"It's a much more emotional involvement from a claim to a birthday party," Laurentino says, "but there's the same sense of comfort when you're dealing with a person. We had been doing things with photos, but photos are a very transactional-based relationship. I do something. You do something. There's no emotional involvement. A photo is great because that's where our society is. But in the insurance experience, you need that sense of comfort that the person on the other end is going to take care of your needs."

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Esurance develops its customer-facing applications internally, in part to tap the expertise of its marketing, IT, and appraisal teams. It then uses "test and learn" to develop and roll out the software quickly, says CIO Elinor MacKinnon.

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