Your 2015 Mobile Insurance Resolution? Align Your Mobile Insurance Strategic Plan With Changing Market Realities

Like most of us, you probably made a few resolutions you’re hoping to keep in 2015—eating better, exercising regularly, and  reading more.  Why not add one more resolution that will help you, your company and more importantly, your customers and agents?  Keep your mobile insurance strategy current with new technology; customer, employee, and partner expectations;  and pressures that are coming from competitors and more importantly, non-insurance competitors.   Because one thing’s for sure—the pace of change in mobile and insurance is crazy, as evidenced by all the new examples of mobile insurance innovation that we uncovered while writing our soon-to-be published update of our 2012 report,  “The Future Of Insurance Is Mobile”.

Need some help in updating your mobile strategic plan? Earlier this week, we published a major update to the Strategic Plan chapter in Forrester’s  Mobile Insurance Playbook. The report, “Get Mobile Insurance Strategy Right By Designing For Customers' Mobile Moments”, answers two essential questions: How do we build a strategic plan, and what should be in that strategy?  It also provides a framework for the plan that encompasses four processes:

  1. Identify mobile moments and context.
  2. Design the mobile engagement.
  3. Engineer processes, platforms, and people for mobile.
  4. Analyze results to monitor performance and optimize outcomes.
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Is Google Buying CoverHound? The Curious Case Of The California Insurance License

It’s one of the worst-kept—and surely most disruptive—secrets in the US insurance market.  Soon, Google could be piloting its Google Compare auto insurance comparison shopping site in the US, following the lead of  its 2012 Google Compare UK site roll out. 

But the launch of Google Compare in the US apparently hasn’t been easy.  Even though insurers have been mentioning Google overtures to participate on the comparison site to me for more than two years now, the Google Compare US site launch keeps getting pushed back.  As late as last month the site was expected to launch in California, to be followed in Q1 2015 with likely launches in  Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Last I heard was that California pilot wouldn't begin until sometime in Q1.

And one thing’s for sure:  Google Compare is going to have big implications for US insurers.  While doing the research for a report on what Google Compare is going to mean for insurer strategies in 2015, I took a look at a bunch of state insurance commission filings to see just what was up with the entity now officially doing business as Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc.  What did I learn?

  • They’re licensed to business in more than half the states.  Along with California, the entity is licensed to do business in at least Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. There may be more in process.
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If Santa Left You A Mobile Insurance App/Site Budget, Do You Know Where And How To Spend It?

With the holidays—and a whole lot of 2015 strategic planning activities—behind us, you’re probably have a few gifts you’d like to return and hopefully, a few gift cards you’d like to make use of. If you were really good last year,Santa left you the budget needed to develop or enhance that mobile insurance app or site you’ve wanted.  

But how do you spend that budget so that the app or site that results doesn’t disappoint like those sea monkeys or x-ray glasses that you also once wanted?

It’s not hard to uncover this kind of disappointment in the mobile insurance marketplace:  Mobile services that are little more than insurer bill boards, require too much data entry from users, and lack features that users have come to expect from banks, retailers, and airlines.  To play catch- up with competitors and quell internal political concerns, many insurance eBusiness and technology management teams were put on the spot, rolling out mobile functionality without considering if it solved a problem for customers. While this approach addressed the business urgency, these hastily -built mobile insurance apps often fell short.

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Mobile Measurement Isn’t Keeping Up With Mobile’s Importance To Insurance Business Performance

The wild west of mobile in insurance is getting tamed.  Mobile is no longer just a fun experiment—it’s now a crucial element in the customer and agent experience. We first published our mobile insurance metrics report in August of 2013.  At the time, we were struck by how dependent insurers were on a single metric to prove their mobile success:  Application downloads. 

With 15 more months of mobile development chops under their belts, in November, we decided to take a look at how much more sophisticated mobile insurance strategists had become in their mobile performance measurement strategies.  The answer?  Unlike other industries where mobile metrics have grown up, insurers remain stuck in mobile adolescence.  How do we know? Because topping the mobile insurance metrics list in 2014 are web traffic and app downloads.  Fewer insurers are tracking metrics that measure real business outcomes like conversions and mobile revenue transactions.

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Insurers Will Pour Capital Into New Digital Innovation Ventures In 2015

Think that insurance is a sleepy industry? Think again.  In 2014, global insurance companies raced to out-innovate each other. They turned to new digital innovations to fend off threats from insurance start-ups like MetroMile and PolicyGenius and sorted out new ways to remain relevant as a host of well-known brands like Google and AT&T crept into realms historically owned by insurance firms.   We noted this innovation urgency among European and North American insurance firms earlier this year.

In casting an eye forward, we predicted seven events that would change the insurance landscape in 2015. A major force informing all seven predictions is the fact that smart insurers are recognizing that in the need to generate more good ideas faster, they have to radically change how they develop and execute new thinking. That means that insurers need to short cut the industry’s traditional “we’ll build and control” culture and instead go into the market, spot a hot business technology start-up that brings a lot of what’s needed to create a minimum viable product, and partner with them. And the smartest of the smart insurers are employing two unique industry forces—a very regular flow of premiums and the dynamics of equity markets— to get even closer to the source of new ideas:  By investing in them. In 2015, we’ll see more insurance venture capital startups form in the wake of similar VC business launches from insurers like American Family, AXA, MassMutual, and Transamerica.

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Why Usage-Based Car Insurers Need Don Draper

Don’t you hate when a company advertises a product but fails to make it easy to find and buy?

Mad Men’s Don Draper, who, in the 1960’s could have been as likely to work in insurance as advertising (but the story would have been not nearly so interesting), would have a field day with the findings from Forrester’s just published report, “The Next Act For Usage-Based Car Insurance”, the first in a four-report series addressing the UBI landscape in the US, Canada,and Europe and the future of UBI. 

Smart devices, smartphones, and smart cars are converging to create what should be a smart insurance choice for safe drivers and their insurers. The report examines American consumer interest and adoption of usage-based car insurance and the obstacles to purchase, many of which point directly to insurance eBusiness failings.

When Forrester last looked at the UBI market in 2008 (then termed “Pay As You Drive” or PAYD), consumers couldn’t get it because of a big distribution problem:  It was offered by few insurers in just a few states.  A couple of months ago, we decided to see just what had changed over the past five or so years when it came to consumer interest and purchase.  What did we learn?

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As US Health Plans Shift From Acquisition-Ready To Retention-Ready, It’s Time To Pay Attention To Digital Billing And Payments

One word describes the state of US health plan digital strategists at the end of 2013: exhausted! The October 1, 2013 open enrollment milestone for the public exchanges became not an event but an epic saga. Integration failures, wobbly deadlines, and substandard policies that became the walking dead stymied large numbers of potential plan buyers, who either gave up or stood on the sidelines. But through a lot of persistence, 8 million Americans had managed to enroll in the public exchanges by mid-April 2014.

But with the enrollment process behind them, these tired digital strategists can’t rest. It’s time to shift attention from getting customers to keeping them. And not surprisingly, what matters to consumers when it comes to picking health plans is whether their doctors are “in-network”. But other practical aspects of the health insurance experience also matter, like:

  1. Ease of resolving problems. When it comes to handling the nit-natty issues of plan maintenance issues like claims and payments, consumers want easy. That means that health plans have to make it easy for them to view their payment history, get their individual plan bills paid, monitor claims status, and access statements and tax documents online and increasingly through a plan’s mobile site, especially for that critical “young and healthy” segment.  
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Usage-Based Insurance Onboarding: It's All In The Packaging

Alright, I admit it.  I'm not necessarily the most loyal insurance customer.  I like mixing things up to test out different experiences, which means that if you're my insurance company, I'm going to talk about you in my job...a lot.  

Back in 2012 when I was writing the US Secure Auto  Insurance Site Rankings report, I changed my car insurance to Progressive (so underwhelmed was I by their predecessor, I can't remember the name of the insurer, just that I got from my agent).  And I not only changed to Progressive, I also switched from a traditional auto policy to the company's usage-based insurance coverage, SnapShot.  

A few days after signing up, I was surprised to get this box in the mail--note the SnapShot logo on the packaging tape (and trust me that there's a Progressive logo on both ends of the box).  Best of all, there was a compelling call to action on the box:  "Plug In Today!"

                                                                    

And inside the shipping container?  This smaller box, about the size of...the box an engagement ring might come in.  Oh my!  I felt like I was about to go with Flo on a Thelma and Louise-like adventure, assuming that we'd be safer drivers than they were, at least when the movie ended. 

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The Age Of The Customer Drives North American Insurers To Take Five Customer Actions In 2014

Once upon a time, insurers sat in the power seat when it came to their interactions with policyholders.  The insurers understood the magic behind how insurance was sold, how premiums were calculated, and how claims were adjudicated. Those days are gone. In the Age Of The Customer, consumers are changing the rules and who wield the power. Thanks to all things digital, consumers have shifted from being passive sideliners and are willing — and able — to play more active and demanding roles across the insurance business. That means that digital must now be a core underpinning of an insurer’s customer experience philosophy, not an endpoint.

Just what are the factors propelling North American insurer agendas this year? For starters, it’s about:

  • Booming growth in revenues and profits. 2013 was a very good year for most North American insurers --the best since the financial crisis. Many are sitting on hefty policyholder surpluses and capital.
  • The fallout from HealthCare.gov. Balancing political winds with project management reality heaped more pressure on already stressed health plans, thanks to shifting deadlines, relaxed employer mandates, and zombie health plans. And as a result, trust across the broad healthcare ecosystem was undermined.
  • The risk of emerging insurers to meet the needs of digitally empowered consumers. Consumers are getting being trained to expect even more from their digital interactions. New insurers are coming to market offering new digital experiences that simplify, personalize, empower, and reassure customers.
  • Extreme weather. US and Canadian insurers have shifted to a posture of adaptation, and are looking to arm policyholders with new tools to better protect them from natural hazard risks.
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Differentiating On The Claims Experience: Why Better Claims Handling Results In Higher Customer Loyalty And Lower Costs

For consumers, there are two key insurance moments:  when coverage is bought and then when it’s used, with hopefully a long span of time between the two.  And if there is a claim, then it’s up to the insurer to react to help the claimant recover.  But too often, the claims experience spurs policyholders to consider changing insurers, especially among policyholders who’ve been customers longer (and have been paying premiums longer).[i]  What else happens when there’s a policyholder unhappy about a claim?  Claimants readily take to social bully pulpits with their claims grievances, effectively using Twitter and Facebook to “regulate” insurers into action. 

In addition, they also file complaints with state insurance regulators, an activity that about 34,000 US consumers did in 2013.What’s their biggest gripe?  A look at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) stats reveals that 56% of consumer complaints filed in 2013 were issues related to claims handling, with the biggest chunk, 24%, because of perceived delays. And that’s not counting delays associated with getting referrals, pre-authorizations, and finding willing providers.[ii]

Over the past year, I’ve been involved in a variety of client advisories focused on the claims experience for both consumers as well as insurer work teams responsible for getting claims paid.   Why is the claim experience so easy to go off track?  For starters:

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