person taking photo of car after an accident
PHOTO: Piman Khrutmuang

Businesses across verticals have introduced mobile apps as a means to improve customer experience (CX). Each vertical has its own needs, some more specialized than others. Case in point: insurers. Insurance apps are designed to make it simple for customers to apply for or renew policies, make payments, file claims and handle other needs.

However, not all insurance apps are built the same.

According to the Mobiquity Friction Report, developers should consider the following when designing a mobile app for the insurance industry.

What Features Influence Positive Reviews?

Ratings and reviews drive customer downloads, so focus on the features that are most likely to create positive reviews, said Brian Levine, Mobiquity’s vice president of strategy and analytics.

“For example, only a small percentage of your customers will have a claims experience in a given year, but they all need to pay a bill. If you have an app with a 5-star bill pay experience and a 1-star claims experience, you’ll still have a 5-star app with a lot of reviews,” Levine said. “But it won’t work the other way around.”

While the features are important, you still need to optimize your app store page, Levine added.

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Consider SEO to Differentiate the Brand

Most app installs come from searching an app store, so make it easy for customers to find your app, Levine said. Have a single app for your brand or give your other apps names that make the differentiation clear. For example, if a car insurer such as GEICO offered both a self-service app and a driver monitoring app, ideally it would integrate the two and make the interface clear. If that isn't an option, it shouldn't just call them “GEICO” and “GEICO Drive.” If you have auto insurance, they both seem appropriate.

“Using titles, subtitles, meta content, descriptions and icons are probably more important in driving your downloads than the app itself,” Levine added. “Optimize for search before getting into limited use features.”

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Optimize for Infrequent Use

“This isn’t Instagram,” Levine said. “Nobody is using an insurance app every day. At most, customers will open it once a month to pay a bill or look at a policy, but it’s often even less frequent if they have autopay or a different payment schedule.”

Since users won’t open the app often, they can forget about the useful features and miss a bill, policy change or other critical step, Levine added. Insurers should proactively let them know a bill is due or overdue via notification or even that a payment is coming out of autopay in case they need to make sure the funds are in their account associated with the app.

“Claims cause a lot of anxiety, leading people to burden the chat or phone lines for updates,” Levine added. “Use notifications to update them regularly — at least weekly during a claim — even if the update isn’t a change. Letting the customer know that the insurer is still working on it removes some of the burden on that customer. Of course, always empower the customer to opt out of these notifications to also reduce friction should they not want to be notified this way.”

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Ask Yourself: What Purpose Is This App Serving?

“Aiming to create a simple, easy-to-use product is the foundation of good CX,” said Jay Bregman, founder and CEO of on-demand insurance firm Thimble. “You could have an API for a complicated product that requires you to answer difficult, confusing questions — which is the way it works in the traditional insurance industry — or, you could build a slick, three-step application process.

A key part of Thimble’s app is the ability to bind a policy immediately, Bregman added. In insurance, binding means that the coverage is officially active and “bound” to the buyer. This is important for developers to note because, without binding, your app is simply a lead generation channel.

“This is where other insurance apps hit a snag,” Bregman said. “If a customer has to pick up the phone and call an agent to finalize, extend or pause their coverage, what purpose is the app actually serving? Additionally, the customer experience can be tarnished when it migrates outside of the in-app experience and into the hands of a call center.”

Making potential customers jump through hoops to get what they need can lead to their abandoning ship altogether, Bregman added. Good apps remove unnecessary steps to the process, putting users in a position to access coverage quickly so they can focus on what’s most important to them.

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Eliminate Barriers, Keep it Simple

Design your app to make interacting with your business as simple as possible, advised Brian Dechesare, founder of Breaking Into Wall Street. “Some insurers want to build extra barriers between their customers and claims, which is a terrible business move in the long-run. It's very shady behavior that will undoubtedly alienate customers.” 

Dechesare also recommended ensuring that the current "claims under review" page extremely clear, using simple language and red, yellow, and green colors to improve the user's understanding of the process.

Making the log-in button brightly colored and clearly visible is crucial for UX, as well as the button to create a new claim, according to Dechesare. “Make drop-down menus or autofill fields that help the user to fill out their claims with as few errors as possible, to greatly increase the success of an e-claim's approval, without the need of costly phone calls and time wasted by both users and employees.”