Esurance Auto Insurance Claims Go Mobile with Photo App

A new feature on the mobile smartphone application for Esurance customers will allow them to “settle claims quickly and conveniently” with a photo-based process that nixes the need for face-to-face claims appraisals.

The feature, announced Thursday, is currently available on iPhones and will be available on Android operating systems in the next 90 days, according to the insurer.

According to the insurer, an Esurance policyholder can use his or her mobile app to file a claim—then, the new features kick in. Using a smartphone’s camera, the policyholder can snap a shot of the vehicle damage, the vehicle’s identification number and submit it via the application to an Esurance claims representative.

An Esurance claims appraiser will then contact the policyholder to discuss further options, with no “in-person” visits required.

“By streamlining the claims process, this time-saving app helps busy, on-the-go Esurance customers return to their daily lives,” the insurer said in a statement.

Also, claims-related damages can be “wired directly” to a policyholder’s bank account at the end of the claims process, although mailed checks are still available as an option.

Features already offered through the Esurance mobile app include electronic proof of insurance and RepairView, which allows motorists to observe photos of their vehicle throughout the repairs process.

When the original Esurance mobile app was introduced years ago, John Swigart, its chief marketing officer, said it showed that “the mobile market continues to evolve.”

“Consumers are seeking innovative ways to shop for and manage their auto insurance needs,” he said at the time.

Nationwide, mishandling of the claims process generates the highest number of complaints from consumers, according to the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which showed that claim delays was the leading reason for complaints, followed by claim denials and settlement offers the policyholder believes is unsatisfactory.

Insurers’ Apps Make Maximum Use of Smartphone Features

Esurance, bought out by Allstate in 2011, was marked at the time as the Allstate’s bid to advance itself as a forward-looking company in the heavily competitive insurance arena.

The direct-to-consumer company has billed itself as “insurance for the modern world.”

Since the buyout, Esurance has strived to fulfill that reputation with developments in its mobile and smartphone offering.

Last month, the insurer announced that it was partnering with Cellcontrol to offer the company’s anti-texting application for free to Esurance policyholders.

The Cellcontrol application is primarily used by parents to limit young drivers’ smartphone usage by shutting off certain smartphone features like texting and calling. Such applications are gaining popularity as traffic safety groups and insurers grow increasingly wary of ‘webbing’ and use of electronic devices that they say is encouraging distracted driving.

But Esurance isn’t the only major insurer with plans to put more of itself on your smartphone.

State Farm announced this month that it is beta-testing a mobile app called RightLane that measures driving behavior, a phase presumably to be followed with a usage-based insurance (UBI) program that is completely contained on a smartphone.

Currently, the insurer is behind Drive Safe & Save, which offers discounts based on driving behavior but requires the policyholder to utilize an in-car system and a non-mobile, web-based program that isn’t available on smartphones.

Drivers insured with Allstate who are already users of the major insurer’s UBI program, Drivewise, can also go mobile with a new application. Allstate rolled out the application last month, when it began allowing policyholders to check their Drivewise accounts on their smartphones so that driving behavior could be tracked in “near real-time.”

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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