As our personal and business lives move increasingly into the wireless computing universe, it seems that hardly a day goes by when some new app—short for software application—isn’t announced for virtually any purpose imaginable. But what about the business of insurance? Are there particular apps that have utility for different forms of functionality in the insurance universe? The answer is a resounding “yes.”
Online Storage and Access
According to Durward D. Casteel, a trucking defense attorney with Casteel & Associates LLC, “The apps that I use regularly are Dropbox and GoToMyPC.” The downloadable Dropbox desktop application runs on Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems and gives users access directly through a folder on the hard drive. According to Dropbox.com, using the app is just like using any other folder on your hard drive, except the files you drag into your Dropbox folder automatically sync online and to any other computers or mobile devices linked to your account.
“The application runs in the background and automatically keeps your files synced and backed up online,” says the software provider. “It’s like having the same folder on all of your computers and mobile devices at the same time.”
“Dropbox allows me to place documents in the cloud so that I can review them from my desktop computer, laptop, iPad, or iPhone,” says Casteel. “In addition, I can email a link to another attorney or an adjuster that allows them to access documents that are too large to email.”
GoToMyPC is a service that allows users to work on their Mac or PC from anywhere, and features free apps for iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, and Android devices. Users are able to gain access to their files, network, email, and programs, allowing them to stay productive when traveling and avoid unnecessary trips to the office.
“GoToMyPC allows me to gain access to my desktop while I’m on the road from any other desktop, laptop or iOS device,” notes Casteel.
Casteel also uses CardMunch, a free service from LinkedIn that enables users to take a picture of a business card and have it converted to a business contact automatically.
“The image is sent by the app to CardMunch to be converted to a contact,” Casteel explains. “Once the contact is created, the app allows you to send a LinkedIn request to the new contact.”
Guidewire Chief Technology Officer Ben Brantley points to his own company’s mobile field adjuster app as a useful tool.
“Guidewire has developed a tablet application that allows field loss adjusters to consolidate their work in one, central place and on one device,” he said. “The app allows adjusters to gain access to claims assignments, map the work, navigate to the loss sites, and view relevant claims and policy data, including documents.”
He adds that adjusters can take action on claims, including capturing site data to support estimating, notes, video, and still photography. “They can even issue payments electronically in the field. All of the information is moved between the device and ClaimCenter seamlessly, and the security constraints defined in ClaimCenter are passed through and enforced on the tablet.”
Brantley says that carriers, including Hanover’s large-loss adjusting team, use this app in the field to bring all of the necessary technologies into one streamlined tool and work process.
Peter J. Crosa, AIC, RPA, of Peter J. Crosa & Co. cites a number of apps that are useful to him as a practicing adjuster. “I use them on an iPhone, but they are mostly available for [the Android mobile operating system.]”
Photo2file is an app that enables adjusters to take photos in the field with their mobile devices, number and describe the photos onto a template, and then convert that to a presentable file for a client, he says. “You can email the photo sheet directly from the field to your client.”
According to photo2file.com, “A typical day in the field shouldn’t have to end with a night in the office downloading photos, inserting them into files, and writing descriptions. And, when catastrophe strikes a community, speed is not an option; it’s required if you want to succeed. Photo2File gives you the speed you need to work smarter—just ‘snap’ ‘save’ and ‘send.’ The claim information, photos, and descriptions are sent right from the claim site while you’re on your way to the next claim.”
The Genius Scan app allows users to photograph a document, then convert it to an email compatible format for direct submission to their hard drive or a client, says Crosa. It also enables “easy storage on your mobile device.”
Offered by The Grizzly Labs, the app also enables users to group pages together with multipage PDF documents and to reorganize pages within a document. Quick transfer of documents to the user’s computer via Wi-Fi sharing is also possible, the company says.
Genius Scan users can crop and straighten document pages thanks to the Genius Scan frame auto detection and perspective correction, the software provider notes. Documents can be organized with tags, and tags can be accessed with a tap on the menu. Enhancement features that turn grayish documents into black and white and make color documents look sharper are also available.
Crosa also uses the Record Phone Calls Pro edition app from Blue Square Group LLC, which he says allows users to take a recorded interview from their mobile devices. “Upon completion, it automatically sends an MP3 file to your email for storage or forwarding to a client,” he explains.
Another useful app for Crosa is eFax. When someone sends you a fax, you receive the document as an email attachment, says the provider. “It allows you to receive faxes on your mobile device,” says Crosa. “From there you can print the document or save it to your hard drive. Or you can forward it to another email recipient.”
Weather is obviously an important factor for adjusters, and Crosa reports that he utilizes two separate radar apps for real-time weather reports and radar sweeps over any given geographical area.
Map apps will also be useful. For example, Google Maps for Android shows users where they are and gets them where they want to go. The app includes free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation, whether driving, walking, or taking public transit. Users also can see estimated time to their destination based on live traffic information, says Google.
“I use at least one map app that allows me to see any geographic area in map format or actual satellite format,” adds Crosa.
Preventing Texting and Driving
The dangers and consequences of texting and driving are very real, whether it involves a passenger vehicle or a commercial truck.
That was proven again when, in April, Alexander Heit died in a car crash while composing a text message. The boy’s family and the Colorado police released a picture of the message found on his phone in an effort to help persuade others from texting while driving.
Ann Carvalho, executive general adjuster for McLarens Global Claims Services, presented a list of several apps at CLM’s annual conference last month that can be used to help prevent texting and driving:
SMS Replier: Automatically turns on when it senses a car moving 15 mph or more. Allows users to set up an auto-reply when a text is received.
Drivesafe.ly: Reads texts and emails to you.
IZup: Works with a phone’s GPS. It locks the phone when a vehicle hits a predetermined speed. Parents are notified if GPS is disabled or 911 is dialed.
OneProtect: Similar to SMS Replier and IZup, it disables the phone once a predetermined speed is reached. However, it provides a verification test that passengers must pass before using their phones.