5 ways to improve an insurance app

Google's Head of Industry spills his secrets

You know you’re at an insurance event when the keynote speaker has to explain how Tinder works. The quick answer? Swiping right is all in the thumbs, and consumers want that simplicity in every app, even one for auto insurance. But let’s back up a bit.

Read: Do you ask the questions that lead to sales?

1. Make friends with the thumbs

Canadians increasingly access information on their smartphones, Sanjay Gosalia, Google’s Head of Industry, said Thursday at CSIO’s annual general meeting in Toronto. Currently, 36 percent of auto insurance searches happen on phones, and Google predicts that this time next year, the number will be around 50 percent. So the industry better make sure their websites are ready for the thumbs.

2. Swipe, swipe, baby

First up, that means making sure sites load properly. People are “highly, highly irritated,” Gosalia said, when page load speed isn’t up to snuff, and 57 percent will abandon an insurance site if it doesn’t load within three seconds. He points to Belairdirect’s mobile quote option, which breaks up the application questions into several pages and allows users to swipe left or right when indicating their gender, for instance.

Read: Why you should be texting your customers

3. Don’t let ’em get away

But you don’t want to make consumers click through too many pages or do too much work—the more fields there are to fill out, the more opportunities for “leakage,” or consumer abandonment. So just as Google’s search bar guesses what you’re typing, some apps and mobile sites prepopulate a customer’s city and street name as they fill out the application.

4. Skip social as a source

It’s important, however, not to take prepopulation too far. While working at the credit card company Capital One, Gosalia worked on prefills derived from social media sites, but the idea didn’t take off. Consumers, he found, didn’t want to mix their Facebook-documented personal lives with their financial data—though they were more willing to share information from LinkedIn accounts. And Capital One’s risk team was also wary of the idea, since Facebook stats aren’t always accurate.

5. Talk texty to me

Gosalia also suggests insurance app developers should consider putting chat boxes in mobile sites—it may be a “natural evolution” of smartphone users’ preference for iMessage and SnapChat to actually making a phone call.

What’s the broker’s role?

Gosalia admits direct insurers are more involved right now, but “we’re starting to see signs of brokerages doing the same.” He also points out some insurance companies are recruiting their “top brokers” (his words) who bring “insight from the frontlines” to join them as they develop these apps and mobile-friendly sites.

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