Apps of insurers 2011 & today

German insurers answer the increasing technological affinity of their customers by a broad range of apps. But for which app will these finally settle and why?

This story is also available in German.

In order to relate the content and the success of apps in the insurance industry we’ve been observing not just local (German) but international top insurers since 2011. The offerings of US insurers are most interesting though due to their incredible willingness for innovation and the associated learning curve.

The USA are years ahead of Germany

Looking at the app market today there’s a myriad of apps from each big German insurer. Allianz and AXA for example are represented in the Apple App Store with a respectable number of 160 apps combined. The offering is as versatile as it can possibly be: apps for premium calculation, apps for claim reporting, apps for safe driving, apps for moving/relocating and many more.

What’s missing is a unified digital strategy and that’s what the customers can also feel. A person who wants to use an insurance app first has to find the relevant one for the task at hand, then has to try it out and most importantly has to understand it. These days nobody’s got time for that anymore and in addition the disappointment after installing the first app is often big: outdated, confusing, totally inconvenient or it’s simply not what that person was looking for. This is often caused by the insurers’ sluggish processes, overstated data privacy (a very German problem) and a poor understanding of how people interact with technology.

We‘ve observed a similar situation in the US market in 2011: numerous features distributed across dozens of apps — from fun & pastime all the way to claims reporting, everything was present and isolated in distinct apps.

Since then these insurers have worked hard on solutions to that fragmentation and their lack of a clear direction. Through their courage for innovation and rapid ongoing iteration they’ve finally found their way onto the smartphones of their customers. The number of isolated and often useless apps per insurer dropped significantly and the development resources now lie where they’re needed: understanding how technology affects their customers’ everyday lives and how they can enrich these by creating lasting value.

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Paragon GEICO

Today’s app store presence of GEICO, a US insurer, is a prime example for a successful all-in-one app strategy. By reducing their collection of apps and isolated campaigns to just a single central app GEICO Mobile has become one of the most widely used apps in the insurance industry with approx. 15 million downloads.

Central apps with core functionality like claim reporting, contract management, medical billing and so on — briefly speaking all relevant information and features around your own policies within a single app — are considerably well-received. For customers added value and convenience are the crucial criteria for the acceptance of new digital content.

From a strategical perspective the digital offerings of US insurers like GEICO rely on binding their existing customers instead of trying to win new ones. The recent years have clearly shown that there’s barely a bigger challenge than getting people to find, install and regularly use your app. Activating existing customers bypasses most hurdles: Customers can easily be made aware of the app — ideally by a clear emphasis on added value which is most relevant to the customer in that particular moment. In addition insurers know their own customers a lot better than any other potential audience which makes developing features for their customers a lot simpler.

Consumers have spoken: By and large, they prefer to manage their lives through apps. For many industries, apps are increasingly becoming a must-have.
 — AppAnnie

However bundling their resources in a single app instead of building distinct apps in independent projects doesn’t slow down GEICO’s pace of innovation as one might expect. As early as January 2017 for example they’ve already extended their app by an AI-based virtual assistant and by doing so they’ve picked up two hot topics which only now got relevant in Germany and are still in the early stages there.

Long forgotten campaigns like GEICO’s Caveman Photo Crasher in 2011 which were supposed to acquire new customers by the emotionalization of insurance products are rarely to be found anymore.

The competition is tremendous, the space limited

While you had to compete with “just” 350,000 apps in the Apple App Store back then, today more than 2.2 million apps fight for their place on the smartphone. On average every person has just about 90 apps installed on their smartphone. After subtracting roughly 30 pre-installed apps of the respective platform just 60 more apps are given the chance to become part of people’s everyday life by providing lasting value.

App Research

Below an overview over the apps of the largest US insurers.

2011

2017

App Stores 2011 & today

Researches by Danny Clark, Dennis Kiewning and Lutz Grätz.

Further perspectives

While our observations are focused on how customers of insurers perceive the app market, Mehrdad Piroozram (Venture Capitalist, Partner at InsurTech.VC) covers the current top priorities of InsurTechs:

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