With more than a century of business in the insurance field, Amica is the oldest mutual insurer of automobiles in the country. The company also offers home, marine, personal umbrella liability and life insurance products. Amica prides itself on exceptional customer service. In fact, J.D. Power and Associates has ranked Amica the highest in customer satisfaction among national auto insurers for 12 years in a row.
More than 17 years ago, Amica recognized that mobile technology could play a vital role in enhancing customer service. Amica was one of the first auto insurers to issue laptops to its staff appraisers. However, due to poor Internet connections, appraisers weren’t always able to upload information while out on the road. So they often had to spend two or three hours each night “babysitting” their laptops, to make sure all the estimates from the day were uploaded properly. In addition, standard business laptops often broke down in the field. Amica employees regularly experienced hard disk failures in large part due to factors such as vehicle vibration, as the laptops were not designed for use on the road.
Move away from business laptops to a rugged solution in order to reduce device failures and improve wireless connectivity.
Vehicle-mounted Panasonic Toughbook® 19s in appraisers’ cars allow for estimates to be taken at customers’ vehicles and uploaded while on the road.
The convertible tablet solution has allowed Amica to complete one to two more claims a day on average and reduce the time it takes for a customer to receive payment by 24 percent.
In addition, Amica was motivated to move away from a pen and paper process to improve communication and efficiencies with auto appraisers, which would in turn get money to customers faster. In 2007, the claims department decided to equip its auto appraisers with offices similar to those used by police officers—with vehicle-mounted laptops.
With a wireless connection, appraisers could write estimates at the site after appraising a vehicle and initiate the upload of the report, which would complete while they were driving to the next customer’s location. Since Amica had experienced numerous failures with regular business laptops, the claims department only considered ruggedized notebook computers. Amica knew the mobile computers would need to be fully functional in and out of the vehicle. In addition, driver safety was a big concern in the instance of a collision with a vehicle-mounted laptop.
Amica identified Panasonic early on as a leader in the rugged notebook space and knew its partners were experienced with vehicle mounting. Toughbook® computers also had a reputation for a low failure rate, which was a strong selling point for Amica. The insurer also valued Panasonic’s commitment to its customers and its platform stability. Since Amica was making a significant investment in vehicle mounts, it also wanted to ensure the laptops would remain compatible with the mounts even with product upgrades over time. Panasonic was also willing to work directly with Amica and its partners to provide a safe and effective solution.
After its experience with business laptops, Amica understood the value of conducting a pilot program to ensure the device would work well in the field and be embraced by its appraisers. Amica selected the Toughbook 18 convertible tablet because of its rugged specifications as well as its ability to be used in standard mode in the vehicle and as a tablet with the customer. For its initial pilot, Amica selected one technical appraiser and one non-technical appraiser. After receiving good feedback from the field, Amica moved forward with a second pilot with 10 appraisers using them for six months. During these pilots, the claims department was able to proactively gather a lot of information about likely situations appraisers would experience in the field and develop ways to address them. After a successful, extensive pilot, Amica felt confident the Toughbook 18 was the right device.
“The Toughbook 18 is also compatible with the estimating software and allows appraisers to attach notes and utilize drop-down menus through the dual-touch screen.”
When Amica was ready to deploy nationally, it arranged a training session on the entire solution. From a security perspective, it was critical for the appraisers to know how to install, lock and disengage the laptop from the vehicle mount. Amica also leveraged the appraisers who participated in the pilot programs to conduct peer-to-peer training and address concerns. While the training was taking place, the mounts were installed in the vehicles, so the appraisers could understand the mounting component, as well.
With appraisers nationwide, Amica worked with reseller, TransCor Information Technologies, for installation and procurement. TransCor coordinated the entire deployment of vehicle mounts nationally. Amica also partnered with Gamber-Johnson and RAM Mounts for vehicle mounts and trays.
At the end of the rollout, Amica had 50 Toughbook 18s and 19s (the next-generation convertible tablet) with mobile broadband deployed in the field. As a result of the Toughbook implementation, Amica appraisers have been able to handle more work in fewer hours. Average inspections completed in a day went up 27 percent—one to two more claims a day on average. Average cycle times, the amount of time it takes for a customer to receive payment, reduced 24 percent.
“We have been very satisfied with the results of our Toughbook deployment and were able to fully realize our goals within the first two years. Appraisers are able to write estimates at the vehicle site, which has reduced the need for second appointments, thereby improving the appraisers’ efficiency,” said Brown. “After experiencing more than 20 percent failures with business laptops, we only experienced one Toughbook failure in the first two years, a failure rate of 0.02 percent.”
Amica’s customers have also experienced the benefits of the Toughbook deployment, as appraisers are able to conduct estimates with shorter notice and complete them in less time. Customers appreciate the interaction with the appraiser at their vehicle and can see the damage data entered in the estimate via the convertible tablet’s touchscreen. Claims are now settled faster, and customers receive payment faster.
In 2010, Amica refreshed its deployment to upgraded Toughbook 19s with enhanced processors and embedded 3G mobile broadband for better wireless connections. With the original units still operational, Amica was able to donate them to the local police department.