Travel insurance providers are increasingly introducing apps
or adding to an existing app's list of features to act as both a differentiator
and a customer service arm in the channel where most consumers want it: their
"We're kind of in an arms race right now with the
mobile apps," said Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz. "The
travel insurers are all trying to beef them up and get them out."
Allianz recently released a new version of its TravelSmart
app with user experience improvements. On the app, travelers can access
policies, file and track claims, track flight statuses and contact Allianz,
among other features.
"Generally, travel insurance providers are looking for
ways to provide additional value to our customers, especially to those
customers who may have a smooth trip and not need to file a claim," Durazo
said. "I think this is one of the levers that's driving app development
for travel insurers. ... We want people to get value out of working with us."
Travel Insured International last month introduced a new
app. In addition to giving users the ability to do things like purchase plans
and file claims, it includes a new service thanks to a partnership with the
company Sitata. The app enables users to get push notifications of any
disruptive events based on their itinerary, as well as health advice, such as
recommended vaccinations or medications, before they leave.
"Consumers are looking for a mobile experience,"
said Isaac Cymrot, vice president of industry relations at Travel Insured.
While many insurers' apps likely offer similar
functionality, Cymrot argued there are differentiators as well. In his company's
case, it's the service provided by Sitata, which has a platform that employs
artificial intelligence to scan large numbers of sources, using data and
algorithms to determine if something is likely to disrupt travel.
Sitata CEO Adam St. John said it can detect anything from
major events, like a terrorist attack, to more local events, like a transit
strike. Humans then review the information and, if warranted, publish trip
alerts to push to users via app notifications and email branded to Travel Insured.
"The next evolution for all of us is to be able to
provide that instantaneous information in their hands, whether it's a simple
travel delay or a more serious incident," Cymrot said. "They want
that instant information in the palm of their hands on their mobile device. The
world is mobile now, and we need to live in that world."