InsuranceQuotes.com review: GEICO offers best auto insurance app
An auto insurance app should be nothing if not practical. Will it let you pay your bill? Will it hold your hand following an auto accident? Will it help you file a claim?
InsuranceQuotes.com conducted an unscientific study of mobile phone apps from the country’s 10 biggest auto insurance companies. We found that most do a lot of things for their customers, and some do it with more bells and whistles than a video game.
Yet none combined wow factor and functionality more than GEICO’s GloveBox app.
If you have a GEICO auto insurance app downloaded on your iPhone or Android-equipped phone, you can view your account, pay all or some of your bill, retrieve your insurance card, or even view step-by-step instructions on how to change a tire or jump-start a battery.
The GEICO app also uses the GPS on your smartphone to help you find nearby towing and gas stations, provides a phone number for emergency roadside assistance, and even entertains you with YouTube videos featuring the ubiquitous Cavemen.
Progressive, Allstate get kudos
In a separate study, New York research company Key Lime Interactive looked at four of the biggest auto insurance carriers and deemed Progressive as having the No. 1 auto insurance app for iPhones and Allstate as having the No. 1 app for Androids. Key Lime Interactive also rated GEICO’s GloveBox and State Farm’s Pocket Agent apps. Additionally, the research company judged the smartphone apps on their ability to provide online insurance quotes.
“Consumers reported that the ability to document accident details, make bill payments, view policy details and get multiple estimates for new quotes are the most important features in an auto insurance mobile app,” says Eugene Santiago, a researcher at Key Lime Interactive.
Santiago adds: “The Progressive iPhone app is a top performer because it offers all these important features plus does an outstanding job of providing multiple estimates, each with coverage information plus an option to name your price.”
|GEICO’s GloveBox app.|
Inside GEICO’s GloveBox
In the InsuranceQuotes.com study, the only gripe about GEICO’s app is that you have to call a GEICO representative or go online to file a claim. But the app makes it easy to prepare your claim by letting you take and store photos of the accident scene; document information about the drivers, vehicles and witnesses; and even retrieve the police report for your accident.
The GEICO app then creates a neat little form for you to email to yourself so that your information is in order when you contact a claims representative. It even provides some quasi-legal advice: “If another party was involved in the accident, do not admit fault, and do not disclose the limits on your policy.”
“As long as your smartphone didn’t cause the accident, you are happy to have it with you,” said John Arrow, president and CEO of Mutual Mobile, a developer of mobile apps. “Consumers are looking for anything that replaces paper, and when you have a formal way to get evidence of what happened, take pictures, get GPS verification of where the accident happened, then it makes the claims process a lot easier when you are haggling with the insurance company.”
GEICO barely edged out Allstate for the best auto insurance app in our informal study. But it’s not because we’re biased toward GEICO’s Cavemen or we don’t like Allstate’s kooky Mayhem character.
Are you in good hands?
Allstate was one of only three auto insurance companies (the others being Nationwide and American Family) among the 10 that we reviewed whose apps contained each of these crucial customer support functions: accident support, starting a claim online, viewing your account or paying your bill.
But while most of the other apps provided phone numbers to important services such as tow trucks and rental car locations, Allstate made you download another app, Good Hands Roadside Assistance, to help you if you experience an overheated engine, a flat tire or an empty gas tank.
The Good Hands Roadside Assistance app works much like AAA without the annual fee — and without the need to be an Allstate customer. Instead, users pay $75 for a tow truck and $50 for most other roadside services. Of course, the Allstate folks hope users of this app remember them the next time those consumers are thinking about switching insurance carriers.
Diamonds and duds
InsuranceQuotes.com’s look at auto insurance apps turned up several other jewels: State Farm Pocket Agent’s interactive accident reconstruction scene, Travelers’ frequently asked questions regarding claims, Farmers Insurance’s videos on how to change a tire and safely drive in the rain, and Nationwide’s “flashlight.”
Key Lime Interactive’s study also highlighted State Farm’s Pocket Agent as a “Best in Class” for its accident reconstruction scene.
A couple of duds also popped up in our study:
• Progressive’s app delivers auto crash test ratings from 1998 to 2005, but when we wanted crash test ratings for a 2002 BMW, we were given information from 2000.
• We could download Liberty Mutual’s app only if an iPhone was equipped with the 4.0 software update.
iPhone apps trump Android, BlackBerry
You didn’t have to be a customer to access most of the apps’ features, such as locating gas stations, taxis or rental cars, or even calling 911. But clearly, the auto insurance companies are new at the app game. The apps we studied are all compatible with the iPhone, but less than half work on an Android or BlackBerry.
“The iPhone is the best proving ground for an app idea,” says Arrow, whose company has developed the Auto Accident Kit app for auto body shops to help simplify the claims process. “It is significantly more expensive to develop an app on a BlackBerry or Android.”
The Key Lime Interactive study judged Allstate, GEICO, Progressive and State Farm on several factors, including whether their apps allowed users to obtain an online quote directly from within their mobile app. It graded Allstate as “Best in Class” in this category, praising the insurance company for, among other things, letting users get a quote without divulging any personal information such as Social Security numbers, addresses or even names.
Apps from these auto insurance companies were reviewed by InsuranceQuotes.com: Allstate, American Family, Farmers, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, Travelers and USAA.