The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) knows Americans like their technology. It can certainly make things faster and easier for all of us. But when it comes to one thing, CFA definitely has an opinion.
That’s apps for your auto insurance company. The app can help a customer jump start the claims process if that customer has an auto accident. The person takes pictures of the damage and uses the app (on their phone for example) to upload the pictures to the company, etc.
“On some of these simpler claims it may be okay because you can take a photograph of very small damage,” says Robert Hunter of Consumer Federation of America.
However, Hunter isn’t enthusiastic about using the app for anything but minimal damage. “The problem is if it becomes complex, it can be very difficult to figure out just from pictures,” says Hunter. “There’s a lot of types of damage that the normal person with a phone doesn’t understand how to determine or to fix.”
Hunter says in many cases, customers should still have the right to request a trained, insurance adjuster. “Your policy includes provisions that they will adjust your claim so an adjuster is part of your benefit,” he told me.
He also says if you use an app, always be aware of what you say to anyone you speak with from the company. “As part of the process they’re going to discuss your claim with you on the phone while you’re using a phone to do a video or photographs and they may be recording that. There are some dangers in making statements on the record before you know everything,” Hunter said.
While CFA believes that convenience is certainly something customers want and that an app may certainly provide that, it is also seeking some clarification from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It plans to ask the group to review the new technology and develop guidelines for its use.