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Mobile technology enables real-time transactions and enhanced services

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Mobile technology has played a major role in redefining the relationship between insurance buyers and brokers or agents, observers say.

Mark Layden, chief operating officer of University Park, Ill.-based Applied Systems Inc., a provider of insurance agency management systems, said mobile technology is “the big topic that has kind of come out of nowhere the last couple of years,” and that it is growing at a rate that will rapidly exceed the use of stationary devices.

Emily Cummins, Washington-based director of tax and risk management for the National Rifle Association, said she recently was able to check on a policy through her secure e-portal while hunting in Mongolia.

Waiting to check out information until you get back to the office is “outdated,” said Ms. Cummins, who also is chair of the New York-based Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.'s technology advisory council.

Meanwhile, the move toward technology overall is likely to accelerate. Jim Blaney, Philadelphia-based CEO of capital resources for Willis North America Inc., said the industry already has moved from the quarterly update meetings to monthly conference calls “to what I believe in the future will be real time,” where financial information can be updated via an app.

Five years down the road, customers are going to demand “more sophisticated insurance products that are accessible on their mobile devices,” said Julie Zimmer, Chicago-based vice president for sales and middle-market segment for broker Hub International Inc.

Brokers will be better able to “provide value-added services rather than just what I would call pushing paper from one side of the desk to the other,” said Jackie Hair, executive director of risk management for Ingram Micro Inc. in Santa Ana, Calif.

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