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Allstate updates app allowing inventory-taking via mobile camera

Allstate?s launch of a new version of its Digital Locker free mobile application makes it easier and simpler for users to leverage their smartphone or tablet camera to take inventory of their belongings.

The updated app features faster set-up, easier search and more ways to secure inventory as well as seamless syncing between the Web and mobile devices. It shows how consumers and brands both are growing more comfortable with using or deploying mobile in property and other important matters.

?Users wanted easier item set-up so they could create their Digital Locker in less time,? said Roger Tye, Allstate?s senior director of consumer engagement. ?Through research and feedback we also learned that they wanted simple sorting, viewing and sharing capabilities.?

Assessing value
The app lets users organize personal property by room, category or custom labels, take photos or add pictures directly from their device's photo library and estimate the cost of their items.

Downloaded about 75,000 times following its introduction, the app also provides password-protected online storage, keeping the information safe and accessible from a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Recording the value of possessions.

Having a record of one?s possessions is important should an unfortunate event strike one?s home, experts agree. Yet 90 percent of homeowners have not valued their possessions in years or documented what they have, according to a recent Allstate survey.

Mobile can be useful in providing fast access to information when making a claim is imperative.

Allstate is no stranger to using mobile to engage customers with its insurance products and services.

Consumers are turning to mobile apps in important matters.

In June, the company launched its Drivewise mobile app, which measured driving behavior through smartphones to set insurance discounts.

It also introduced Star Driver, another usage-based app that allowed parents and teens to set limits on where, when and how fast a teen was allowed to drive and alerted parents via text or email if the teen broke the deal.

The Drivewise app, rolled out by the Northbrook, IL-based insurer last year and supported by Android and Apple iOS platforms in 16 states, tapped GPS and other technology to track speed, hard braking, location and time of day. Allstate used the data to calculate a discount for each customer.

Usage-based insurance, in which premium costs are based on type of vehicle used, measured against time, distance, behavior and place, differs from traditional insurance, which rewards safe drivers by lowering premiums. Since the rewards are based on history, it can take a long time for premiums to reflect safer driving patterns.

Growing influence
In other insurance-app news, Progressive Insurance held a contest this year in which more than a dozen app development companies tried to devise systems that could match the accuracy of Progressive's Snapshot measurement tool.

Leveraging the phone camera to take inventory.

As people rely on their mobile devices more, they are using mobile to manage many of their financial relationships. Allstate customers increasingly use mobile for digital auto ID cards, roadside assistance and home inventory along with bill payment, claims, policy management and agent details.

?This is smart, taking into account the ever-growing use of the camera on phones and the ease at which mobile users upload photos,? Jeff Hasen, founder of Gotta Mobilize, said of Allstate?s Digital Locker update. ?It certainly addresses a common problem - we get insurance, then we accumulate more stuff. 

?This enables the policy owner to be current and presumably protected,? he said. ?Insurance is such a service business - this is another example of making life easier, much like we see when a company will drive to a location to see a car that was in a wreck.

?This application is a value-add rather than something else to charge for,? he said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.