A Canadian insurance company is deploying to its field adjusters a new mobile application designed to speed damage claims and make repair estimates more accurate.

The application includes pen-based software on a tablet PC, a local or wide-area wireless network and a hosted service for data storage and processing, all through an application service provider (ASP). Gore Mutual Insurance of Cambridge, Ontario, found the combination let adjusters spend more time meeting with customers in the field, create estimates quickly and accurately without having to use a keyboard, and then upload the data to the ASP.

The comms choice is still open
Gore has not decided what wireless services to use for connectivity, according to Jamie McDougall, Gore's vice president of claims. The software supports 802.11b wireless LANs (WLAN) and GPRS cellular connections.

The software and the hosted service, dubbed Symbility Mobile Claims, were created by start-up Symbility , which was acquired in 2004 and is now a division of Automated Benefits. Other applications for field claims and estimates require lots of typing and lack an integrated wireless connection to server-based storage, processing and analytical tools, says James Swayze, Symbility's CEO.

Symbility sets up secure access to Symbility.net, works with the customer to deploy the application software on pen-based clients and trains users. Using an ASP, Symbility charges customers $20 per claim, regardless of its size or how long it takes to settle. If outside contractors or independent adjusters "touch" the claim, they pay a one-time $5 fee.

Symbility began offering its software and service in the US this summer.

Gore's adjusters had conducted estimates partly by using a program running on laptops and partly by jotting notes and figures in longhand. "The [user] interface was not as good as Symbility," McDougall says. "What I'd like to do is use my time in the field effectively by entering data on-site and entering it once."