Insurance firms that can – like – move quickly to capitalise on an increasingly mobile and tech-savvy consumer base could gain a huge advantage

This morning’s report that aggregator Confused is working with software house CDL to develop an app for customers to buy insurance from their phones speaks of a wider trend for insurers and distributors to exploit new forms of technology.

Indeed, one could credibly argue that the insurance industry lags way behind in this field, with other retailers having been transacting in this way for years, in some cases.

This will have to change. As consumers get used to looking after all areas of their lives via mobile devices, they will expect the same options from their insurers. And the canny ones will get there first – as Confused and Moneysupermarket are showing.  The technology behind apps is moving fast, and a transaction that could have been too cumbersome or risky to perform online as little as a year ago may be perfectly safe and easy to do so now.

Insurers and distributors will be looking to reap extra benefits from apps too, with some hoping that they will increase customer retention, on the basis that once a customer has downloaded one app for buying insurance, they are less likely bother with another. This speaks of an obvious first-mover advantage.

Marsh offers flooding lifeline

Flooding is set to return to the top of the agenda in a big way next year, as the industry and government attempt to hammer out an agreement before the statement of principles expires in the middle of 2013.

As we revealed in this week’s issue of Insurance Times, Marsh has stepped into the breach, proposing a risk pooling arrangement between insurers that it would administrate and place reinsurance cover for. In a subscriber exclusive, David Blackman sets out the background to the proposal and asks why the government has indicated its interest.