Smart phones are simply amazing tools that if used to their full potential will not just help you communicate easier, but help manage your life. What other device can do this? With the release of the new iPhone 6, I thought it was timely to share some useful apps to help keep you safe and manage critical information, like insurance or claim information, right from your smart phone.
The first app I really like is Mustbin. It is a free secure, app that allows you to store important information and documents on your phone. It can serve as a digital wallet as you can take photos of your credit cards, insurance ID cards or any other card you have in your wallet. You simply open the bin called "Wallet" and take pictures of both the front and back of these cards. This could be extremely helpful if your wallet were stolen. You can quickly call your credit card companies to inform them of a theft or have your insurance ID cards readily available in case of a medical emergency or car accident.
According to Mustbin, the app ensures complete privacy and security as it has "Military-grade AES-256" encryption on every file, document and photo." Unfortunately, it is only available on the iPhone at this time.
Another useful feature of Mustbin in regards to your insurance is the ability to use the bins pre-labeled Home and Auto to store copies of the respective policies in each bin. As the app also allows photos to be stored, we would also recommend that you take photos of every room in your house to be kept in case of a claim. These photos can help trigger your memory of what you owned in case of a large loss. You can also take photos of big-ticket items like perhaps a TV, computer or jewelry. If you also take a photo of the corresponding receipt, you will have much better documentation for an insurance company adjuster if needed.
If you are extremely organized, you could also take photos of receipts of any home or auto repair or maintenance and file them accordingly. As we know, time flies and having a place to quickly store and access data is a great way to know exactly when the furnace was cleaned, roof replaced, driveway sealed, etc. Keeping up on maintenance can greatly reduce the chance of having a claim.
Another great app is Wreck Check. It is an auto accident mobile app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and can guide you through the steps to take following an accident. It can help you determine what information to share when filing an insurance claim.
For example, it is not advised that you show your driver's license to anyone besides emergency personal as it includes your address, which may or may not want to be shared with someone you were just in an accident with. Once you download the application, but before an accident, you can add your vehicles information into the app, as well as your policy number, insurance company and agent name, which can and should be shared with any parties involved.
The app then allows you to "Start a New Report." It will have you select a location, but if you allow the app to use the mapping feature, this information can be automatically filled in (just double check it to ensure accurate). You are then prompted to take photos including the license plates of parties involved, damage to vehicles and property as well as landmarks. Please be sure that if you are taking pictures, you are not putting yourself or others in danger and are well off the road. You can also verbally record a description of the accident.
The best feature of this application is that you can then email this information to yourself, your agent and/or insurance company adjuster. This should not take the place of calling your insurance agent or company to report the initial claim, as you want to ensure the claim is set up and understood; however this is great info to either begin the claims process or use as evidence in the settlement.
Wreck Check is available on iPhones and Androids. You should also keep hard copies of your insurance information available in your car, as well as paper and a pen, in case your phone is not functioning or you are out of range. For a claim form to help you gather complete claim information, download the HPM Car Accident Exchange Form. For more tips on the car insurance claim process, please see a prior blog called "Helpful Car Accident Tips for NH Drivers."
Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation application. It works a lot like Google Maps or any other navigation application, BUT it adjusts more quickly to changes in traffic and weather conditions based on the input of it drivers. This is extremely useful in not only avoiding heavy traffic, but also being aware of upcoming traffic conditions as the app will alert you when there is a "vehicle on shoulder ahead" or "debris reported in road" or "heavy rain reported ahead." Think about how frightening it is to be on the highway and suddenly see a blown-out tire in your lane. Wouldn't you adjust your behavior if you had a warning that something was in the road? You would probably slow down, or perhaps move to the right hand lane so you could use the break-down lane if necessary to avoid hitting the debris.
The caveat to this app is that it does rely on user input to function properly so I do take issue with drivers having to look at and tap their phones when they do see something, thus taking their eyes off the road. That said, it is your option whether you interact with the app or not, so you should only do so if you feel it is safe.
It is amazing to think that just a few years ago, we had filing cabinets to store all our records and maps to figure out where we were going. Times have certainly changed. If you are fortunate enough to have a smart-phone, you should use it to make your life easier, which may include one of these apps. Stay safe.
This material is for informational purposes only. All statements herein are strictly the opinion of the writer and no guarantee is made as to the functionality of the applications. For an actual description of all applications, refer to the developer's website.