capsule review

Pocket Agent

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Pocket Agent®

    PCWorld Rating

If you have an Android phone and an account with State Farm Insurance, Pocket Agent is a useful app. Pocket Agent performs two basic types of functions: location-based searches and account services. For the former, it uses GPS to find insurance agents, car repair shops, gas stations, hotels, taxis, locksmiths, and rental cars--all potentially useful when you are traveling. This functionality does not require a secure login, or even that you have a State Farm account. The other functionality, which allows you to perform tasks such as filing an insurance claim or viewing your coverage details, is specific to State Farm account holders and requires a secure login.

First, however, you must use a Web browser to visit the State Farm Website and register for online access by entering your account information and choosing a username and password. You must also select three challenge questions and answers. Your login name, password, and challenge questions are very important details for the Android app, so make sure to record them (securely) for later reference.

Returning to the app, you must log in with your username and password. Be sure not to mistype your password, because if you enter it incorrectly (easy to do with a touchscreen keyboard) too many times, it will lock your account and you'll have to call a toll-free number to reactivate it. In my case the call took 10 minutes to complete, and the operator was not amused when I said that I didn't remember my challenge questions. I can just imagine how much fun this would (not) be if you tried to log in to the app with shaking hands to file a claim after an accident.

However, once you are logged in, Pocket Agent puts a lot of information at your fingertips. You can view a virtual copy of your auto insurance card (although unfortunately it isn't a legal substitute for a physical card), view your insurance agent's contact details and dial or e-mail them from the app, or file an auto insurance claim. That's pretty useful stuff.

Too bad it's so easy to lock yourself out of this app, because otherwise I would give it four stars instead of three. Security is generally a good thing, but other considerations (such as the limited accuracy of software keyboards) should also factor into the equation. And does the lockout really need to be so drastic? Wouldn't a wait of, say, 5 minutes be sufficient to thwart a brute-force attack? If the app ends up requiring you to call a toll-free number in order to unlock it, wouldn't you be better off just calling your agent in the first place?

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Pocket Agent®

    PCWorld Rating
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