Change is constant. Innovations, new views about the impact of past events and how people should conduct business are in constant flux. This is very true for the insurance business as well.

A recent Insurance Journal article, New Kid on Block Will Use Tech, Rapid Repair Networks to Survive Florida Market, noted how a new Florida insurance startup and its CEO, David Howard, intend to conduct business, the impact of laws have changed the landscape in Florida and even his views on public adjusters.

Any insurance company CEO making a comment in the media regarding public adjusters, is rather unique:

IJ: Public adjusters have become a big issue in Florida. How will Vyrd handle that?

That’s a hard one….I think part of it from my perspective is education. Continued education with the agent and the insured to say, “We will take care of you, fairly, expeditiously, and make you whole quickly.” We’ll be getting our agents to impress upon the insureds that this company is ready to deliver and be out there rapidly. And when they get solicited by an adjuster, know that you’ve been educated ahead of time and that, “my carrier is there for me. I don’t need this public adjuster.” And it’s not just anecdotal: From our last position (at Lighthouse Property Insurance) we saw that, in Florida, we did have a lower rate of public adjusters, AOB and litigation, because of the way we had set up the services network.

I am certain that this quote will be discussed at the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters meeting this week in Destin, Florida. The only way one can say that they have a lower rate is for competitors in the insurance industry to share those claims statistics with each other. In Florida, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation often acts as the purveyor and then distributor of this type of information sharing between competitors. There exists a limited exemption to anti-trust laws allowing insurance companies to share information about monetary losses with through mandated state regulations. Most claims information cannot be shared between insurance competitors.

Howard also noted how technology and the increased use of preferred vendors will be embraced by the new startup:

‘We feel like we have some technologies that we’re going to employ that will allow us to not only detect problems, but to move quicker on the losses, triaging the losses, and getting quicker to paying the claims and making insureds whole quicker,’ Howard said last week.

Vyrd has teamed up with Bolt, an insurtech firm, to provide policyholders with Internet of Things technology that will instantly detect and report water leaks. Vyrd’s adjusters and contractors can then move swiftly to make repairs before damage grows worse – and, perhaps, before public adjusters can calculate major losses.

Vyrd also has signed up an army of roofing contractors and emergency services companies. Once roof damage is detected, software will automatically notify crews, who will swoop in and put tarpaulins on roofs as soon as possible to minimize water damage…

‘We just feel it’s going to be a quicker claims cycle, essentially….That’s the key: mobilizing and attacking an area quickly to protect homes and mitigate further loss. We’re real confident about that approach.’

While I have been very adamant that the Florida legislature passed laws which harm policyholders, the insurance industry has only noted the impact it has on what it considers to be “frivolous litigation.” The problem is that all litigation against insurance companies is deemed frivolous. Insurers simply do not want to be held accountable for not paying promptly and fully. Howard noted that these anti-policyholder laws passed by Florida’s legislature and supported by Florida’s insurance commissioner had the impact desired by the insurance industry, obviously making Florida a more favorable place for his new insurance startup to do business:

IJ: Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said recently that you have credited Senate Bill 76 (passed earlier this year) with making reforms that will limit litigation and other costs for insurers. Others have said the law did not go far enough.

I think it is a good start but we have a ways to go. If you think about Senate Bill 1980, the sinkhole reform legislation (2006), it reduced frivolous lawsuits, but it took a while for that to really take hold. But it finally fixed that problem and think this (SB 76) will eventually tighten up Florida and get rid of solicitations on roofs that aren’t even damaged and those type things to allow carriers to write, in partner with insureds and agents, without fear of reopens and lawsuits and assignment-of-benefits-abuse.

The New Year always leads to new resolutions for change and betterment. Technology and innovation will undoubtedly impact the insurance landscape. It has consistently done so. The question is how it will benefit the public and provide a better insurance product.

Thought For The Day

Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.
—William Pollard