Mobile investments pay off in Irma response

Security First, Florida’s second-largest home insurer, is witnessing its recent investments in mobile technology pay off in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which wreaked havoc in the state last weekend and left millions without power.

About 37% of claims filed by customers so far have been completed digitally, according to VP of Marketing Marissa Buckley, who spoke to Digital Insurance's Women in Insurance Leadership forum via Skype.

Of those, more than half were completed using the insurer’s mobile app, which launched in June 2016. Developed along with third-party vendor PointSource, the app allows policyholders to file claims and make policy payments via an integrated customer portal. It also contains ancillary services, including a storm tracker accessed a record 400,000 times by users on Sept. 1, Buckley says. The add-on technology uses APIs to track hurricane speed and location.

“Customers can also plot their own location to see how close they are,” Buckley added.

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A damaged sports utility vehicle (SUV) sits on top of debris from the destroyed Chateau Bordeaux restaurant after Hurricane Irma at Coral Bay in St John, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. After being struck by Irma last week, the U.S. Virgin Islands couldn't look less like a tourist destination. Many local residents are giving up and getting out after losing everything to the category 5 storm, even as the local authorities in the U.S. territory say they are determined to rebuild the islands. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Prior to Irma making landfall, Security First promoted the storm tracker tool on social media, resulting in an additional of 50,000 new users of its app. The company used similar tactics to hire 1,100 new catastrophe professionals in preparation for the storm.

The Ormond Beach-based insurer is currently fielding 4,800 claims a day and expects the trend to continue into next week. It projects it’ll receive 35,000 claims related to Irma up from the 15,000 estimate it gave Digital Insurance before the storm hit.

In preparation for future storms, Security First is also working with PointSource to implement artificial intelligence and cognitive computing in resolving hurricane claims .

“We want to automate a lot of the processes we do manually today in catastrophe response,” concluded Buckley.

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