The property insurance market in Florida isn't comprised of the household names known across the rest of the country. The state's third-largest writer is Security First, based in Ormond Beach, which opened in 2005, more than a decade after Hurricane Andrew upended Florida's insurance market.

Under COO Werner Kruck's leadership, Security First has leveraged a range of digital innovations to anticipate and respond to storms. Last year's storm Matthew, for example, was the first major test of a virtualized customer communications environment that Kruck says is already beginning to mobilize for Irma. The company has also been a pioneer in using geospatial technology and drones in the underwriting process so it can keep a balanced book.

"There's very little downside to being overprepared, but there's a big downside for being underprepared," Kruck says.

Security First's mobile claims center will be set up when Florida officials find a suitable location.
Security First's mobile claims center will be set up when Florida officials find a suitable location.

Security First uses Karen Clark & Co.'s RiskInsight tool to estimate how many claims it will receive from an event, adds VP of marketing Marissa Buckley. The latest estimate from Irma is 16,000 total claims from the company's more than 340,000 policies in force. Matthew yielded 13,000, which was below pre-storm estimates. But, "It could easily go in the other direction," Kruck adds.

To that end, Security First began setting up its digital response infrastructure on Wednesday, Sept. 6, several days before Irma was scheduled to make landfall. According to Kruck, Buckley and a company memo, these preparations included:

  • Putting technology partners on notice that certain services may see spikes in access volume. "We've already seen reductions in processing time" from partners like CodeObjects, which handles Security First's core processing, Buckley says.
  • Activating a field office in Atlanta. Because Security First's headquarters are on an island, it's possible the company will have to evacuate. If so, the Atlanta location ensures that the 200 activated adjusters will have a home office to connect with. The company also has an inland location with some workstations.
  • Readying a 57-foot mobile claims center for customers. That vehicle will be deployed once Florida's Department of Financial Services identifies a suitable location for insurers to set up to handle claims for customers who cannot file via phone. This is separate from another mobile office that will be staffed with claims professionals doing back-end work, Buckley clarifies. That unit is current set up on the Florida state line.
  • Distributing 200 VOIP devices that allow employees anywhere to connect to the contact center using their computer and pitch in answering claims calls.

"Not only are we using the best in tech, our tech partners have stepped up to the plate and offered support, office space, whatever we need," Buckley says. "It's a true strategic partnership."

Mobile is a key communications platform for Security First, Buckley says. In addition to first notice of loss and policy information, the company's app, developed by PointSource, features a storm tracker that has been accessed by more than 50,000 users during Irma's approach. It's also recorded 9,000 new users since Labor Day.

"Six percent of our online claims for Matthew came in via the app," Buckley says. "We anticipate that to increase in this storm."

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