National Flood Services simplifies flood insurance for agents and insureds

by Alicja Grzadkowska  05 May 2020

The flood insurance market has historically lagged behind other lines of business when it comes to customer simplicity, agent experience, and innovation.  There has been limited progress in terms of operations and workflows within companies, the way in which agents are educated, and how the product is sold. However, one flood solutions provider that boasts a 35-year history and deep expertise in this marketplace is driving innovation and modernization into the flood insurance industry.

National Flood Services (NFS), the #1 provider of flood solutions in the US, has been on a journey over the past two years to reinvent the flood insurance business and transform access to the flood product for agents and customers. Following a major acquisition, NFS has emerged with a technology platform called Trident that enables end-to-end quoting, applications, policy management, and claims, in addition to a wealth of educational resources that serve agents and policyholders.

The transformation of the company began when PEAK6 Investments acquired NFS from Aon in 2018. At that point, the flood insurance market had lacked some of the innovation seen in other fintech sectors, creating a tremendous opportunity and need to transform the customer experience in flood. As part of the company’s reinvention, NFS launched Trident, which presents a stark contrast to how flood insurance has traditionally been quoted, sold and managed.

“Within the application, the specific questions that property owners need to answer depend on the property and will vary between customers, making the process often challenging to understand for typical agents, especially if they’re not writing flood frequently,” said Ralph Blust, CEO of NFS, adding that this creates confusion and can leave customers frustrated.

NFS determined that the quoting, application and policy management process could be significantly simplified using technology to promote a more intuitive and responsive workflow based on the initial responses of an insured. Using Trident, 85% of property owners in the United States – those of the population that are eligible for the lower-risk PRP policy – will be guided through seven questions and provided an instant quote. The platform also integrates third-party data, historical analytics, and optical character recognition (OCR) as a means of simplifying data entry to shorten the process for agent and policyholder.

“We are solving the complexity of obtaining a quote by streamlining the process and guiding the agent and the policyholder on some of the more intricate application requirements,” said Blust. “As of today, Trident is delivering immediate quotes to two out of three risks, with our goal to be at 95% of all risks getting quoted with us on an immediate basis.”

NFS has also aimed to make understanding the flood insurance industry easier for agents and policyholders to navigate by supplementing the new application process with modern training and education programs to build knowledge and expertise in flood.

On the NFS website today, agents will find over 140 videos that range from one-minute to three-minutes in length and are designed to answer specific questions that an agent or consumer might have about flood insurance. Those include how to file a claim, how to buy insurance, and whether a homeowner needs insurance, alongside many other key topics. Agents can also find longer training webinars that dive deeper into flood-related subjects, such as deciphering various policy types, the different risks that cause flood and specific requirements within the application process.

Another exciting feature on the NFS website is the library of documents available for agents to use when selling flood. “We’ve also given agents a digital library of promotional and marketing material that they can use in order to better solicit flood,” said Blust. “Most agents historically have been hesitant in quoting the flood product and our [mission] has been that if we educate the agent properly and make it easy for the agent to sell the product, more will do that.”

Since the acquisition of NFS by PEAK6, the flood solutions provider has become a technology and service provider, an advocate of flood insurance, and an education resource on the peril of flood. Being an expert across these services uniquely positions NFS because there’s no other enterprise that’s integrating all three solutions to the insurance community and to consumers.

The education component aimed at agents has been especially successful. Over a six-month period, NFS ran an integrated digital program to 13,000 agents to increase knowledge and awareness of flood.  Over that time, the agents that participated in the e-learning program saw a 20% increase in policy growth all over the country, beyond just areas where flood has traditionally been sold. Considering that structures in the US today are three times more likely to have a flood than a fire over the 30-year course of a mortgage, yet only 12% of all homes are insured today for flood, promoting flood insurance education has never been more important.

“This shows that if you train agents and create awareness of the exposures that are associated [with flood], the coverage options, and how to complete an application, which is a key denominator in our platform, you can help facilitate the government’s mission to cover every structure that’s exposed to flood,” said Blust. “And that’s what we’re here to do, is to support that effort.”