What 35 Years Experience
with Flood Insurance has Taught Us
We’ve been helping Americans find flood insurance and helping agents connect their customers with the coverage they need for 35 years. In that time, we’ve handled claims in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam. We’ve quoted more than 78 million flood risks and handled more than $9.5 billion in claims.
In the process, we’ve also learned a lot about not only the ins and out of the product and how to deliver it but also about how to serve both homeowners and insurance agents better. Here are six key things our three and a half decades selling flood insurance have taught us.
1. Speed Matters – And It’s Acheivable
Today’s insurance customers are also today’s Amazon, Netflix, and Uber customers. They’re used to getting what they want fast, through a hassle-free process.
We’ve embraced that reality. We make everything from quoting to customer service to claims seamless and speedy:
- With Trident, our new technology platform, agents can quote customers with just seven clicks (down from 46). Our tech then suggests a policy in just one second (down from five).
- We handle two million customer calls per year, with an abandonment rate of just one percent. All callers who hang up dissatisfied get a call back within 24 hours so we can understand what went wrong and how we can make it right.
- We strive to process claims in just 15 days – twice as fast as the industry average. Already, half our customers receive advance payments so they can start rebuilding faster.
2. You Can’t Over-Prepare
No two floods are alike, and no two flood seasons are alike.
With this guiding principle in mind, we run practice emergencies several times each year to ensure that we’re ready for whatever nature has in store. During these drills, everyone at the company – from janitorial staff to executives – is presented with modified, emergency-like working conditions and has to adapt.
These exercises are what enabled us, in 2017, to rise to the occasion of three severe hurricanes that hit back to back: Harvey on August 25, Irma on August 31, and Maria on September 20. Across those three events, we…
- Took first notice of loss for more than 60,000 claims.
- Fully processes 29,000 claims.
- Scaled up to 346 claims professionals, for whom we spun up four offices, including a field regional office in Houston.
- Issued advance payments to more than 51 percent of customers totalling $380+ million.
- Closed 69 percent of claims within 45 days.
Of course, floods happen year-round. When they do, we’re always ready to spring into action to ensure our customers have the support they need to get back to normal as soon as possible.
3. Agents Need Fast, Simple, Straightforward Information
Flood insurance operates differently than homeowner’s insurance, and many agents have never received training on how to write it. As the need for flood insurance increases around the country, we’re aiming to change that.
Our new digital education library offers easily accessible videos on a range of topics. Agents who have never written a flood policy, for example, can benefit from our flood insurance basics series. Those with more experience can consult our deep dives, like the one on how to write an elevation certificate.
All of our videos simplify complex flood topics so agents can grow their books and better support their customers by writing more flood insurance policies. So far, results have been promising:
- More than 90,000 agents have viewed our educational materials in the last six months.
- The WYO agents who viewed these materials saw a 20 percent improvement in new business written.
- Agents who engaged with our training and marketing materials see 10 percent growth in paid-in-full accounts year over year.
We’re proud of these aggregate numbers, but we also know that every agent is different. At the core of all of our educational and training efforts is the goal of building meaningful relationships with the agents we serve to ensure we’re providing them with what they need to do their jobs.
4. You Can’t Replace Experience
Nothing can replace the things you learn by doing the work we do, year after year. Today, we’re proud to note that the average NFS employee has 15 years of experience working with flood insurance.
And while we’ve recently updated our tech platform to deliver a sleeker, more intuitive experience to our agents and customers, we know that it’s the people who make up NFS who really set us apart. The proof: our customers report 99 percent satisfaction in our team’s knowledge about flood insurance.
5. Floods Are Getting Worse
The last few years have seen flooding events that are more frequent and more severe than in years past, thanks to climate change and urban development patterns.
More Americans than ever are at risk of flood damage, but flood events look different in different parts of the country. A one-size-fits-all approach to preparation wouldn’t work.
That’s why we tailor agent training by geography, so that every agent is uniquely prepared to support their customers, whether they’re at risk for floods caused by…Rain
- Spring melt
- Wildfire aftereffects
… or other causes.
In addition to providing background education, we use advanced forecast modeling and tracking as events develop. This lets us constantly update our resources and claims estimates for agents and customers around the country.
6. Big Misconceptions Still Exist
We mentioned above that agents need better information about flood insurance. Homeowners do, too.
Many think that they only need flood insurance if they live in a flood plain. Others think they already have flood protection in their homeowner’s insurance policy.
The result is that only 15 percent of Americans currently have flood insurance, even though FEMA’s official stance is that anywhere it can rain, it can flood.
We’re working hard to educate homeowners about the real flood risks they face. In addition to better arming agents with information they can pass along, we’ve made our digital resource library available to anyone who wants to learn more about floods. And we’ll keep growing awareness by producing and promoting more helpful educational content.
Preparing for flood events is an enormous, collective job. It requires municipal policies that encourage safe development, individual homeowner preparation that shores up low-lying property, the development of products (federally subsidized and private) that make coverage accessible to everyone who needs them, and agents who understand those products and how they can benefit homeowners.
We take pride in educating homeowners and agents about the ways they can benefit from flood insurance. We look forward to helping more Americans prepare for their increasing risk of flood events so they can minimize the impact those events have on their lives and livelihoods.