Ten years after Hurricane Andrew "tore a swath of destruction through Florida" in the early nineties, Sandy Smith at EHS speculated that if a category 5 hurricane were to hit Florida in 2002, the costs at that time would measure twice as high – from Andrew's $15.5 billion to a projected $30 billion.
Not just due to inflation, either. The region would be more vulnerable, Smith said, because of how great its population and wealth had grown in the years since Andrew came and went.
Now 26 years after Andrew, Hurricane Irma has made the Smith's hypothetical real. And the costs that Smith predicted are modest compared to what we're seeing in Florida today. Recent estimates put the damages from Irma somewhere between $50-150 billion, according to the BBC.
Two major hurricanes hitting the United States at almost the same moment is, quite literally, a perfect storm. "But to dismiss this as a once-in-a-lifetime event would be a mistake," said social scientist Mikhail Chester and engineer Thaddeus Miller at The Conversation. "With more very powerful storms forming in the Atlantic this hurricane season, we should know better."
In fact, the Atlantic reported that we may be looking at a new normal for tropical storms. Some climate scientists theorize that hurricanes "are getting more intense overall," while "weaker storms are also forming less frequently." If so, we'll see storms less frequently in days to come, but they'll be doozies.
One thing that's not in question is our vulnerability. “We know population is increasing, and we know vulnerability is increasing because there’s no massive plan to update infrastructure in Houston,” professor of atmospheric science Katharine Hayhoe told the Atlantic. “There’s really no uncertainty that the risk is going up.”
That rise in risk is very much on the minds of Chester and Miller at the Conversation. “If we design with the technologies, needs and climate conditions of the 20th century, we will no longer serve society and the hazards we will encounter now and in the future,” they said.
Greater vulnerability raises the need for deep changes in how we as a society prepare for storms like Harvey and Irma. Where infrastructure is concerned, for example, there are serious lessons for "policymakers, planners, engineers, developers and the public," the Conversation said.
Insurance stability, for now
No big changes are in the works in the insurane industry at present, however. For insurers, the situation following Harvey and Irma is "surprisingly rosy," Fortune said. Analysts predict that "profit will take a hit, but the the dynamics of capital and pricing will not." Yes, insurance stocks took a dive in direct response to Irma, but that reflects more on market fear than on industry capacity. Insurers can handle this one, said CNBC.
Long story short, we can expect the industry to proceed as normal for the time being. Yet if infrastructure and institutional design don't receive some much-needed attention in years to come, that may change.
The FedNat Insured Web is a great tool for our insureds!
They like having a centralized location to view policy info, make payments, upload policy documents, and elect to become paperless to receive a discount.
The insureds also can file a First Notice of Loss for a claim and access exiting claim info. Silvervine recently enhanced the site which allows insureds to upload policy documents directly to their policy. The uploaded docs go directly into our workflows and save a lot of manual effort on our part.
From my visits with agents, the agents appreciate the app for the amount of time saved on having to download and attach photos directly to the policy.
The app can also reduce the amount of staff required for a busy office to fulfill underwriting requests for photos.
When training agents they are amazed at how quickly the photos attach directly to the policy. After taking photos using the app and before they make it back to their desk, the photo is already attached to the policy. They also like the ability to attach additional photos for pre-existing damage.
Customer Service is seeing an improvement with retention as the text message definitely triggers phone calls from insureds to make payments.
The insureds love the fact that we notify them on their phones because they state that sometimes they don’t receive their mail for various reasons.
The insureds are paying more attention to the texts then to their actual mail. We try to set all of our customers up on that option if we notice that they are not currently enrolled, as it builds great customer relations as well as retention.
As a company we have adopted the use of Policy Scan for all our policies, and our agents have adopted the use of the app as well.
Not only is it easy to use, there is also no more worrying about losing photos, having to store photos or photos being attached to the wrong policy.
With Policy Scan we have increased efficiency in our workflow and reduced our exposure on the risk.
Silvervine’s core administration solutions easily handles multiple carriers within multiple states, including accounting, payment processing, immediate policy issuance and endorsements.
What started out writing one product, one line in one state has now grown into mulitple products, multiple lines and writing in multiple states. We have over $95 million in annualized premium in-force and we expect to grow by 20% during the next year all serviced by Silvervine.
Silvervine was our insurance software system of choice when we started the company in 2006. Silvervine enabled us to begin business within a few months of licensing the company. Today, we are one of the top 20 homeowner’s writers in Texas and SIlvervine’s solutions have been an integral part of our success.