New kid on block will use technology and quick repair networks to survive Florida market

When the insurance world in Florida learned that a new home insurance company was stepping into Florida’s troubled waters, reactions ranged from cynicism to apoplexy.

Vyrd President David Howard

Few have given the new company, known as Vyrd Insurance, a very good chance of surviving a market plagued by carrier insolvencies, excessive litigation, a booming industry of adjusters. and suspected fraud by contractors.

Part of the secret sauce for Vyrd, said David Howard, company president and Florida insurance industry veteran, will be Vyrd’s heavy reliance on technology, a privileged network of entrepreneurs – and a plan to beat the other guys at the punch.

“We feel like we have technologies that we’re going to use that will allow us not only to spot problems, but to act on losses faster, sort losses and speed up claims settlements and render insureds faster, “Howard said last week.

Vyrd has partnered with Bolt, an insurance company, to provide policyholders with Internet of Things technology that will instantly detect and report water leaks. Vyrd’s adjusters and contractors can then act quickly to make repairs before the damage escalates – and, perhaps, before the public adjusters can calculate the major losses.

Vyrd also recruited an army of roofing contractors and emergency service companies. Once roof damage is detected, the software will automatically notify crews, who will rush in and put tarps on the roofs as soon as possible to minimize water damage, Howard said.

“We just think it’s going to be a faster claims cycle, basically,” Howard said. “That’s the key: mobilize and attack an area quickly to protect homes and mitigate further casualties. We are really confident in this approach.

Vyrd, backed by $ 46 million of capital and a joint venture agreement with SiriusPoint, a major reinsurance company, plans to start by offering take-out policies to some 42,000 citizens’ property insurers. Eventually, business owners can offer home flood insurance and maybe even condominium coverage.

Howard, the former president of Lighthouse Property Insurance in Florida, sat down for an interview last week with the Insurance Journal to discuss a range of issues the new company, the first in Florida in years, will be facing. confronted. His comments have been edited slightly for clarity and brevity.

IJ: What do you see in the Florida market that others don’t?

I think it’s twofold. So much business has gone to citizens. This is why we do take out sales. Most of the business that has come into Citizens in the last year and a half has really been based on the rates and the age of the roof. As tariffs increase and cost of living and inflation protection factors are put in place, this tariff will be more in line with the average tariffs that we have filed and that other competitors have filed. .

IJ: Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said recently that you attributed reforms to Senate Bill 76 (passed earlier this year) that will limit litigation and other costs to insurers. Others said the law did not go far enough.

I think it’s a good start, but we still have some way to go. If you think of the 1980 Senate bill, the Pit Reform Act (2006), it cut back on frivolous lawsuits, but it took a while for that to really take hold. But he finally fixed that problem and thinks that (SB 76) will eventually tighten up Florida and get rid of stress on roofs that aren’t even damaged and that sort of thing for carriers to write in, partnering with policyholders and agents, without fear of reopening and lawsuits and abuse of assignment of benefits.

There are characters that basically prey on policyholders all over the state and that’s why you have rampant claims and lawsuits. Because the opportunity is there. But also, the carriers do not work enough to have a closer partnership with the insured. And that’s what our goal will be, to have a close relationship with our policyholders. Provide them service and provide them with additional tools to mitigate complaints and deal with complaints quickly. This will alleviate the problems some carriers have in Florida and explain why there are so many lawsuits.

IJ: Talk about insurtech Bolt and your use of technology at Vyrd.

We see technology throughout the ecosystem of everything we do, and we will apply technology throughout the process, on the claims side and on the underwriting side, providing more tools for the insured to detect quickly. loss of water and quickly mitigate losses on the roof in case of emergency tarps and services and also get repairs faster, thanks to a network of roofers in Florida. And on the side of water attenuation, because these are the two main factors of loss: roofs and water damage.

We will have a preferred repair network, to provide automatic estimates and faster roofing jobs statewide. And at a fair price for the insured and for the transporter replacing the roof. When you have these closer relationships, you not only reduce the losses incurred and the severity of the claim, but you get the insured back faster.

IJ: Public adjusters have become a big deal in Florida. How is Vyrd going to handle this?

It’s difficult. You know, I think part of that from my point of view is education. Ongoing training with the agent and the insured to say, “We will take care of you, fairly, quickly and cure you quickly”. We will ask our agents to make policyholders understand that this company is ready to deliver and be there quickly. And when called upon by a claims adjuster, know that you have been educated upstream and that “my carrier is there for me. I don’t need this public fitter. And it’s not just anecdotal: from our last job (at Lighthouse Property Insurance) we saw that in Florida, we had a lower rate of public expert, AOB and litigation, due to the how we set up the service network.

What other reforms would you like to see come out of the legislature? Much has been said about the need to allow real dollar value on the roofs rather than full replacement.

It’s a touchy subject because you are selling a product and the next thing you know you say you are selling a product that is not an insured whole. For now, with take out, we are focused on providing similar coverage to citizens. The main driver in Florida is roofs and reinsurance costs, as well as how reinsurance models deal with roof age, type of construction, and location. This is what generates your maximum probable loss and your purchase of reinsurance.

We can see on the road that there will be problems with the roofs. Right now the bottom line is to understand, there has to be a middle ground between what a lot of carriers are doing trying to reduce their PML and what Citizens is taking. If you can’t find a solution between these two, then not every takeout in the world will slow down the volume going to citizens.

IJ: Rooftop solar power is booming in Florida. What about the cover for this?

It’s interesting. We will have to take this into account if we cover this or if we add a cover for solar energy. Also, and solar companies are evaluating this, but we have to consider the weight of the panels on the roof. These are all types of things that solar companies, roofers and insurers need to come together to make sure we all understand the impact of what the panels are doing on the roof, and what the cost is, the cost. do we cover, should we apply a special solar cover? We will follow the lead of what the industry is trying to do and apply our experience to it and see what we need to do with it. Right now, 10% of the homes we cover may have solar power.

IJ: Where does the name Vyrd come from?

It’s twofold. It is a derivative of verde (Spanish, Portuguese, Latin), which means green. Because we are in Florida, which has a lush green climate. And it also means “to go”, because we are ready to go ahead with the technology. We’re not going to stop. Vyrd is also derived from a Norwegian word meaning “highly esteemed”.

IJ: Is there anything else you would like to say to the naysayers who doubt Vyrd can make it in Florida?

We do not take entry into the state lightly. We feel like we are turning all the stones and searching every nook and cranny and using our past experience to create a new take-out startup business. We’ve been through a lot, and been through a lot, so we don’t feel like we’re going into this as a newbie. But there will be unforeseen events, but we are well positioned and ready to consider appropriate actions as things arise.

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Florida InsurTech Tech