At the time of this writing, Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall in Atlantic City, N.J. during the evening on Monday, October 29. The state, which was battered last year during Irene, is likely to see even more devastating effects from this storm.
CURE Insurance provides auto coverage almost entirely in New Jersey -- though it recently expanded to Pennsylvania. Its COO, Eric Poe, says that after Irene, the company surveyed the lay of the land and didn't want to leave anything to chance when it came to solvency.
"When our renewal for our reinsurance came up, we beefed up on that," Poe says. "The CAT modeling had said there would be a once in 35 year hurricane every year for the past eight years. People had been laughing at that -- and now it's been two years in a row."
Like many insurers, Poe says he partially attributes the cluster of these events to the effects of climate change. While this means there is likely to be less snow-related damage to policyholders' vehicles, it does increase the chance of flood incidents. With Sandy approaching, CURE sent out e-mails with tips on how to preserve your car -- park uphill from the streets, for example -- and followed up with robo-calls to reiterate the message, with the goal of minimizing potential claims.
"We wanted to remind our policyholders that you can't just look at your car and say 'hey, it's insured,'" he notes. "There may be so many adjusters on the road that they can't get to you in a timely manner."
In the future, CURE is discussing ways to provide hyper-local assistance to policyholders in advance of a flooding event. Poe says the insurer is looking into plotting customers on Google Maps, finding nearby parking garages, and offering reimbursements or discounts to customers who park in those garages and keep their car dry during the storm. The company has been pushing pay-by-text for more than a year, and sees this as another opportunity to leverage its SMS database.
"We would provide you with an e-mail, text or call and say that we'd reimburse you for two days of parking at a location near you," he says. "We're also considering offering reimbursements for taxi rides."
For right now, though, CURE is depending on several redundancies already built in to help service its policyholders. Home-based service employees can access online chat without having to go to a call center, he explains.
"Live chat that has been a tremendous technological help for us for building redundancy," he says. "When you can have people no matter where you are in the country chatting online, it saves your server from having to take calls."