Many insurance agents in non-coastal areas steer clear of selling flood insurance, convinced the coverage is densely complicated and little-needed. As a result, the market is “greatly underpenetrated,” says Keith Brown, CEO of StoneRiver National Flood Services.
To encourage agents to enter the market, and to make flood sales simpler, StoneRiver partnered with software tech provider Vertafore to create a service that allows agents to quote and cross-sell flood insurance while quoting and selling homeowners insurance.
“The agent can go in and choose the carriers they would like to run a homeowners quote with, input the address and basic information about the house, and we will return back instantaneously with a listing of homeowners quotes, along with an indication of whether the home is in a special flood hazard area and a range of what flood insurance might cost,” Brown explained.
With Vertafore’s back-end systems, the agent can then choose a flood insurance carrier for the area and click through to get a full quote and ultimately purchase a policy. The service also includes an online sales brochure on flood risk and a waiver the client can sign if they elect not to carry coverage, which may later protect the agent.
The partnership taps into Vertafore’s PL Rating system and StoneRiver’s flood quoting platforms, the companies said. StoneRiver services roughly 60 of the 88 carriers certified to sell flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), meaning the partnership could potentially reach more than 6,000 agents when it launches later this year.
“We wanted to provide agents with the ability to access this information quickly and easily so that they can offer more policies to their perspective clients, which will make those clients stickier at the end of the day,” said Dave Acker, vice president of strategic market development for Vertafore. “Right now, the agent has to go to a disparate system and rekey all the client’s data. We’re really eliminating all that.”
Both Acker and Brown said the Biggert-Waters Act and recent congressional efforts to modify its effects will make their service even more valuable.
“It makes the partnership that much more important,” Brown said. “Flood has gotten even more confusing, and we’ll be able to help simplify it in a way agents understand.”
Vertafore and StoneRiver are preparing for a soft launch of the service in about eight weeks’ time, after which they hope to make the service available in the lower 48 states in mid-Q2.