When Hurricane Harvey ripped through the southern coast of the United States in 2017, over 130,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Over 80% of victims did not have flood insurance. This meant that families with ruined furniture, flooded basements and damaged walls were forced to dig deep into their pockets or amass huge amounts of debt to restore their homes. 90% of natural disasters that occur in the United States involve some form of flooding.
The homes most at risk of being destroyed in a flood are those on the south coast, particularly those in Florida and Louisiana. Not all states are immune to flooding however, with all coastal states carrying their own fair share of risk. The process of obtaining flood insurance is overly complicated, resulting in poor conversion rates for flood insurance policies. All of this exacerbates the impact of natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.
When moving into a new place of residence, the previous owner is legally obligated to disclose information related to the property to the new owner – crazily, flood risk and flooding history is exempt; often residents are left entirely in the dark about how much their property is at risk of being damaged by flooding. At-risk Americans are often stuck on a looping conveyor belt of naivety, confusion, hesitation, and financial ruin.
My Flood Risk helps this process, released in 2019 by Shoothill, but the flood sector still lacked a digital solution to transform the way in which the consumer obtains flood insurance. The ‘go-to’ way of obtaining Flood Insurance in the United States is via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a government owned program that aims to reduce the socio-economic impact of floods. The key word here is reducing. The NFIP typically cannot exceed $250,000 to cover a property, even though the average price of a home in Florida, a high-risk state, is $282,894 (as of June 2021). The most expensive property in Florida has a value of $115,000,000. Florida alone has over 9 million homes (found in a 2019 census) – several million of them over the average price. Because of this, the NFIP cannot sufficiently protect all Florida homes, leaving many to source private flood insurance policies. This is an issue that exists nationwide.
Life is difficult for the consumer in this sector. Making life easier with a digital solution is exactly what Shoothill set out to do upon learning this information.
Shoothill Ltd has operated solely within the borders of the United Kingdom since its incorporation, thus operating under EU and UK laws – until 2020, when Shoothill Inc was incorporated in the United States. Operating in a complex foreign marketplace would prove to be one of our biggest challenges yet; the release of a nation-wide web tool would need to obey federal laws, and state laws, across all 50 states. The issue of data protection and privacy would also need to be considered; there is no single principal data protection legislation in the United States, rather a complex patchwork of sector-specific and medium-specific laws.
Director of Operations at National Flood Insurance
To receive flood insurance quotes, consumers are forced into contacting brokers via telephone. Shoothill recognised the potential for a revolutionary digital solution that could automate this workflow, to mutually benefit broker and consumer.
As a result, Shoothill launched My Flood Insurance (MFI) in 2020. MFI facilitates the opportunity for consumers, agents and real estate professionals to quote multiple flood insurance companies in one place and is, proudly, the first online price comparison site for flood insurance in the United States.
My Flood Insurance also includes the ability to instantly receive quotes for not only single-family residences, but also commercial properties, condo units, mobile homes and residential condominium building associations.
The user enters their address, then the system, using an API, contacts Estated (a comprehensive property data system for all American properties) to gather information on the entered property and display that to the user. Here, the user receives the option to change their information to receive a more accurate quote. The system, using further APIs, contacts various insurance brokers including those offered by the NFIP, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and private providers such as Wright, Neptune, and Sterling. The user can then chat with agents to progress their purchase or be directed to the policy holder site to complete the final steps.
My Flood Insurance is hosted on Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform, utilising Microsoft’s SQL relational database management system. Azure uses end-to-end encryption, and each data entry is anonymised for the security of its users. The MFI website also holds an SSL certificate, ensuring that sensitive data such as usernames and passwords are kept secure.
My Flood Insurance launched as an exceptionally well streamlined innovative price comparison solution for the American consumer. After answering a few short questions and entering information, the system returns quotes to the user in an impressive 5-10 seconds. The site receives around 1,000 users a month (as of June 2021) and, since its launch, has produced over 15,000 quotes to its users – a revolutionary digital solution for the American consumer and a significant leap forward in making flood insurance more obtainable for Americans.
My Flood Insurance released as an app on the US App Store for iOS devices and on the US Google Play store for Android devices in May 2021 – a process spearheaded by Shoothill, to go that extra mile in making insurance quotes even easier to obtain.
The merging of flood insurance expertise and innovative technology between Shoothill and National Flood Insurance has allowed users to obtain instant flood insurance quotes from multiple carriers, purchase a flood policy, and chat with a live agent all in three simple steps on one website. The site continues to go from strength to strength and is another example of Shoothill’s ability to rise to a challenge and deliver an unparalleled digital solution.
As a result of this work, Shoothill has demonstrated: