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Local insurance-claims business is charting a course for growth

Date: July 5, 2009

IAS Claim Services recently added First Insurance Co. of Hawaii as a client.

IAS, based in the Alamo City, will provide First Insurance with call-center services as well as insurance services related to catastrophic, property and auto claims.

Though there is no formal contract with First Insurance, IAS Claim Services CEO Larry Cochran says the new client represents “a really big pick-up” for his company.

“This new client is a very exciting venture for IAS because it is a new geographic market for the company and will illustrate how IAS can execute its quality customer service even in logistically challenging areas,” Cochran says.

Cochran declined to disclose revenue figures associated with the First Insurance deal. However, he says the company’s annual revenues exceed $20 million.

In March, IAS also expanded its footprint to four states by opening its first office in Virginia.

The new Richmond office will be used to facilitate claims, expedite claim payments and ensure that the policyholders of the company’s clients receive the best professional care available, Cochran says.

Cochran adds that the new office puts his company in a better position to respond to policyholders across Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region.

The new office is part of the company’s larger strategy to better serve the needs of its clients on the East Coast.

IAS Claim Services was established in 1984 and is an independent insurance adjusting firm, specializing in services primarily to property and casualty insurance companies.

It provides a range of catastrophic, property, casualty, liability and transportation claim services, as well as third-party administrative services to insurance companies. Its roster of 50 clients include some of the top insurance companies in the nation, including Homeowners of America, Chubb Insurance Group, Farmers Insurance Cox, American Strategic Insurance Group, Republic Group and Fred Loya Insurance.

IAS has about 30 full-time employees in its seven offices in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Virginia.

IAS also operates a call-center through an agreement it has with locally based CareNet — a provider of health-care support services. At the current time, CareNet primarily provides answering services for IAS clients.

In order to streamline its clients’ claims-adjusting process while also providing their customers with consistent and quality service, IAS maintains database of just under 900 personal and commercial lines adjusters, which can be deployed to multiple catastrophic events across the country within 24 hours through IAS’ subsidiary CatCrew.

“Most insurance companies don’t keep a staff of adjusters necessary to handle a big surge in claims,” Cochran says. “What we provide is that flexible workforce.”

Cochran says IAS is able to interface with its clients via technology, enabling them to easily send in claims to IAS representatives. Once received, IAS sends these claims out to its contract adjusters. In 2008 alone, IAS handled over 40,000 claims.

More growth planned

In addition to adding a new client and a new office, Cochran says the company is working to expand its leadership team. So far, IAS has hired Steve Patton as vice president of catastrophe services. Patton will head up these operations out of the newly opened Virginia office. Pat Mikel has also been hired as regional manager of the Houston office — which opened at the end of last year.

Cochran also says he is wrapping up the search for a new president, who will serve under him in San Antonio.

The growth being pursued at IAS, Cochran says, is part of larger plans to move the company’s main back-office operations to San Antonio from Dallas. Prior to Cochran’s purchase of the company in 2006, IAS had been headquartered in Dallas.

Cochran says he chose to make the Alamo City the company’s new headquarters location because he lives here and because of the city’s talented workforce.

“I suspect that we’ll be adding to our call center (services). We have a lot of things in our plans to use the call center in more areas of the company for assisting the whole claim process — to make it more smooth and really up our customer service level,” he says.

In addition, he says Cochran would like to bring some of the company’s conferences and training courses to San Antonio in an effort to attract a younger workforce.

About 70 percent of the workforce in the industry, he says, is presently over 45.

Stuyvesant Jackson, president of the Tomball, Texas-based Texas Claims Association, says fewer people are going into the industry and “there’s no feed so to speak” of experienced young claims adjusters entering the profession. So he says there is a need to ramp up the workforce.

The problem is not one that’s unique to San Antonio. Marty Brown, president of the National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters (NAII), says his organization is working to get the word out about job opportunities in the insurance industry.

“Individually and as an association, we’re really interested in trying to develop a mentoring or internship program to try and bring people into the business,” Brown says, adding that NAII is looking at developing relationships with high schools and colleges to help recruit new employees.