Letter from the President
"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
Challenges—many were presented to us in 2016. Insured losses from natural catastrophes in the U.S. totaled $23.8 billion, an almost 50% increase compared to the prior year. The largest event in terms of insured losses, a wind and hail event in April, totaled almost $3 billion, primarily in Texas. While it did not lead the list of insured losses, the Baton Rouge-area flooding in August led to profound human costs.
So, how do such difficulties lead to opportunities?
First, these events provide confirmation of the essential soundness of our business model. As I’ve consistently outlined in these pages, our plan is predicated upon growth that is strong, but prudent—backed by a conservative fiscal approach, geographic diversity, and an approach to reinsurance that prioritizes our long-term financial health over a quick savings. The events of 2016 served as a reaffirmation of this model, as we weathered the storm—many of them, actually!—while some of our competitors face much more painful results for the year.
Second, this provides an opportunity to expand our tested approach in existing markets to offer innovative, financially sound products to more and more customers. In Louisiana, our planned launch of a new homeowners company and program will make us much more competitive in the marketplace. Our private flood program in Florida, Hawaii, and South Carolina (with Texas on the way soon) offers more robust coverages and higher limits than the NFIP, at rates up to 15% lower. In Hawaii, our planned launch of a full homeowners product to accompany our existing hurricane-only will offer what I firmly believe will be the best full-breadth residential property coverage on the islands.
Speaking of the islands, we’re extremely excited to congratulate our Chairman and Voyagers Agency Incentive Trip winners who will be joining us in Hawaii this summer for an unforgettable adventure in paradise. We are also excited to announce that our agents are currently earning their way to our next Agency Incentive Trip to majestic Whistler, Canada in the summer of 2018.
Our Agency Incentive Trip winners set a great standard for us all to follow in 2017, which I’m confident will bring more successes. This moment should be defined by optimism. Opportunity—identifying it and seizing it is our specialty, and we’re excited to do that with you this year.