Like many insurance businesses, Narragansett Bay Insurance Co. endured a difficult test not quite a year ago, when Hurricane Sandy blew a swatch of destruction along the East Coast.
The company’s business model, said CEO Todd Hart, involves “riding risk on the coast.” NBIC, based in Pawtucket, can manage the risky coastal market better than some competitors. “We actually inspect all the homes that we underwrite,” said Hart, “predominantly along the coastal zip codes and counties.”
“I jokingly say that I got acquainted with the organization when Sandy came through. It’s been trial by fire,” Hart said. NBIC had to respond to 20,000 claims. “We did a good job, not perfect, but we came through strong. And we know what we’re capable of.”
NBIC operates in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, so Sandy’s trajectory seemed almost tailor-made to strain the insurance company. “It was a very large test of our underwriting system,” Hart said. “This was a substantial hurricane hitting two of our four states, New York and New Jersey, especially hard.”
After enjoying explosive growth before Hurricane Sandy, and indeed being recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in southern New England, NBIC has experienced more-modest growth since the superstorm.
“That’s OK, it was by design,” Hart said. “We’re still attracting business. We’re getting the internal operations to catch up with the growth. It’s a balancing act.”
As for the historic storm that tested Hart’s company? “I honestly believe in my heart that this will make NBIC,” he said. •