I think it is fair to say that 2020 did not go as most of us originally expected. The same was true here at Armed Forces Insurance (AFI). Experience has taught me that there are times in our lives when the challenges seem to line up and wait for their turn. 2020 was just one of those years.
Of course, all of us have dealt with the unique challenges that COVID-19 has brought to aspects of our daily lives. Unfortunately, we also had to help many of our members deal with an unbelievable number of catastrophic weather events during this trying time. Our members had to deal with tornadoes, hail, wildfires and an unprecedented number of hurricanes and tropical storms hitting the United States coastline.
For our members and Armed Forces Insurance, it was a challenging year. Fortunately, Armed Forces Insurance was created over 130 years ago to help provide a buffer for our members during difficult times. I am confident that we stayed true to our mission in 2020.
Being agile and dealing with unexpected events is what our staff and management are trained to deal with day in and day out. This year, there were new obstacles for us to face, but we took them on and pushed through. In a recent meeting of our Board of Directors, I said that we are a bit tired and have a bruise or two, but we took on 2020 and I’m proud of how well our management, staff, and members handled themselves.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, management committed to both our members and our employees to protect and help keep them safe. We made sure that there would be no disruptions to our member services and that we could quickly and efficiently take care of physical loss and damages if misfortune struck so that our members would have one less thing to worry about. Our Armed Forces Insurance team made many sacrifices to meet (and exceed) AFI’s long-standing excellent service standards. I’m proud to report that while claims satisfaction for the insurance industry as a whole significantly declined over the past 12 months, Armed Forces Insurance IMPROVED our claims service rating (which was already one of best in the industry) during 2020.
Management supported our employees and our community by maintaining employment and converting operations to virtual/work from home to keep our staff and their families safe and productive. It was a massive effort in a short amount of time and I applaud our IT staff for a smooth transition. Management also took the opportunity in 2020 to accelerate critical system upgrades, add new policy options through our Agency and drive efficiencies to keep costs as low as possible. It was certainly a busy year, even if much of the communication was conducted virtually.
Reflecting on 2020 reaffirmed Armed Forces Insurance’s need to provide financial stability is still as relevant today as it was 134 years ago when our organization was formed. As I was preparing for AFI’s 134th birthday, I found it reassuring to read an excerpt from our founders so many years ago:
And on February 7th, 1887, “…over 30 officers met in the Hop Room on the frontier post of Fort Leavenworth to organize a unique association to provide greater financial security for themselves and for their families. Schooled in the pioneer tradition that demanded cooperation as the price of survival, this small gathering pledged to share each other’s risks for loss to personal property…thus officially creating the Army Co-Operative Fire Association”, the predecessor name for Armed Forces Insurance.
Armed Forces Insurance has been through a lot in the past 134 years including the great San Francisco Earthquake in 1906, the 1918 Flu and COVID-19 pandemics, the Great Depression and Great Recession, multiple global and regional wars, stock market crashes, and catastrophes of every kind and yet, Armed Forces Insurance still stands ready to serve.
As I look to the future of Armed Forces Insurance, in many ways, it mirrors our own lives. There will be good days and challenging days. There will be risks and pitfalls that could befall us, but also opportunities and a path through to brighter days ahead. With any journey, there will be many possibilities and it is up to us – the members and employees of Armed Forces Insurance to do our best to continue to support each other and chart the best route to the future.
I want to thank you, our members, for continuing to put your trust in Armed Forces Insurance. On behalf of all our employees, I wish you a prosperous 2021 and assure you that we are here to “Protect Those Who Protect Us”.
Arlen L. Briggs
President & Chief Executive Officer