Management: Mark A. Deddens, Founder and CEO, iStorm GroupManagement: Mark A. Deddens, Founder and CEO
“Policy is a contract,” says Mark A. Deddens, a passionate and driven entrepreneur in the world of risk management and disaster recovery. His simple words carry within them the instructions to establish the ideal insurer-consumer relationship, where both parties uphold, respect, and live up to the terms of their contracts. When a claim arises, owing to the fairness and good faith that exists in such a mutually beneficial arrangement, an insurance company can confidently provide the coverage their customer genuinely requires and improve the relationship and experience.

Sadly, however, drawing from his experience, Deddens states that the attitude of insurers today is to delay, deny, and reject. After a hail or wind storm, the damages sustained by a building can be severe and ultimately warrant full coverage. Yet considering the case of processing a claim for a broken roofing system insurers may not offer to cover the repairs under various pretenses. Some of which include the product being past its useful life, no functionaldamage, manufacturing defects, improper installations, or several other aspects that have not been listed in the initial contract, policy. Old damage, in particular, frequents this list as well and is the number one defense mechanism, and the lack of evidence provided by the affected often leads to the denial of claims.

I’ve built a system where we inspect properties, damaged or otherwise, and monitor the situation. When it gets hit not if, but when my clients are 100% protected

None of this sat right with Deddens. To fix the system, he founded iStorm Group, an organization fully dedicated to ensuring that commercial and multi-family properties face no inconveniences or the usual hindrances when dealing with their insurance claim processes. The purpose behind the establishment of iStorm Group is sincere, and how Deddens approaches the subject is incredibly refreshing and effective.

A Motivational Nudge

In 2011, Deddens was a minority equity owner of an organization that ended up getting sold within its first year in its series A round of investment. The conclusion of this venture led him to spend about three months without any work. It was only when his wife, Tammy, expressed her thoughts on Deddens’ current state of affairs that set things in motion for the birth of iStorm Group. “One day, I was in my office in a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, my hair was rumpled, and had not showered yet. She walks in and says, ‘you will not be sitting here without a job next time I get home,’” recalls Deddens. In the days following this conversation, Tammy found an exciting opportunity for him via her online advertising business activities that dealt with roofing and insurance.

Deddens, by this point in time, had already amassed a wealth of knowledge about insurance from his experience working in the areas of cost control management for physician practices and was confident in his abilities to make a difference in this new enterprise a storm restoration company. And he did.

His responsibilities entailed assessing a roof’s damages, documenting and reporting the information, and working toward settling a claim. Within 60 days of his tenure at the roofing company, Deddens alone constituted close to 60 percent of its overall revenue generation.But he knew there was more to be done his questions.

  • "I support insurance for a reason. And when there is a curtain call, and as long as I am being fair, reasonable, and legit, then the client and insurer need to stand up to the terms of the agreement. The policy is a contract. Don’t forget that"

To concerning the absence of automation, restriction to residential properties, redundancies in reporting, and the recurrent denial of claims finally culminated into the “Aha!” moment many aspiring entrepreneurs struggle to achieve. “I am going to build a system where we inspect properties, damaged or otherwise, and monitor the situation. When it gets hit not if, but when my clients have a home run,” expresses Deddens.

Quickly, but Truthfully

With a primary focus on multi-family properties and property owners, he started iStorm Group as a paid service provider that excels at risk management by the first quarter of 2012. The company’s pre loss and post-loss inspections make a world of difference for its clients as it seamlessly saves time and money while speeding up the settlement process with an indemnification rate that exceeds 95 percent.

Take, for instance, a client who approaches iStorm Group requesting services to cover 20 apartment complexes. An extremely skilled, highly certified team of professionals from the organization head to the properties and thoroughly inspects them and documents every detail no matter how minute in a baseline inspection process. “We look at everything exterior: construction materials and products, what they are made of, how well they were installed, if it needs any repairs, and useful life remaining. Most importantly we document the presence, or lack thereof storm damage” states Deddens. iStorm Group also ensures to leave comments on each aspect of the inspection, which carries tremendous value for the owners. This is critical as the insurance company underwriting process is not nearly as detailed.

The absolute dedication toward capturing every possible angle of a property, be it through words or photos, is incredibly immaculate. When a property has no damage, iStorm Group sets up its proprietary weather tracking system and plugs the property into it. The company sets thresholds for wind and hail to gauge how strong a storm would have to be to cause any damage. Deddens and his team sleep easily only after the process is complete. When the system indicates a storm, the company goes back to the property and inspects it, regardless of the occurrence of a storm. In doing so, the entire clause of ‘old damage’ becomes moot as iStorm Group has documented, quite frankly, everything.

The company additionally proffers consultancy services for construction, where its network of certified general contractors empowers clients with accurate and reliable cost and time analysis of their properties. It aces in managing fire, wind, hail, natural disasters, and capital expenditure projects. iStormGroup’s loss control and estimating services also stand out in the marketplace as its proficiency in working with hundreds of insurance carriers enables it to negotiate a justifiably sound scope of repairs.Moreover, this also bleeds into the organization’s current position in the property insurance world.

Over the past decade, iStorm Group has strived for fact-based, honest work, insomuch that when an insurance company realizes Deddens and his team are working on the project, they fully trust that it is an extremely legitimate claim. “We are not storm chasers. We are not throwing spaghetti on the wall. We are bringing them real damage,” declares the founder. And, the fact that iStorm Group expedites the otherwise laborious process with accurate and highly-detailed reports sweetens the pot.

Million Dollars in 34 Days

“I support insurance for a reason. And when there is a curtain call, and as long as I am being fair, reasonable, and legit, then both my insurer and I need to stand up to our terms of the agreement. The policy is a contract. Don’t forget that,” stresses Deddens. The client always comes first, the money always follows after.

To best elucidate iStormGroup’s commitment to the cause, Deddens shares the recent story of an ongoing project of 83 condo units within a single complex located in Cleveland. After understanding the damage, the company filed a claim, met with the adjuster, spent three days on the adjustments, came to a scope agreement, and received an insurance-approved written estimate of 3.5 million dollars in losses. This entire process took 34 days to complete. Undoubtedly, it was a massive win for the client. Furthermore, post the settlement, the company assigns a certified general contractor to execute the project for the scope of repairs in the settlement. iStorm Group’s QA department complements these contractors and follows them through the complete process, securing the depreciation that was held back on the claim as well. This entire project was completely built out within 60 days of project contract.

Moving Forward with a Fair Sense of Responsibility

“I am not a fan of human suffering. When the hurricanes come in, obliterating cities, it is hard on me, personally. So, chasing storms just for profit is not what I want to do,” explains a modest Deddens. On the 10th of December, 2001, Deddens and his wife, unfortunately, lost their twin sons eight and a half months into the pregnancy, which, as anybody can imagine, is an insufferable trauma. But that did not keep the Deddens down. They got right back up with a can-do attitude, established the Drew and Cole Deddens foundation to fend off deadly prenatal and childhood diseases.

iStorm Group, with its unique and honest approach to settling insurance claims, currently monitors over 1400 properties across 31 states. On completing its tenth year, the company had completed 100 million dollars in project revenues settled on behalf of its clients—an incredible feat to accomplish within a decade.

When asked about the future of the company, Deddens said that if we exceeed expectations, results will follow. He firmly believes that an organization is part of its founder’s DNA, and keeping the big picture in mind is the way to go. Moving forward, iStorm Group is set to witness a complete rebranding process with a talented, and trusting group of professionals effectuating Deddens’ vision. The company has launched very sophisticated marketing campaigns focusing on storytelling. “We need to get our story out. It is a streamlined message that immediately communicates to property owners that they are at risk, and we can help,” concludes Deddens.