Severe weather has increased the need for businesses such as Springfield-based water mitigation specialist CodeBlue.
CodeBlue, which acts as a liaison between insurance companies, home/business owners and contractors, has seen so much extra business from the combination of Hurricane Sandy in the northeast part of the country and unusually low temperatures in the south that it hired 20 people in the last two months.
In the last three months, the company has seen a 40 percent to 50 percent increase in calls to the customer service center, located in the Bushnell Building, said Mike Anderson, CodeBlue senior vice president of operations..
When Hurricane Sandy hit in late October, call volumes increased 25 to 30 percent during a two-week period, Anderson said.
“We were getting calls from individuals who may have evacuated their homes who came back to see various levels of disaster,” Anderson said.
He said many natural disaster losses are not covered by insurance, and most of their work is through insurance clients.
“It isn’t necessarily covered in all cases, but we were still called out and still did an inspection,” Anderson said. “There was an impact in the number of calls and number of requests to offer assistance. Some of those cases we weren’t able to assist all the way through.”
But starting in November and December, Anderson said CodeBlue started experiencing more calls because of cold weather, especially in the south.
“Volume has increased immensely in the last couple weeks, and (cold weather) is where we can help,” Anderson said. “With damaged pipes and water damage, that is accidental and sudden and always covered by insurance policies.”
Anderson said the insurance industry follows weather patterns.
“We’ll probably continue to see a spike in volume until we see (the cold) clear through U.S. then see warmer temperatures,” Anderson said. “As long as weather patterns are going through basically the whole U.S., we’re affected all the way through. I think we might see this for 3 or 4 more days.”
In just one week, CodeBlue saw a 50 percent increase in call volume over the week before.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Myron Padgett said the current cold snap is not record breaking but feels unusual compared to the last few mild winters.
“We were kind of spoiled last winter,” Padgett said. “It was very mild and we didn’t see this kind of weather. But it swings in with warmer temperatures.”
Earlier in January the area saw temperatures in the 60-degree range, last week temperatures were in the single digits.
“That’s the main thing about it, it’s quite variable,” Padgett said. “It looks like we’re going to be cold through (last) week and it looks like it will warm up again (this) week up into the 50s for highs by Monday and Tuesday.”
The cold snap lasted long enough to allow CodeBlue to grow. Even though the company just hired 20, bringing the employment total to 175 workers, CodeBlue will be hiring an additional 15 people in the coming weeks.
“We are hiring due to growth plans as we are seeing a number of new clients coming on board,” Anderson said. “And because of this being our peak season — if you had seasonality in claims — because of cold temperatures, we’ve been in the hiring mode for the last couple of months.”