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State Farm® hits back at catastrophes with research and training

What can a company do when technology moves at the speed of light? Two options: Go faster or become obsolete.

State Farm chose the former. We built three facilities to keep, and in some instances, outpace the industry in training, building standards, and advancing technology for claims handling. Why? To get ahead of catastrophes for faster claim handling, faster payment, and faster recovery for our customers.

In 1995, State Farm opened its Fire Training Center which contained two full-scale, fully-equipped houses, and a classroom to train incoming Claims associates. Several years later, a third home, as well as a burned out manufactured home, was added to expand cause and origin training. Each house in the training center was built with different materials and construction techniques, inside and out.

This training facility is where all new Proximity and Deployed Claim Specialists end their training journey with an invigorating week-long capstone course. Each house has various levels of damage that associates are tasked with identifying and estimating. Damages range from vandalism, fire, water, wind, and hail. Most recently, a fourth three-story structure was added which is used to train Claim Specialists on inspecting roofs.

"We are constantly looking for ways to update and change our Fire Training environment to reflect changes in real life situations," said Shyama Terry, Operations Vice President, Property and Casualty Claims. "State Farm prides itself on training the best people, in the best scenarios available, to help our customers recover from the unexpected, faster."

However, State Farm didn't stop there. We wanted to lead the industry in developing building regulations, codes, and changing standards. In 1999, State Farm opened the Technology Research and Innovation Laboratory (TRAIL) to research building construction techniques, simulate building structures, and test those structures to failure to gain insights and share our findings with the construction industry. We look at new techniques, assess risk, and ask the hard question: Does this make the industry better or worse for our customers?

A vital and cool part of TRAIL is the research done on hurricanes. There are specialists who study hurricanes, the damage suffered from them, and work with national organizations to change building standards. They study the physics of wind, how roofs are put on, and how buildings are attached to the ground to advise on building to withstand hurricanes which cause wide-spread and devastating damage to homes, automobiles, and communities. Just to put it in perspective, in the last 10 years, State Farm paid more than $6.1 BILLION to customers in claims due to hurricane damage.

"The research we do in TRAIL is essential to the resilience of our communities," said Laurel Straub, Assistant Vice President, Enterprise Research. "If our efforts can help improve the strength of customers’ homes to withstand perils and prevent or minimize a loss, we've succeeded in our mission."  

But State Farm doesn't only insure buildings, so what research and testing are we doing in relation to autos? Well, that's where the Vehicle Research Facility (VRF) comes into play. When it first opened in 1995, State Farm associates worked directly with auto manufacturers to receive the newest models available. What did we do with these autos, you ask? We disassembled and reassembled them to make suggestions on the reparability of the auto. This helped manufacturers understand the life of their automobile products after leaving the manufacturer's facility.

Today, the VRF works in a more targeted manner to satisfy customer needs. State Farm reviews trend data on the types of cars and repairs we see our customers filing claims for the most. Then, we work with manufacturers to obtain vehicle specification information, retrieve that model from our salvage yard, complete the repairs, and offer suggestions back to manufacturers on the easiest, safest, and most cost-effective manner to make the repairs.

Why does this matter?

“Although manufacturers do a good job of creating service procedures, the VRF identifies opportunities for improved repairability through data analysis and technical knowledge," said Straub. “We then collaborate with the manufacturers to help develop quality repair processes. The outcomes help our shared customers, State Farm, and the community at large."

Everything State Farm has done in the last 100 years to research, test, train, and change standards is to benefit our customers and our community. We want the buildings where we live and work to be safe. We want the automobiles we drive our loved ones in to be reliable and secure. And for the next 100 years, we won't stop. We won't stop researching. We won't stop testing. We won't stop identifying technology and tactics that help people recover from the unexpected faster.

About State Farm®:

For over 100 years, the mission of State Farm has been to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto and home insurance in the United States. Its more than 19,400 agents and 67,000 employees serve over 91 million policies and accounts – including auto, fire, lifehealth, commercial policies and financial services accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for rentersbusiness ownersboats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 44 on the 2023 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit

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