No one ever sees Matt Igou’s team working, although ironically, that’s precisely what makes them so good. As owner of Seaside Claims Services, it’s Igou and his team’s job to surreptitiously collect intel for insurance defense attorneys and insurance companies. Licensed to conduct investigations in both Florida and Georgia, they do this through a variety of services including surveillance, combing through social media networks and open-source information, canvassing medical facilities, background investigations, recorded statements, locating hard to find individuals and more.
“We have two sides to our business,” notes Igou. “One is investigations for insurance defense. We investigate the allegations of a claim, such as bodily injury, which includes conducting surveillance on individuals who brought a liability or workers’ compensation claim against our client. Other investigations include social media research, locating witnesses, and medical facility canvassing. A medical canvass provides our clients, the insurance defense attorney, with information regarding where the individual has been treated in the past or where they fill their prescriptions. That information can go back several years. Of course, we don’t obtain any HIPPA information, just if they had been treated at that location. This in turn, allows the attorney to subpoena whatever facility for the patient’s files.
“The other side of our business is process service,” he continues. “We serve legal notices of lawsuits, divorce papers, subpoenas, basically any type of writ or legal notice that doesn’t require being a sworn deputy. This service we perform throughout the lower 48 states.”
As a former Marine, Igou was accustomed to action, the kind that pumps adrenaline through the body and sets all senses on high alert.
“I was in an anti-terrorism unit,” he says. “We were trained in surveillance, counter-surveillance, conducting raids, and essentially, we were deployed anywhere in the world within 24 hours of a terrorist attack. It was fun, high speed, got your adrenaline going and when I got out of the Marines I started a wood flooring company, but I just wasn’t satisfied.”
An introduction to a private investigator led him to an occupation that not only matched his unique skill set, but also satisfied his passion for excitement. He launched his company as a one-man operation, and solely through word of mouth the company quickly grew.
“I just really excelled at it and love doing it,” he says. “Surveillance work is a whole different animal, it’s very interesting, keeps your blood flowing and I just keep coming back for more.”
Igou’s dedication to his work is evident, such as the time he spent eight hours in a tree.
“I’ve been in the woods NOT on private property in a ghillie suit videotaping individuals who don’t think they’re being watched,” he says. “One time, in an effort to video tape my subject, I had to be especially creative because he had put the entire neighborhood on high alert. I ended up parking about a half mile down the road at a gas station and walked to the adjoining woods and climbed up in a tree where I stayed for eight hours in order to get the video I was after.”
Having built a reputation for his unparalleled ability to provide excellent intel as well as locating even the hardest to find people, Igou has certainly had his share of unusual situations.
“I was once hired by a law firm to find an individual. The firm had previously hired two other investigators who were unsuccessfully,” says Igou. “They just needed to serve this guy. It took me about three months, but I found him. He had changed his name, his gender, and had moved to Las Vegas where he was working in underground porn. We found him and got him served.”
In that case, the internet proved vital since Igou finally got the information he needed to track the person down through a website.
Igou began his business in 2010, operating it solo until 2019 when he began hiring additional investigators.
“I decided I wanted to broaden my horizons and hire employees,” he says. “Besides my business had grown so much I really couldn’t handle it all on my own.”
He now has 13 full-time employees as well as a network of 30 vendor partners he works with on a regular basis. Igou says he took advantage of the downtime and restrictions during COVID to build his business.
“During the COVID shutdown, I worked with a productivity coach and had a lot of Zoom meetings,” says Igou. “We drew up the plans and created the model, then I went to work finding people who were committed to being part of an elite organization.”
One of the most important qualities for anyone hired is that they have the same dedication to the clients as Igou. The elite leadership team Igou has assembled represent over 100 years of experience in the claims investigations industry.
“My commitment to my clients is unwavering,” he says. “The entire team is committed to excellence and committed to providing our clients with reviewable video or other evidence that they can use effectively in their defense. What we provide can be and is more often than not integral in preparing their defense against frivolous lawsuits.”
Although, when first starting out Igou handled domestic investigations such as spouses who suspected their partners of cheating, child custody investigations, and bounty hunting, he quickly learned the drama surrounding these cases was more than it was worth. Now his clients are strictly attorneys and insurance companies for whom he gathers the necessary information to launch an effective defense.
Interestingly, Seaside has never really budgeted for advertising or marketing. According to Igou, it’s just never been necessary. Clients are referred to him and his growing reputation for quality service and professionalism precedes him. Word of mouth referrals have been his strongest source for new business.
“I pick up a lot of new business because attorneys will move from one law firm to another,” says Igou. “Our reputation has earned us loyalty from our clients, so they tend to take us along wherever they go. I think that’s a true testament of what we’re doing and how we service our clients. Dedication, perseverance, and a can-do attitude is our formula for success. Basically, we’re out there busting our butts for our clients day in and day out to make sure we get them what they need to do their job.”
Just as he gave so much while serving his country in the United States Marine Corps, Igou continues to give. Last year he launched a referral program that allocates money to various local charitable organizations.
“When one of our current clients refers us to another insurance defense attorney, we donate 10% of our profit from that referral for the first 90 days to a local charity,” Igou says. “We currently rotate the donations throughout the year to four Jacksonville charities. These charities are available to review on our website.
“It’s not so much a matter of how much we donate,” he adds, “it’s just a way for us to support our community, especially those who need it most. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but just wasn’t able to until I built this business. I’m just very grateful, and this is my way of showing that gratitude.”