ITC DIA Europe

Understory: Harnessing the power of ground-truth data for insurers

Written by Roger Peverelli and Reggy de Feniks - Founders The DIA Community on Nov 3, 2017

Understory is a US based smart weather hardware and analytics company. It manufactures, deploys, and operates weather networks inside metropolitan areas to create unprecedented details of how weather affects people and businesses at ground level. P&C insurance carriers that utilize their analytics are able to streamline claims processing, optimize adjuster assignment and improve customer satisfaction. Understory owns and operates hail sensing networks in Dallas, Kansas City, St. Louis, Denver, and Houston. Clients include P&C insurance carriers from a top 5, top 25, and regional carriers.

The company, named after the area in a rainforest beneath the forest canopy, detects rain, hail, wind and other weather events directly at the earth’s surface, where the risk to life and property is greatest. While traditional radar-enabled weather centers collect data by analyzing conditions observed in the atmosphere, Understory’s ground-truth-based detection is a marked enhancement in both resolution and fidelity. Understory provides real time datasets and graphical views of the movement and intensity of weather events, which leads to better insight and early detection of risks. The data applications for Understory’s sensors are enormous, as $485 billion of the U.S. economy fluctuates with weather. This new, sensor-enabled big data impact insurance, agriculture, utility companies and many other industries.

Understory’s incredibly dense networks of RT allows them to collect data on weather events that is both comprehensive and hyper-localized. Unlike current radar technologies and public spotter reports, Understory’s network data provides parcel-level accuracy, which gives claims adjusters a better understanding of household specific roof, siding, window, and gutter damage without leaving their desk.

15% cost savings
Unlike radar based solutions that predict the impact of weather from measuring the sky, Understory deploys and operates networks of patented ground-based weather stations with technologically advanced sensors that provide actionable information. Delivering real-time data on rain, wind, and hailstone impacts; the hail momentum, impact angle, and size distribution over a property’s roof and siding. They have proven in claims operations how Understory achieves a 10%-16% cost reduction from major storm events and non-major storms resulting in an average savings of $100 per policyholder. On average, Understory demonstrated a 20x ROI by augmenting their analytics into the workflow. The savings focus on three major areas – attacking the tail end of the claims cycle, rejecting highly unlikely claims, and optimizing adjuster assignments.

Proactive communication to prevent incidents
Understory has a white-labeled weather and home safety app that allows insurers to communicate directly with their customers. When homeowners use the Shine Hyper-local Weather app, the insurer can easily help them know what to do to prevent potential property damage. For instance, frozen pipes a danger this weekend? They can inform their customers that their thermostat should be set to 60 degrees as a precaution.

Insurance companies, such as Pacific Specialty, are using Understory’s data and analytics to improve how weather-related property damage is understood and handled within their organizations. They are able to better manage hail events, which improves their accuracy, efficiency, and their customer experience.

Why we selected Understory for DIA Munich
Weather impacts everything. Understory’s networks are powering unprecedented insight gains into how weather impacts both property and business. Insurance companies who are using Understory’s data and analytics, to improve how weather-related property damage is understood and handled within their organizations, are able to better manage weather events, which will improve their accuracy, efficiency, and, most importantly, their customer experience.

Understory’s technology has initial applications in personal property and commercial claims in P&C insurance. The same technology and analytics can be expanded to prove applications in underwriting, crop insurance, and reinsurance.

Who is Understory?
Understory was founded in 2012. They received an institutional seed financing of $2M lead by True Ventures with participation by RRE and a Series A financing of $7.5M lead by 4490 Ventures and strategic participation by Monsanto.

The company plans to be in 75 cities by the beginning of 2020, covering over 50% of storm losses seen by the P&C industry. The Minnesota based company was recently voted a Silver Winner for innovation. Being recognized with an Edison Award has become one of the highest accolades a company can receive in the name of innovation.

Co-founder Alex Kubicek, lifelong passion of weather drove him to create awarding winning curriculum for Weather and Climate 101 at UW-Madison, receive “Outstanding M.S. Thesis” for his work on cloud microphysics and hail formation. He has a M.S. in Atmospheric Science from UW-Madison, a B.S. in Physics from UW-Whitewater, and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UW-Madison.

Alex Kubicek, CEO and Co-founder Understory Weather 


Presenter 1: Alexander Kubicek
Presenter 2: Eric Hewitt

Contact info: Sarah Graf
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +608 416 7752

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