Natural disasters including Midwestern windstorms, Gulf Coast hurricanes and West Coast wildfires have wreaked havoc for millions of Americans this year. Settling insurance claims and rebuilding after a disaster is a burdensome task, and all the harder during a global pandemic.
That’s where Louisville-based insurance tech startup WeatherCheck comes in. The four-year-old company collects data from dozens of sources — including FEMA and mapping-software maker Esri — to build a detailed model of weather damage across the U.S. and Canada. That data helps individuals, mortgage lenders, corporations and insurers prepare for natural disasters before they happen — and also process claims much faster after damage occurs.
“Almost 80% of Americans who own property or are renting have an insurance policy,” says Demetrius Gray, the 32-year-old cofounder and CEO of WeatherCheck. “When one of our users has a particular loss, we step in and help them advance those dollars. We’ve been able to reach out directly and say, ‘hey, we’re here to support you.’”
Before the pandemic, the company made most of its revenues selling data subscriptions to insurance companies and property owners. For a fee, customers can use WeatherCheck to access damage reports for all their properties and use a live monitoring tool to prepare for upcoming storms or hurricanes. When the virus began to spread, that business took a hit. As state governors imposed stay-at-home orders in March, the firm cut its sales forecast for the year by 20%.
“Our primary imperative internally is to sell to insurance companies and agents and brokers,” says Gray. “Back in March, there were a number of companies that said, based on this uncertainty, we’re not making any decisions.”
The pandemic also opened up new opportunities for the company. With customers facing a harder