FloodFlash, the first insurance provider to pay catastrophic flood claims within 48 hours, recently announced its Series A raise of $15m. The round was led by Buoyant Ventures, featuring Munich Re Ventures. The firm offers the first parametric flood insurance available to the mass market by combining computer models, cloud software, and connected technology to provide flood coverage to flood victims. Adam Rimmer, CEO and co-founder of FloodFlash will be telling us more in this interview with TechBullion.
Please tell us more about yourself?
I’m Adam Rimmer, CEO and co-founder at FloodFlash. I met my co-founder Ian while working at RMS, the world’s largest catastrophe modelling firm. Whilst there, we structured and modelled triggers on over $2bn of insurance products called ‘parametric catastrophe bonds’ to protect governments and large corporations, where their settlement is based on a measurement like water depth, wind speed, or earthquake magnitude. We saw the potential that this type of insurance had to protect everyone, not just the biggest spenders. So we took the principles and created FloodFlash, a scalable platform that uses IoT technology and a cloud-based underwriting platform to provide rapid-payout insurance to all those that need it.
When I’m not in CEO-mode, you can probably find me chasing after a ball of some description (rugby or basketball depending on the day) or chasing after my twin boys who we were blessed with towards the end of last year.
What is FloodFlash and what unique services do you provide?
FloodFlash is an insurance technology company that combines computer models, cloud software, and internet-of-things sensors into flood cover that protects those the insurance industry has left behind. It is the first parametric flood insurance available to the mass market. Each customer chooses a depth of flooding and how much they’d receive when floods reach that depth. When the smart sensor installed at their property detects floodwater at the chosen depth, the claim is paid in full.
Since our 2019 launch, FloodFlash has been one of the front runners in the global parametric movement. Our cover has set new standards for simple, transparent insurance, paying claims in record times (9 hours and 44 minutes is our record) and protecting thousands that can’t get cover anywhere else, winning over 30 UK industry awards.
FloodFlash Raises $15m Series A led by Buoyant Ventures and Featuring Munich Re Ventures, how excited are you about this and how will the funds be used?
The purpose of this raise is to accelerate the next phase. We’ve already made a dent in the UK flood underinsurance problem. The US is next. It is the market with the costliest flood losses of any in the world. Despite the risks, fewer than 5% of small to midsize businesses carry flood insurance. This needs to change. And we’re going to be the ones to change it.
That change wouldn’t happen without the support from our awesome panel of investors. We have a fantastic syndicate led by Amy Francetic of Buoyant Ventures. Each investor shares our vision and ambition to protect more people using parametric insurance. Together they bring a diverse set of experience from climate tech, through insurance, to real estate (a sector that accounts for over 30% of our customers, and one that is particularly exposed to this risk). It’s hard to imagine being better set up to take on the challenges ahead.
What are catastrophic flood claims, could you enlighten us more on this and what it entails?
Catastrophic flood claims happen when flooding extreme weather damages an insured property. The flooding generally emerges from three key perils: coastal (e.g. hurricane-driven storm surge), river (when they burst their banks) and surface water (caused by intense rainfall, also known as flash flooding). When natural or manmade water management systems are overwhelmed, flooding can cause huge amounts of damage to property. According to NOAA, inland flooding alone caused more than $151bn in damages across the US in the last 40 years – that value doesn’t include hurricane flooding.
FloodFlash is the first parametric flood insurance available to the mass market, tell us more about the technology behind the ecosystem?
There are three key tech pillars that sit behind every policy. The most visible is our smart sensor. This is installed at the customer’s property and measures flood depths. It is fully self-sufficient with no need for power or internet connection, is tamper and fraud tested and has a battery life of over 10 years before. The sensor provides the data for each claim.
Alongside the sensor is the cloud-based underwriting platform. The platform gives brokers and customers access to FloodFlash at scale, reducing the distribution costs dramatically. The platform is the window into the third pillar which is our underwriting algorithms. Each price that they generate is specific to a single property. This means that prices reflect the risk and customers aren’t punished for being in a particular zone.
What were the prevalent flood recovery challenges before now, and how is rapid payout insurance changing the way landlords and businesses recover from flooding?
Traditional flood claims require the insurer to calculate the value of the damage in a process called loss adjustment. This is a time-intensive process that often involves visits to the property, interviews, and desktop assessments. The upshot is that a typical payment time from flood to cash in the bank can be months, if not years for more complex cases. A particular problem is calculating the cost of a client’s business being interrupted by the flood – a process that can involve the insurer spending more on forensic accountants than the claim itself!
FloodFlash removes a lot of the complexity and costs from the claim by asking the customer two simple questions. What depth of flooding do you want to insure for? And how much would your business need to recover if that flood were to occur? We attach a smart sensor to the property that measures the flood depths. As soon as flooding reaches the customer’s selected trigger depth, we pay them the payout they have selected – usually within 48 hours. There are many benefits from this approach: customers know what they are going to receive beforehand so can plan their recovery ahead of time, mold, damp and business interruption costs are reduced due to the faster payout and recovery, and there is less stress during what is normally a very difficult time in people’s lives.
The reason why this approach works is simple. FloodFlash policies do not need to carry out the loss adjustment process as the payout is pre-agreed. That reduces costs and time, but also uncertainty, because FloodFlash does not need to include damage probability calculations in the underwriting process. The upshot is more confidence when setting premiums, which in many cases means a more affordable premium.
What level of flooding and amount of claims do you work with?
Today, FloodFlash is available to all businesses and landlords in the UK. That means our claims range dramatically from a residential property all the way up to a football stadium or power plant. Similarly, the level of flooding that we insure is entirely up to the customer. Some want to insure for the lowest possible depth, say 20cm from ground level. Others might have flood defenses in place, or have raised valuable equipment, so they can choose a much higher trigger depth. The customer is in complete control, and this ‘parametric’ mechanism aligns incentives between the insurer and the insured to have flood resilience measures in place, in a way that isn’t possible with traditional cover. When we think about how to insure a world with a rapidly changing climate, it can’t be done without that incentive structure.
Will FloodFlash help regardless of any flood history? How does the flood claim application work from start to finish?
We pride ourselves on having a simple quote process. Once the broker or customer has identified the property they want to attach the sensor to, there are a few simple questions before submitting. The usual quote request takes less than 2 minutes.
In terms of approvals, FloodFlash doesn’t refuse to quote just because a property has flooded before. In the UK we find that FloodFlash provides quotes in over 97% of cases where traditional flood providers are walking away. Provided the data is available for us to generate a price, we offer one.
FloodFlash has already made an impact on the UK flood underinsurance problem, please could you share some of your success stories with us?
Absolutely! We now insure a wide range of businesses across the country. From the top of Scotland all the way down to the tip of Cornwall. Many of those that take FloodFlash policies out don’t have access to affordable cover anywhere else. It’s not just the policies though, we already have some fantastic stories of customers recovering quickly thanks to our rapid payouts. We interviewed some of our claimants after Storm Ciara in 2020 and were blown away by their responses.
We can’t wait to create similar stories in the US and around the world.
We like your business, do you have more available opportunities for investors and partners at FloodFlash?
Having just closed the Series A, we’re not looking for more investment right now. That said, we’re always up for connecting in the future. In terms of partnerships, we’re currently working towards launching in the US and are recruiting distribution partners. If you want to get in touch for any reason just add me on LinkedIn or email firstname.lastname@example.org