Heritage Insurance has long been a key player in providing insurance for properties in catastrophe-prone areas. As the carrier expanded to wildfire-prone states such as California, they discovered that the traditional methods of assessing wildfire risk lacked the granularity they needed for accurate risk segmentation. Heritage needed a more accurate method to measure and quantify the wildfire risk they were writing.
- Strategic Shift
Recognizing the need for a more refined approach, Heritage embarked on a strategic shift to choose a new wildfire risk partner. ZestyAI's Z-FIRE delivered granular, property-level risk assessment with surgical precision, far surpassing the capabilities of traditional methods and legacy providers.
The integration of Z-FIRE into Heritage’s operations was both smooth and impactful. The underwriting team, initially accustomed to conventional methods, found the level of detail and accuracy in the data refreshing. This not only transformed Heritage’s underwriting processes but also provided a new lens through which risk was viewed and managed. The data enabled a more nuanced understanding of risks, allowing for more informed decision-making and aligning with Heritage’s risk appetite.
- Outcome & Future
The adoption of Z-FIRE enhanced underwriting accuracy and improved risk management practices. This has led to more confident decision-making, particularly in underwriting properties in fire-prone areas. The impact extended to reinsurance relationships as well, with better data driving improved terms, conditions, and pricing.
The Right Partner
Whether you’re struggling to find accurate property insights or to underwrite climate risks, finding the right partner is crucial and isn’t always obvious.
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Stories From Our Customers & Partners
A legacy book consists of the accumulation, over several years, of various sub-portfolios with different risk profiles based on different underwriting frameworks. A top-10 national carrier approached ZestyAI with a legacy book filled with properties of unknown risk and a worsening loss ratio.
Without any investment in IT resources, ZestyAI and the carrier began a three-stage process: defining the scope of the review, assessing the risk of the book, and acting on the high-risk policies.
Thanks to this simple workflow, the insurer was able to isolate the riskiest properties in their legacy book, assign the appropriate action to address this risk, and assure the continued profitability of their book. The carrier improved its action rate to approximately 60% on manually reviewed properties.
Finding an Effective Partner for Identifying & Managing Risk
Millennial Specialty Insurance is a dynamic player in the home insurance industry. As a tech-forward company, they have made significant strides in the last five years in catastrophe-exposed locations that have been traditionally underserved by national carriers.
The journey wasn't without its hurdles. Millennial Speciality started in the challenging market of Florida and soon realized the limitations of traditional risk models when expanding across the US. The standard models, suitable for Florida, fell short in accurately assessing the complexities of wildfire risks, such as in California. This gap in risk assessment posed a significant challenge, highlighting the need for an innovative solution.
- ZestyAI's Role
Seeking a partner that could rapidly scale and match Millennial Specialty’s pace of innovation, they turned to ZestyAI. The partnership was a natural fit, given ZestyAI's expertise in providing climate risk models crucial for underwriting and rating. ZestyAI offered more than just technological solutions; they understood the unique business needs of Millennial Specialty, making them an ideal partner in tackling the intricate Californian market.
With ZestyAI's advanced risk assessment tools, Millennial Specialty could differentiate exposure risks and structural susceptibility at a granular level. This not only allowed them to navigate the Californian market more effectively but also to insure homes in wildfire-prone areas that other companies might have avoided. This strategic partnership enabled Millennial Specialty to expand its reach and offer insurance solutions to a broader range of homeowners, standing out in terms of both technology and strategy in a competitive industry.
In Their Words...
Historically, wildfire has been challenging to model; traditional models and Fire Hazard Severity Zone maps tend to lack the granularity needed to assess risk accurately. That not only leaves insurers with major losses but also affects their relationship with re-insurers.
- Ongoing Joint Success
- Multiple rate filings that make use of Z-FIRE™, which was independently reviewed and evaluated by Aon’s catastrophe risk experts, have been approved by the California Department of Insurance.
- “Our collaboration with ZestyAI is part of Aon’s technological evolution to deliver new products that meet clients’ needs today and tomorrow, in a transparent and efficient way.” - George deMenocal CEO of Aon’s U.S. Reinsurance Solutions
- Z-FIRE™ enhances insurers’ risk selection and rate setting, while understanding the impact of climate change on wildfires and in turn their portfolios.
Watch: Milliman & ZestyAI - What’s Revolutionary about Z-FIRE?
- Statewide Problem
Wildfires have caused several insurers to leave the state of California or pause the writing of new policies. This crisis left many homeowners without insurance or with very limited options.
- A Win For California
- “Farmers Insurance today announced it has integrated ZestyAI's wildfire risk scoring model (Z-FIRE™) into its homeowners insurance underwriting processes --- selectively expanding opportunities for coverage for residences located in certain wildfire-risk areas.” (Farmer Insurance Press Release)
- “Thousands of California residents who only can buy homeowners policies through the state’s last-resort insurance program will now be eligible for Farmers Insurance coverage.” (Wall Street Journal)
- “With Farmers’ promise to write at least 30,000 new policies for homeowners with higher wildlife risk using this new tool, we are glad to see the pendulum swinging in the other direction,” said Michael Soller, a deputy commissioner with California’s Department of Insurance. (Wall Street Journal)
Watch: Milliman & ZestyAI - How to Build A Climate Risk Model
- “In the Golden State alone, eight of the state’s 10-most destructive fires have occurred within the past five years, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire. These fires have caused over $25 billion in insured wildfire-related losses
- “William Pitts, a senior assistant vice president at Rhode Island-based Amica Mutual Insurance Company, says that after the company took on heavy losses in the wake of the Tubbs Fire, it began to re-evaluate its wildfire risk models.” (Forbes)
- “As they analyzed their losses, they discovered that CoreLogic had flagged some properties as being low risk to wildfire that actually were not. Amica switched to ZestyAI and its Z-FIRE™ system.”
- “If Z-Fire was used to completely re-underwrite Amica’s entire California portfolio, in 2020 Amica would have prevented 95% of its wildfire losses in the state,” said William Pitts, Senior Assistant Vice President, at Amica.
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