Metlife Partners with Zesty.ai to Predict Wildfire Risk

Sep 30, 2019

Originally Published On Axios

Insurers deploy AI against California's Wildfire Crisis

By Kaveh Waddell

The Zest

To keep up with California's unrelenting wildfire threat, some insurers are now turning to AI to predict fire risk with unprecedented, structure-by-structure detail.

Why it matters: This will allow them to cover homes in areas that they would otherwise have passed over — but potentially at the cost of hiking rates for those who can least afford it.

The big picture: Spooked by a recent surge in destructive fires that shows no sign of cooling off, insurers have backed away from underwriting in the most flammable parts of the state. They say the risk is sky-high, and there's too much uncertainty about where fire will strike next and what it will consume.

Now, some insurers are getting creative. They are trying to pack in as much data as possible: information from building permits, records and codes — and, increasingly, satellite photos and aerial imagery from drones and aircraft.

  • Automatically analyzing super-detailed, top-down images helps insurers understand crucial, property-specific risk factors.
  • Some important ones: how close a house is to vegetation, how flammable that brush is and what the house's roof is made of.

Driving the news: MetLife announced this week that it's working with a Bay Area startup, Zesty.ai, to use this type of data for property-level scoring.

  • Zesty.ai predicts risk based on building information, aerial imagery, patterns gleaned from examining decades of wildfires and data from fire scientists.
  • MetLife has been extra conservative in fire areas, VP Carol Anderson tells Axios, in part because it has relied on traditional maps to assess risk.
  • When MetLife implements the new scoring system early next year, it hopes to bring in new customers and retain old ones, Anderson says.

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About Zesty.ai

Zesty.ai harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to help the trillion-dollar global property and casualty insurance industry accelerate its digital transformation.  Using the latest advancements in artificial intelligence on 115+Bn data points on residential and commercial properties, Zesty.ai extracts key building features to accurately model the potential impact of catastrophic and attritional loss events.  The same risk insights enable a new age, data-driven dialogue between insurers, customers, agents and regulators.  Zesty.ai was named “Cool Vendor in Insurance” by Gartner in 2019, won the Silver Award at the Zurich Innovation World Championship in 2019 and was voted “The Most Innovative InsurTech Startup” by Plug & Play members in 2018 For more information, visit zesty.ai