Understory’s award-winning agricultural insurance solutions benefit farmers

Posted on October 20, 2020

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Farmers work hard to reduce risk in their operations, but one factor is impossible to control: Mother Nature. Understory is in the business of helping farmers manage the risks associated with the unpredictability of weather. 

Understory is the first company with proprietary weather sensors to successfully offer parametric insurance products covering severe weather risks like hail and frost. Headquartered in Madison WI, Understory recently set up operations in Saskatchewan to take advantage of opportunities in Western Canadian. 

“Saskatchewan’s deep roots in agriculture and access to a wealth of talent makes it a great hub for Canadian activities,” says Darcy Pawlik, Vice President of Global Product and Agriculture. “Also, Alberta and Saskatchewan have a high incidence of hail, which fits with the key differentiator our technology provides.”

Since 2005, most economic losses caused by severe weather were uninsured, according to a recent analysis by Aon. As climate change accelerates, this protection gap is only growing worse. No industry is more vulnerable than agriculture, leaving countless livelihoods at risk and in need of new insurance solutions.

Understory’s unprecedented, ground-truth weather data, delivered by its accurate, maintenance-free and fraud-proof Dot weather sensors, ensures quick claim payouts to climate-vulnerable industries including auto and agriculture. 

Pawlik says the Dot sensor is the most accurate weather sensor that can be affordably deployed. When coupled with our proprietary algorithms generated by detailed observation of well over 300 storms, it enables Understory to assess and price any weather risk in the world with precision. 

Understory matches machine-learned experiences with controlled storm simulations, allowing the company to associate each weather event with the resulting crop damage. 

After accumulating an unrivaled database of severe weather events, Understory launched its first parametric hail insurance product for the U.S. retail automotive market in November 2019. The company is in the midst of launching parallel products with expanded perils to the agricultural market later this year. When severe weather strikes and triggers the parametric insurance policy, Understory detects it which quickly triggers a payout delivered by the insurer. Understory's data-driven approach ensures capital can quickly flow where it is needed most after a disaster, protecting the world's food supply.

"As severe weather risk increases, many farmers in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world can no longer find coverage. The policies that remain are often unaffordable, even with heavy government subsidies, and require lengthy, burdensome claims processes," says Pawlik. "Our technology is delivering a step change in agricultural insurance and closing the protection gap."

Understory was recently awarded 'AgTech Insurance Solution of the Year' by AgTech Breakthrough, a leading market intelligence company whose mission is to honor excellence and recognize innovation in a range of agricultural and food technology categories, including Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) based agricultural technologies, farm management, indoor farming, food quality, data analytics and many more.

This year's program attracted more than 1,750 nominations from 15 different countries. Understory was recognized for transforming agricultural insurance with its innovative insurance product. 

"Understory's one-of-a-kind solution is bringing about a paradigm shift in the crop insurance industry," says Bryan Vaughn, Managing Director of AgTech Breakthrough Awards. "We are honored to award Understory the award for AgTech Insurance Solution of the Year for their industry-changing agriculture insurance product."

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