Liberty partners with insurtech to offer digitally distributed coverage for drone users
Insurtech company REIN has launched DroneInsurance.com, with underwriting by Liberty Specialty Markets, providing usage-based insurance for commercial drone operators and simplifying the process of obtaining both base and liability coverage.
The product is the startup's first since obtaining $7.3 million in venture funding, secured from individual investors, including from Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures and Kiplin Capital. The funding has allowed REIN to build the flexible and data-driven platform, automated to allow for a paperless and streamlined application process.
Operates can insure their drones year-round, paying a set monthly amount per drone, and then choose to purchase flight liability coverage on a project-by-project, on-demand basis for as little as one day and as long as one year.
“Our underwriting is relatively sophisticated, in the sense that we can take very few bits of data and we can correlate that directly to price, and you can find it right away,” REIN co-founder and COO Jason Griswold explains. “So, you just have to sign up, answer a few questions, and then you can go in there and say: ‘Here’s my project, here are my dates, and here’s my use case, and now I want to get my price.’ It’s pretty intuitive.“
A sample cost breakdown is provided as an example for potential customers, but rates vary based upon factors such as manufacturer model, insured value, and the number of drones one has insured with base coverage. Customers can check their rates upon submitting an application.
DroneInsurance.com’s offerings are currently available in a 44 U.S. states, the only exceptions being Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia. The decision process for not including those six states has to do with “timing, and regulatory, and product perspective, not an operational perspective,” according to Griswold.
Coverage will also extend internationally, provided there are no conflicts with regional laws, such as wholesale banning of the flying of drones. A full list of countries and regions where coverage does not apply is available at DroneInsurance.com. “We designed it where, other than some of the places that are not sanctioned by the government, you can fly pretty much anywhere,” Griswold says.
While the need for the product became apparent years prior, the work on the platform itself took approximately two years to complete. Griswold, who has experience in the aviation sector having previously founded Brown Aviation Lease, a fleet management company, says he and other operators found themselves filling out 12-page documents that were largely not applicable to the flying of drones.
“Some of our other investors have been in the aviation business (as well), and really this was probably four years ago where we started to look at the drone space and try to understand it, both as entrepreneurs and operators and investors,” he explains. Insurance forms “were very manned-aviation centric, so we knew if the business was going to scale and grow, that we really had to rethink how to approach and deliver better data-driven policies, and the different types of unique coverage that the market was looking for.”
“At Liberty Specialty Markets, we have a chance to match REIN’s market-leading technology, distribution system and data proficiency with innovative insurance policies to create a best-in-class solution for the drone market,” said Mike Gosselin, Chief Underwriting Officer at Liberty Specialty Markets, in a statement. “Technology is rapidly changing the insurance landscape, so partnering with REIN to launch DroneInsurance.com makes perfect sense to meet this increasing demand.”
While DroneInsurance.com is the first product of its kind offered by the company, it likely will not be the last.
“I think you’ll see us build more enterprise tools, to help bigger, larger companies,” Griswold predicts. “But we’ve seen a really interesting mix of customers (utilizing DroneInsurance.com’s offerings), running the gamut of small business – lots in aerial photography work. It’s really interesting to see all the different use cases that are coming to the platform.”