Descartes Underwriting: the new generation of insurance

Can you explain what types of insurance Descartes Underwriting offers?

Descartes Underwriting offers so-called parametric insurance. They change the paradigm compared to traditional insurance. We set thresholds with the client – ​​water level, wind speed, etc. – and the compensation they wish to receive. As soon as the threshold is exceeded, the payment takes place immediately. No need to bring in experts, events – floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. – are detected entirely remotely thanks to new technologies, and in particular satellite imagery and connected objects.

Why did you choose this name?

Like the mathematician, physicist and philosopher René Descartes, we are convinced that it is necessary to question the certainties in insurance, to better reinvent it, with more simplicity and breaking with historical dogma.

What technologies does your company use?

We use a million times more data than a traditional insurer: our data comes from connected objects, satellite images, on-site sensors, radars and sources from official agencies. We are notably partners of the European Space Agency, we have developed image analysis algorithms to detect forest fires in real time, we have established partnerships with companies at the forefront of flood detection, in particular ICEYE recently.

Why did you choose to get into parametric insurance?

We made three observations. The first is that of the multiplication in frequency and intensity of climatic events, including cyclones, major droughts or even waves of frost, under the influence of climate change. The second concerns access to new technologies to optimize the insurance of Major Risks: little used by traditional insurers, they are nevertheless intended to allow detection of claims in real time, total transparency and much faster payment. Finally, the traditional insurance market has entered a cycle of capacity reductions and rising premiums, under the pressure of recent major climatic events such as storm Ida in the United States which caused a loss of more than forty million dollars. We want to allow our customers to be reimbursed in a few days, up to their needs so that they can rebuild without wasting time.

Your presence is international?

Our headquarters are in Paris and our team of fifty employees is located between Paris, London, Houston, New York, Sydney, and Singapore. We opened these international hubs in less than a year – they meet the specific needs of brokers and our two hundred clients worldwide.

What is your target?

We work with brokers for large corporations and governments. Climate risks weigh more and more heavily on the balance sheets and operations of companies, and call for new needs for protection and resilience. We insure all sectors of activity, for their specific exposures to natural risks – from the hotel industry in the Pacific Islands to telecommunications that operate overhead transmission lines, and from agriculture, to the front lines of climate change, to renewable energy. We also insure governments and local authorities – in April 2020 in particular, the PCRIC, of ​​which we are one of the insurers, compensated the Tonga islands for the passage of cyclone Harold, while on-site expertise would have been impossible in the midst of an epidemic of Covid.

Can you tell us more about the offers you offer to your customers?

We offer four different categories of cover depending on the activity of our customers. Cover for natural disasters of course – hurricanes, cyclones, floods, forest fires, earthquakes, etc. – but also covers dedicated to the agricultural sector – against frost, hail, or to protect yields -, to the energy sector renewables – to cover the lack of wind for wind power for example – and finally to the logistics sector, with coverage for operating losses and damage.

According to you, what are the added values ​​of your company?

More transparent, faster, more personalized and with reduced premiums compared to traditional insurance: the parametric insurance solutions offered by Descartes represent a revolution in the business insurance sector. We protect companies with capacities of up to two hundred million per contract, which places us among the leading players in the field of professional insurance.

What are the challenges of Descartes Underwriting?

We aim to become the leader in parametric insurance. It is essential for us to continue and strengthen our support for brokers and clients, for whom resilience is a key issue in the context of climate change.

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