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Viewspection brings DIY approach to insurance underwriting

Chief Operating Officer Jay Kramer, CEO and co-founder Jim Gardner

Mitigating loss is one of the most challenging and time-consuming parts of underwriting a property. Viewspection, a startup currently going through the Global Insurance Accelerator, is looking to simplify and speed up the process with its DIY app.

How Viewspection works

Viewspection CEO and co-founder Jim Gardner ran a loss control provider, doing inspections for insurance underwriters. The company was trying to come up with a way to capture inspection information on wood stoves and mocked up an app that allowed inspectors to submit photos to underwriters.

“When we got done, I wondered ‘Why can’t we do this on everything?’” Gardner said. With that, the seeds for what became Viewspection were planted.

Currently, property owners contact an inspector who visits a property and submits information to an underwriter. The process can cost around $90 and take up to 30 days to complete.

Using the Viewspection app, policyholders take photos of potentially troublesome spots, like a building’s circuit breaker, and submit them to the underwriter themselves through the app. The app directs the policyholder what to photograph to ensure the underwriter has all the information they need to determine the correct property coverage. Submitting through Viewspection costs $15 and underwriters can turn around the information in as little as a day.

Submitting through Viewspection costs $15 and underwriters can turn around the information in as little as a day.

“A lot of times, underwriting is being done blind,” Gardner said. “They have nothing to look at other than what the agent told them. Underwriters typically want more info, because they’re trying to ensure something without taking a loss. Using Viewspection gives them all the information they could need.”

The underwriters can report back to the policyholder on repairs that need to be made and defects that can be addressed to lower the cost of a policy.

“The underwriters can get policyholders to address issues that could potentially lead to a claim, mitigating their risk,” said Chief Operating Officer Jay Kramer.

How Viewspection got involved in the Global Insurance Accelerator

Gardner first became aware of GIA listening to an episode of the Denim Rivet podcast featuring GIA managing director Brian Hemesath. After attending InsureTech Connect in Las Vegas, Gardner and Kramer felt encouraged to apply to be a part of the accelerator.

“It’s crazy how many forward-thinking insurance carriers are here (in Des Moines),” Gardner said. “We would never have gotten through as many doors in 10 to 20 years as we have in 60 days.”

Viewspection has had six paid pilots through the accelerator and hopes to line up more before their 100-day experience ends.

Why GIA was interested in Viewspection

The Global Insurance Accelerator brought Viewspection to Des Moines in October for InsureTech Week, giving Hemesath and the team at the accelerator a chance to vet the startup.

“We’re very excited about their prospects,” Hemesath said. “We’re holding them to a very high standard of what we expect from them to accomplish. They make inspections much more affordable based on what their tech does. Their product was absolutely of interest to our carriers.”

Looking towards a Midwest home

Viewspection is currently based in Tucson, outside of an insurance hub. Kramer said he’s looking to set up an office in Des Moines and hire a team to get Viewspection a more central location in the insurance industry.

Gardner said the company will probably do an equity round in the next six months to raise money for Viewspection, which will be a new experience for Gardner and Kramer. From there, they’re going to focus on ways for the app to use the big data passing through it.

“One of the big questions we’ve been asked is ‘What are you doing with the data?’” Kramer said. “We’re looking at artificial intelligence and image recognition to see how we can use that data to further improve underwriters’ experiences.”

Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.