Insurance Company Advisor Cuts Out the Middle Man
A software developer with a focus on quantifying weather risk in the insurance industry has branched out to apply its chops to the development of a hyperlocal software-as-a-service weather risk-management system for construction that launched Jan. 29. The developers partnered with the Associated General Contractors of America to trial the software with industry users. They claim the system can help contractors predict and mitigate downtime or damage due to foul weather delays.
“It’s not your daddy’s weather service,” says Michael Kennedy, general counsel at AGC, about the new product, called GaugeConstruction. The AGC partnered with developer Athenium Analytics by supplying the code writers with contractor beta testers for a year to tune up the product to address real industry needs.
“It is unlike anything the industry has ever seen,” says Kennedy. “The weather has always been and always will be a factor in construction, and AGC foresaw an opportunity to advance the ball in an area that many have long taken for granted.”
Athenium Analytics’s prior work has provided insurance companies with risk assessments related to weather. GaugeConstruction is the result of an initiative to tailored its capabilities to serve construction companies directly by redirecting its expertise to “provide risk assessment, weather analytics and operational improvement tools to help clients understand and minimize their toughest risks,” according to Athenium Analytics’s self description. Kyle Davis, Athenium Analytics's vice president for market and corporate development, says the service features "significant functionality built around the specific risks inherent in each phase of construction."
Kennedy says Athenium has accumulated weather data from the National Weather Service and many other sources throughout the world for 40 years. The data is aggregated and used to predict weather for localized areas as granular as 0.3-sq-miles. The dashboard can deliver weekly risk scores so contractors can schedule around predictions. “It’s this granularity where GaugeConstruction shines,” says Kennedy.
Bill Pardue, Athenium chairman and CEO, says the company’s expertise in natural hazard risk and predictive modeling has enabled it to create customized systems for alerting its insurance industry customers to rising risks. “The same data analysis that provides dashboard solutions for insurance has a great applicability to assist general contractors in solving their business challenges,” Pardue said in a statement issued at product launch.
Kennedy offers the example of scheduling equipment activity: “Maybe you’re planning a large pick next week and you look at the forecast and can change the schedule around on account of it,” he says. “And after the fact, you can document the weather conditions on your site every day, so you can essentially eliminate disputes of what the weather conditions were like on the site.” That would provide a shield against disputes. Another application could be in documenting compliance with regulations. “On some jobs, if you get more than half an inch of rainfall you’re required by your stormwater permits to do a visual inspection,” says Kennedy. “How do you argue if it’s ¼ or ½ inch? This is a great way to prove it.”
GaugeConstruction also warns users about incoming hail, snow, wind gusts and a host of other weather perils.
“Weather is one of those things that can result in catastrophic damages,” says Kennedy. “It can also have a way of eroding margins where margins are notoriously thin. If their weather forecasts can help contractors by a few percentage points in one area, you multiply that across the whole country and it adds up to saving the industry a lot of money.”
The product is available to AGC members at a 30% discount. Pricing is tiered by the number of project sites, from one, to five, to ten, to 20 sites. Each plan supports unlimited users and alerts and offers a seven-day free trial. The undiscounted price for a single site is $139 per month, or $1,399 a year. The 20-site plan costs $979 per month, or $9,799 a year.