The USA, in particular, is repeatedly confronted with severe natural catastrophes such as extreme hurricanes. The east coast is currently preparing for the arrival of “Florence”, a hurricane larger than Germany. In order to accelerate subsequent insurance processes, a Swiss start-up now wants to use the Ethereum blockchain.
In Switzerland, the devastation that a hurricane can cause is only known from the media. The aisles that such a hurricane pulls into the countryside or even into cities testify to the immense destructive rage. After the storm has passed, the insurance industry comes onto the scene. These include insurance agents and agents who are supposed to minimize possible fraud on behalf of insurance companies. But reinsurers, who protect insurance companies, and retrocessionaires, who in turn serve reinsurance companies, are also involved in the processes that trigger such natural disasters.
Minimizing post-disaster chaos
The surviving victims of natural disasters are often dependent on rapid assistance. Especially for those who have literally lost their roof over their heads, any delay in the insurance process means another catastrophe. Due to the complicated insurance system, in which a lot of time is spent checking the actual damage, it can often take weeks or even months before sums insured are paid out.
The Swiss blockchain start-up Etherisc has now set itself the goal of defusing this insurance chaos so that the injured parties can receive help more quickly. To this end, it wants to shift the insurance workflow to a common, distributed ledger of transactions and enable the automatic payment of certain types of support.
Etherisc was founded in 2017 as an open source platform. The start-up is dedicated to the creation of insurance products with the Ethereum blockchain. Having raised $3.6 million through its ICO, Etherisc is already helping other companies create insurance policies that use smart contracts. The blockchain is mainly used to store numerous data such as wind speed or cancelled flights tamper-proof. In this way, they can be made available for automatic payment processes.
First cooperation in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s InsurTech start-up HurricaneGuard is already using Etherisc technology, Forbes reported on September 11. In order to minimize the suffering of victims like those of Hurricane Maria, they are using special policies to ensure that the next hurricane season will have less dramatic consequences. In September last year, Puerto Rico was hit by the particularly powerful tropical cyclone Maria. Even four months after the disaster, there were still 225,000 unprocessed insurance claims. Even worse are the 3,700 people who did not die directly as a result of the hurricane, but died due to lack of medication or other shortages.
The idea of blockchain-based automatic payments is not new. The French insurance giant AXA is already using a flight insurance tool that automatically pays for cancelled flights on an Ethereum basis.
The victims of Florence will not yet be able to benefit from the Etherisc solution. The damage is currently predicted to be up to 759,000 houses with a reconstruction cost value of 170.2 billion US dollars.