A few months ago, Betterview expanded its sales team with the additions of Kasey Leung, Graham Gudmestad and Neil Weiss. In order for you to get to know our team better, we’re going to sit down and chat with our new team members over the next few weeks.
To kick things off, we’re going to sit down with Neil Weiss, Director of Sales, Betterview. For the past twenty years, Neil has been working with insurance carriers, both big and small, to improve their operations. Neil’s career can be broken down into two parts. For the first ten years, Neil worked at software companies that focused on modernizing core policy administration, claims, billing and content management systems. In the second half, Neil has been working at startup insurance technology companies (before “InsurTech” was a word) to help carriers innovate and transform from legacy-based silos and manual processes into modern, API-driven, omnichannel organizations.
Neil joined Betterview along with Kasey and Graham just as the United States was becoming a hot spot for COVID-19. In this interview, we’ll discuss Neil’s background, his role at Betterview, and share his thoughts on how insurance carriers are using technology to adjust to a changing world.
Neil, you have extensive insurance experience in P&C and life and health. Could you tell me more about your previous experience and how it ties into what you are doing at Betterview?
Sure, you bet. I’ve been working in the insurance industry since the early 2000s. During my first ten years, I worked at software companies, such as Mobius, Guidewire and Oracle, that focused on more traditional systems (e.g. core, operational, and backend systems). In the second half of my career, I have worked at Insurtechs such as Carpe Data and One, Inc., who used emerging technologies or created new data sources to improve carrier operations, enhance customer engagement, and accelerate product development.
While I really enjoyed my first ten years in the industry, I have found the second half to be even more exciting because I love introducing new technologies to carriers. In my current role at Betterview, I am using my previous experience to help carriers think differently about themselves and how they operate.
What are some of the lessons you have learned in your previous roles and how you plan to apply them at Betterview?
A long time ago, I learned that you need to look at each insurance company as an individual organism. Each company has its own unique needs, culture and ways of conducting business. With this in mind, I have learned that patience is crucial because carriers have to balance maintaining current systems so they can conduct business on a daily basis, while also trying to allocate resources towards innovation.
I have to say, though, over the last five years, I have seen a big shift in the mindset of carriers. When I first started in InsurTech, that wasn’t even a term. We just referred to it as “cool technology”. Carriers were interested in this technology but weren’t sure if these companies could deliver the goods or if they should allocate budget or resources towards them. Now that many Insurtechs have proven track records of helping insurers, carriers are much more open to using them and are willing to invest or at least experiment.
Could you talk about why you decided to join Betterview?
Sure, there are three reasons why I joined Betterview. The first reason would be the product. Being in sales, we live and die by a company’s product. It’s like our baby. I have to believe in a product’s ability to make a difference. With Betterview I saw a product that was both highly innovative and flexible enough to grow and expand its footprint from underwriting and loss control to claims.
The second reason would be the people who work at Betterview. I was extremely impressed with the smarts, open-mindedness, and experience Betterview’s team had in insurance. Insurance is not an easy business to crack, and the learning curve is steep, as many InsurTech startups can attest to. I felt like Betterview’s deep experience in P&C insurance and the partnerships they had built gave them an edge.
The third reason would be the feedback I received from industry contacts about Betterview and how they were improving carrier operations. Rather than “disrupting” existing processes, Betterview plays an important role in process improvement and enhancement, which makes goals much more achievable and return on investments easier to meet. In addition, I was also very impressed with their investments in data science, engineering and the list of customers who were in production with Betterview.
What makes Betterview unique in the insurance space?
I would say it’s Betterview’s commitment to continuous improvement and how they respond to market and customer needs. It’s amazing to see how much the company has evolved over the last few years to solve customer needs. In a relatively short period of time, Betterview has pivoted from focusing on drone inspections to manned aircraft and satellite imagery analysis. Soon after that, they added roof scores, created a capability to automatically analyze all buildings within a parcel boundary, and most recently added a polygon detection tool that can visually pinpoint property conditions.
A great example of Betterview responding to market needs would be a conversation I recently had with a customer. This carrier asked if we could identify satellite dishes on properties as they were concerned they could blow off during wind storms and cause damage.
After this meeting, I spoke to Jason Janofsky, VP of Engineering, to see if this was possible. He told me “no problem” and we were live within no time. I was amazed at how quickly we were able to respond to this customer inquiry. Usually, for a request like this, it would require multiple internal meetings, and then a lengthy period where this enhancement would sit on the product roadmap.
What technologies have carriers been prioritizing (e.g. digitization, virtualization, process automation) in light of COVID-19?
Based on the conversations I’ve had with carriers, they are interested in anything that’s going to improve operations virtually, whether it’s chatbots, virtual inspections, digitization, etc. Given how much time both carriers and policyholders have been working remotely, real-time, browser-based processes have become critically important. COVID-19 has given carriers the impetus to say, “Can we find a better way of doing things and can we make this decision remotely?” It’s been amazing to see first-hand how fast carriers have adjusted to COVID-19 and their openness to exploring new technologies in a remote working environment.
How carriers are using Betterview to deal with COVID-19?
One of the biggest priorities for carriers during COVID-19 is making sure their employees and policyholders are safe. We’ve found carriers have been much more open to using a solution that doesn’t require a physical presence for property inspections. Even in special circumstances (i.e. high-value renewal) where carriers do want to send someone onsite, they often can’t because buildings are closed. This is where a virtual solution like Betterview can help out.
Going forward, as states slowly start to reopen, carriers will triage their boots on the ground inspections to where they are needed most. Again, this is where a solution like Betterview can help by identifying which policies would benefit from an onsite inspection.
Could you talk about some of the results you have seen from customers using Betterview’s predictive analytics?
One of the great things about Betterview is that we can deliver immediate results. A great example of this would be a carrier who was insuring some large storage facilities. The agent was claiming the properties and roofs were all in great shape in order to bind the policy and satisfy the customer. Underwriting on the other hand wanted to send someone out to inspect the property, however, they couldn’t get inspectors onsite for 3 weeks. This was when the carrier asked us to run the five properties to see what we could find. In a matter of minutes, we quickly discovered 3 of the roofs were in very questionable condition. This information may have potentially saved the carrier from paying a big claim on one of those properties.
What are your interests outside of work?
When I’m not at work, you can either find me trail running or attending another concert with my wife or friends.
What’s the best way for people to contact you?
You can reach me at email, connect with me on LinkedIn or call me directly at 914.261.3562