Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Graham Gudmestad, Betterview’s new Director of Sales, about his background and his role at Betterview. We also talked about his thoughts on how Betterview is positioned to help insurers address the challenges of COVID-19, climate change and the increasing need to develop cost efficiencies in property-casualty workflow processes.
Tell me about yourself – especially your prior experience at Guidewire and working at an InsurTech start-up.
I didn’t start out wanting to work in sales, technology or insurance. After graduating from North Dakota State University with a degree in Communications, I became “the sports guy” for a Fargo, North Dakota TV station. Covering sports was fun, but I quickly realized I needed a better salary than $8.50 an hour and I also wanted a job with longer-term prospects.
My first role in technology sales was at Hallmark Business Connections. I discovered that I really liked sales – and that I was actually good at it. I love solving problems and really liked interacting with clients.
After Hallmark, I went on to hold increasingly senior sales positions at Oracle, Guidewire, and DataCubes (now Convr). I was really interested in seeing what it would be like to work at a start-up, so I joined DataCubes. At DataCubes, we aggregated and consolidated data for commercial lines insurers, with the goal of providing “no-touch” underwriting. However, one of my favorite jobs turned out to be Guidewire. The people were smart. The company was well run and had widespread market acceptance.
Why did you join Betterview? How does your experience tie into what you are doing at Betterview?
I joined Betterview because it reminded me of my experience at Guidewire. I liked Betterview’s positioning. The products are broad in scope, encompassing the entire insurance life cycle from underwriting new business, to renewals, claims and managing client expectations. Betterview is also built on a strong foundation of great leadership like Guidewire and has the intellectual power and financial wherewithal to be successful in a very competitive market.”
I’m really looking forward to combining my extensive technology experience with my insurance relationships and fascination with the property-casualty business. One of my favorite ways to start a meeting is to ask for a show of hands from those who planned on having an insurance career. Generally, no one raises a hand! I’ve learned that is because most people come into the insurance business accidentally. Like I did. Then, I ask the audience to raise their hands if they would never leave the insurance business. Almost always, every hand is raised. I’m always amazed at how enthusiastic people in the insurance business are about their industry. As I see it, insurance is ultimately a people business. I know I can make a difference for Betterview customers because I can bridge the gap between insurance and technology. I speak both languages.
2020 has been an extremely challenging year, especially for P&C carriers. Between COVID-19, wildfires in California, and an active Atlantic Hurricane season, how is Betterview equipped to address insurers’ challenges?
COVID-19 and climate change both are already having a dramatic impact on the insurance business. With COVID-19, insurers are less likely to send inspectors out to inspect risks. Without those inspections, many insurers don’t have the data they need to successfully do business. Recently, I learned first-hand how important Betterview’s imagery is to insurers. The insurer I was talking with said he was still receiving property claims from Irma, a Category 5 hurricane that struck the United States in 2017. He wasn’t worried about inspecting the damage from three-year old claims because they had good pictures of the risk before Irma, after Irma, and even now, three years later. Betterview’s imagery products make settling claims easier and less contentious – even three years after an event has occurred.
Right now, California is facing an extremely chaotic wildfire season and the hurricane season is also underway with the expectation that it will be one of the busiest seasons ever. Insurers don’t need to hire or send people into a disaster zone to assess the damage. Instead, they can use Betterview’s imagery to determine the damage, without endangering the lives of inspectors or claims professionals.
In my experience, every P&C insurer has different processes and workflows for underwriting new business, renewing business or settling claims. Gaps, duplications and inefficiencies are bound to occur. Betterview’s platform offers insurers tools that can impact a broad range of the insurer’s workflow processes, making the entire insurance cycle more transparent, efficient and cost-effective.
Outside of work what are your interests?
With COVID-19, I’ve obviously been working from home. I’ve been spending a lot of time, beyond working, chasing my two young daughters aged 10 months and 2 ½ years. Before COVID-19, my family did a lot of traveling, both domestically and internationally, because I have family in Japan and England. That meant we traveled internationally almost every year. I think we’re all about ready to get back to traveling again!
What’s the best way to contact you?
You can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, connect with me on LinkedIn, or call me directly at 952-693-5522.