SAN FRANCISCO — Kettle, a reinsurance startup that uses advanced deep learning to better protect people from the growing risks associated with climate change, has raised a $25 million Series A funding round led by Acrew Capital, with participation from Homebrew, True Ventures, Anthemis, Valor, DCVC, and LowerCarbon Capital.
Kettle is bringing advanced technology to the $400 billion-a-year reinsurance industry, starting with California wildfires. (Photo above: Kettle Risk Map) The industry has seen a 68 percent drop in return on equity due to a 3X increase in catastrophes causing more than $1 billion in damage over the past 15 years according to NOAA. In 2021 we saw the Dixie and Caldor Fires in California burn over 700,000 acres and destroy over 1200 structures based on Calfire’s data.
Founded by Andrew Engler and Nathaniel Manning, Kettle is structured as a reinsurance Managing General Agent that can underwrite these increasing risks. Kettle is also setting up their own risk-bearing entity. Kettle’s Engler has more than a decade of experience working in the insurance and reinsurance industries, most recently as the vice president of digital at the public insurer/reinsurer, Argo Group. Manning spent years working with data for humanitarian efforts as the CEO of Ushahidi, the largest open source software platform for community crisis response, and as the first chief data officer of USAID.
“We are thrilled to be helping provide insight and relief to the California insurance market,” said Manning.
“There are 14 million structures in California, and in 2020 ~11,500 of them burned down, less than .1%. While the risks of wildfire have certainly increased over the past decade, the key is understanding exactly where the risk is. If we can do that, we can bring stability back to the California insurance market.”
In 2020, Kettle’s model predicted that the fourteen largest fires, which accounted for 98% of the damage, were in the top 20 percent of areas most likely to burn across California’s hundred plus million acres. In 2021, Kettle’s model predicted the areas consumed by the Dixie and Caldor Fires as some of the most dangerous parts of California.
Kettle’s technology and proprietary algorithms use terabytes of data from public and private data sources, such as NOAA weather data and NASA’s MODIS and LIDAR satellites. Kettle’s neural networks run upward of 140 million model parameters to calculate probabilities of fire damage at the half square mile resolution across the state.
“When you take a minute to think about it, it becomes very obvious why traditional reinsurers can’t accurately underwrite climate risk — their methodologies look to the past,” says Lauren Kolodny, Partner at Acrew Capital. “And our climate is changing in ways that can’t be predicted on the basis of historical data. Kettle is solving a massive, global problem. And we’re so thrilled to deepen our partnership with this incredible team.”