Skift Take

The rain insurance provider could discover plenty of partners on the other side of the Atlantic as more brands and consumers warm to clever insurance add-ons.

California-based climate risk technology company Sensible Weather is expanding out of the U.S. into Europe following a new partnership with Ireland’s Campsited.

The outdoor vacation specialist, which has its eyes on remote workers, now lets bookers hedge their bets against rainy weather in Europe. When Sensible Weather’s forecasting model identifies rain in the customer’s location, it automatically issues a refund based on the daily rate for the booking, without the need for the customer to apply.

There seems to be plenty of consumer appetite for fintech add-ons. Anything that can take away stress from travel planning is welcomed, as the likes of Hopper (cancel for any reason) and more recently Google (airfare refunds) are discovering.

Sensible Weather already partners with Tentrr in the U.S., which said the number one reason campers are hesitant to commit to a camping trip is the possibility of rain. Now Nick Cavanaugh, Sensible Weather’s founder and CEO, is targeting more travel verticals in Europe as climate change continues to dominate the headlines.

Static Approach

Cavanaugh founded Sensible Weather at the end of 2019, following roles as a climate data scientist and hedge fund analyst (weather derivatives are big business).

The pandemic then hit, but the startup has been growing since it ended. It raised $4 million in January 2022, and then $12 million in Series A in July 2022, including backing from travel investor Certares. It also picked up a Skift IDEA accolade along the way.

Building the business also took a while as it needed to build a cloud infrastructure that was fast and scalable enough to support a consumer product.

“In order to embed at point of sale, when someone’s booking travel online, you essentially need to return a quote for a product or coverage in less than 500 milliseconds, which is a big challenge,” Cavanaugh said.

Working with Campsited on its rainy weather warranty marks Sensible’s Weather entry into new currencies. The UK appealed as its first international launch because of the English language factor. However, France (with French language support) is coming next.

The range of travel partnerships it can look for is limited, however, as the final product ideally needs to be a specific location, where weather is easier to predict, as opposed to a flight or car.

“We are going into different verticals,” Cavanaugh said. “We have looked at cruises, but haven’t gone in that direction. Similar to cruises are roving vehicles.” However, a Sensible Weather could offer its coverage to cruise-goers on port excursions, because they are planned ahead and at a specific location, he added.

The more obvious collaborations are hotels, theme parks (which have “good opt-in rates”), ski trips and even vacation packages. “Anything pre-booked is a good target for us,” he said. “We structure our coverage based on forecasts. The reason we do that is we find the consumer experiences much better if people receive a refund first.”

Cavanaugh noted there are “strong synergies” with some of the travel brands in Certares’ portfolio, but said a lot of them are gigantic complex organizations. And for now, Hopper isn’t a partner. “I’d happily have Hopper as a client,” he added. “They do a lot of embedded consumer fintech products, and it could be a really good partner for us.”

As weather patterns become increasingly volatile, Sensible Weather will likely find plenty more travel brands willing to compensate guests for bad weather.

“Climate change does present interesting obstacles, and an interesting problem for consumers,”  Cavanaugh said. “How that translates into partnerships remains to be seen.”

Disclosure: Skift CEO Rafat Ali is an investor in Weather Promise, a competitor to Sensible Weather.


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Tags: camping, certares, climate change, europe, hopper, insurance, travel booking, travel insurance, weather

Photo credit: Picture: jamie photo/Unsplash jamie photo / Unsplash

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