This Data-Centric Startup Wants to Reimburse You for Travel Plans Ruined by Climate Change

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

This Data-Centric Startup Wants to Reimburse You for Travel Plans Ruined by Climate Change

A new kind of travel insurance for climate change announced a $4 million raise.

When climate scientist Nick Cavanaugh lived in Seattle, he was blessed with a geography that gave way to beautiful running trails, arduous hikes, and snow-powdered hills that lended itself to snowboarding and skiing. Weekend outdoor activities were only a stone’s throw away, but were also so heavily dependent on the weather.

After getting his PhD at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography and getting a postdoc on climate science research and variability, Cavanaugh would go on to research how changes in weather could make sizable impacts in everything from agriculture to housing before founding Sensible Weather in 2019.

The heart of the company is a platform that collects and analyzes climate data, gathering information from satellites, ships and others who are tracking global weather patterns.

Cavanaugh foresees multiple uses for this kind of data, but for now, Sensible Weather is focusing on travel. The company is working with a handful of travel partners to offer a service that will refund travelers who have booked experiences like hand gliding or skiing, but can’t go because of a storm or some other weather event. Sensible Weather expects to unveil their partnerships next month.

As more people emerge from their COVID cocoon to travel during the spring and summer, Sensible Weather is looking to grow. It announced on Monday it raised $4 million led by Los Angeles-focused Wonder Ventures and Walkabout Ventures, with additional funding from the likes of 75 & Sunny Ventures (co-founded by dot.LA co-founder Spencer Rascoff) and Group 1001, arming the company with $10 million.

Leveraging hourly data from around the world going back several decades, the platform is able to predict on an hour-to-hour basis the weather conditions at a certain place and automatically reimburse travelers whose plans have been impacted by the change.

“We believe that in going to market with this consumer product, you would need to effectively be offering consumers a payout in real time beforehand in order for that product to be seen as really valuable,” Cavanaugh said. “We're giving consumers money when they're experiencing this moment of pain and allowing them to change their plans or to change what they were going to do, or at the very least, they'll change their attitude about what it is they were doing.”

Climate change is already having a drastic and immediate impact on the way we live, from devastating bushfires in Australiato the arctic cold wave in Texas. The tangible scenes of climate change have upped peoples’ usage of travel insurance.

“This is just the new normal in which we're facing and there are things that we can do to combat those things, other than just sort of kicking the can down the road,” Cavanaugh said.

But there are further uses for the technology. As the company continues to amass weather data from around the world, climate data can help communities develop weather-resistant housing, or build new developments on land that is less impacted by climate change. This kind of data can help farmers find arable land to grow crops on or better predict the success of certain plants. Traditional homeowners insurance may come with wildfire or flood coverage.

For now, Sensible Weather is focusing on travel. The company is working with a handful of travel partners as more people emerge from the pandemic to travel during the spring and summer.

“I think in 10 years, the insurance landscape and insurance products is going to look very different than it does today,” Cavanaugh said.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


Why These Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Are Making LA Their Home

Aisha Counts
Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
Why These Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Are Making LA Their Home
Joey Mota

Fleeing war and chasing new opportunities, more than a dozen Ukrainian entrepreneurs have landed in Los Angeles, finding an unexpected community in the city of dreams. These entrepreneurs have started companies that are collectively worth more than $300 million, in industries ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to audience monetization platforms to social networks.

Dot.LA spent an evening with this group of Ukrainian citizens, learning what it was like to build startups in Ukraine, to cope with the unimaginable fear of fleeing war, and to garner the resilience to rebuild.

Read moreShow less

Snap’s Fourth Quarter Revenue Was the Company’s Slowest Growth Since Its IPO Six Years Ago

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

​Snap logo over a bunch of snap shots
Sebastian Miño-Bucheli

Snap Inc.’s trend of growing its user base but failing to adequately monetize them continues.

Read moreShow less