From Analyzing Celebrities to Reinventing Insurance

Janet Comenos is co-founder and chief executive officer of the Boston-based predictive analytics startup named Spotted that matches companies with celebrities for endorsements and advertising.

Comenos and Spotted have parlayed their expertise in celebrity analytics and advertising into an insurance gig. Their new insurance subsidiary, SpottedRisk, is offering a remake of an old Lloyd’s product called disgrace insurance.

When famous people are in the news for the wrong reasons, their business partners who are paying them a lot of money can suffer damage to their reputations and may have to cancel contracts or shutter productions. That’s when disgrace insurance steps in.

Inquiring minds want to know: who qualifies as a celebrity?

Spotted’s 26,000 person database includes “A-listers” but they are not many in number. “Really and truly, there are only about 400 true, true A-listers globally,” Comenos said. The database also includes anybody who has appeared in a film with a budget above $5 million; any athlete drafted into the pros in the last five years; and any artist nominated for an award.

Comenos said Spotted uses more than 200 different sources and is constantly adding talent to the list, allowing it to capture people who become “overnight stars” that underwriters might not know about.

The Remaking of Disgrace Insurance

Hartford is not exactly Hollywood and insurance isn’t known for its celebrities. But Comenos says she and her team — 90% of her company employees are engineers, data scientists and research analysts —are very enthusiastic about the business.

She said that building an analytics product to evaluate celebrity endorsement decisions as Spotted has done requires sophisticated analytics. But to build models for predicting the likelihood of someone disgracing themselves for insurance that Lloyd’s will cover is “a totally different, much more sophisticated, much more interesting product in my mind, and in my team’s mind.”

“My co-founders and I are absolutely obsessed with this,” she said. “We think this stuff is just fascinating.”

Comenos thinks others should also find insurance fascinating.

“I’m just shocked that more young people don’t know how cool insurance is. I wish that there were more insurance celebrities because young people would probably be more attracted to the industry if there were,” she said.