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Alexis Vertefeuille, CEO and founder of SiniSTAR, a home-sharing community for insurance housing.Supplied

For the first time, a company has harnessed the sharing economy’s power to benefit people whose homes have been damaged or lost. How? SiniSTAR’s temporary rental platform connects insurance companies and local hosts, a new approach that is transforming the insurance housing industry.

Short-term rental platforms have been getting bad press recently. They inflate housing prices and can be a neighbourhood nuisance. But SiniSTAR created a different kind of temporary rental site: a home-sharing platform that lets homeowners lease their units to insurance companies. With access to thousands of units across Canada, claims adjusters can better help people who have lost the use of their homes, coast to coast.

Insurance housing services are becoming increasingly critical as climate change supercharges and multiplies disasters, such as fires, floods and hurricanes. SiniSTAR’s broad temporary housing network makes communities more resilient. When catastrophes strike, it provides better short-term housing options for families in need.

A Canadian innovation

The idea for a home-sharing platform exclusively serving displaced policyholders began to take shape for Canadian Alexis Vertefeuille in 2017. When SiniSTAR’s founder and chief executive officer helped a family relocate after a disaster, he witnessed how meaningful suitable housing could be for people putting their lives back together. He also noted the glaring lack of options in the market.

Vertefeuille’s rewarding experience inspired his work on a platform that would address the problem. Within a few years, he had remade the industry by building the first home-sharing platform for insurance housing.

More flexibility for insurers

Until recently, claims adjusters working with customers who had suffered home loss or damage had few choices. Insurers could only call on a handful of large property owners to find temporary housing for their policyholders. Families often had to accept housing far from their homes, workplaces and schools. They sometimes had no choice but to live in apartment towers or hotel rooms without amenities such as a washer, dryer or kitchen.

SiniSTAR’s home-sharing platform helps insurers find appropriate housing closer to their customers’ homes. Its easy, streamlined process and extensive housing network gives claims adjusters more flexibility. Insurers no longer need to deal with large landlords holding a virtual monopoly in their regions. Now they can better serve their clients with a broader array of options. As a result, policyholders can move forward while maintaining a high quality of life.

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SiniSTAR's rental platform connects insurance companies to local hosts and gives insurance clients who have lost the use of their homes better options.Supplied

Being there for people who need assistance is the driving force behind the company. “We want to help them and make a difference in their lives. That’s why we work so hard. We want to provide an outstanding, high-tech service that meets the needs of today’s displaced families and individuals,” Vertefeuille says.

A new opportunity for hosts

By democratizing the insurance housing market, SiniSTAR’s platform gives property owners that same satisfaction. Hosts can now provide fully furnished and equipped homes to neighbours in need. As part of SiniSTAR’s housing network, they can also feel good about making their communities more resilient to disasters.

At the same time, the home-sharing site lets them tap into a profitable revenue source. Working with insurers seeking temporary homes for their customers can be as lucrative as short-term rentals to tourists.

Hosts also appreciate that housing policyholders involves less hassle. Such rentals are generally for the medium term, and fewer changeovers mean less cleaning and reduced administrative tasks. Furthermore, displaced families are usually respectful of homeowners’ property – they are simply grateful to have a comfortable home as they recover from adversity. Problems, such as noise, damage or unruly parties, rarely come up. Most guests want to return to their normal lives as quickly as possible.

On their own, property owners cannot bid on contracts with insurance companies. But SiniSTAR bridges the gap by opening up the insurance housing market to homeowners.

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SiniSTAR helps claims adjusters find more appropriate housing for insurance clients closer to their homes, and it gives hosts an option to earn additional rental income.Supplied

Four easy steps to start hosting with SiniSTAR

Are you interested in becoming a SiniSTAR host? You could house a displaced family in a matter of days. Just take these four easy steps:

  1. Create your account at SiniSTAR.ca.
  2. Have your furnished and equipped home approved.
  3. Bid on insurers’ relocation contracts.
  4. Host displaced policyholders.

Advertising feature provided by SiniSTAR. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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