Innovation Key to Ideal Usage Based Insurance Solutions

Today, we bring you a guest post from Gary Wang at Pinnacle Actuarial Resources. As many of you might already know, Driveway and Pinnacle have teamed up to offer the industry a coordinated usage based insurance solution that includes driver behavior scoring.

The question at hand: What would be your ideal UBI solution?

At the 2015 Casualty Actuarial Society Ratemaking and Product Management Seminar, Pinnacle surveyed the attendees on a variety of questions, one of which centered on the topic of usage based insurance: “What would be your ideal UBI solution?”

The surveyed results are as follows:


The results were an inspiration to me in a way that tied closely to the theme of the keynote session: Innovation.

It was just a few years ago that installed devices were the clear go-to solution. What I often heard around the industry were the many problems of smartphone based solutions. With OnStar not showing signs of entering the game back then, original equipment manufacturer solutions seemed an interesting but unlikely competing alternative. Had this survey been done at that time, I suspect Installed Devices would have risen to the top.

Driveway, a strategic partner of Pinnacle and developer of a smartphone based UBI application, understood the concerns with a smartphone solution, which included battery drain and incomplete and inaccurate data. In response, they designed an app that addresses many of these concerns, and exemplifies why the scene has changed. Tests conducted show that smartphone UBI data is comparable in quality to UBI data from an on-board diagnostics device, and can be collected without significant battery drain or data plan consumption. Driveway did not attempt to invalidate the concerns but used the concerns to drive innovation.

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Proactive responses like these are why I believe the app-based solution has become a top contender in the UBI arena. Will they be the ultimate solution? That remains to be seen. OnStar finally got on board this year, partnering with Progressive’s Snapshot® program to provide driving data beyond mileage driven. Progressive has also expanded options with Zubie, again utilizing a device in the on-board diagnostics port but passing the feedback information directly to the driver’s mobile device.

What will the ultimate solution be? That remains to be seen. However, whatever the final form may be, the insurance industry will have a key role to play. The answers will ultimately be used by insurers, and as a result, insurers must be proactive in continuing the dialogue to help define the best portal for data gathering and challenge the innovators to devise solutions that exceed user expectations.

Usage Based Insurance Data: Highlights from the Lead Foot Report

One of the great advantages of usage based insurance is analytics. Usage based insurance (UBI) offers insurers a depth of information that’s never been accessible before, with new ways to evaluate driver risk, attract better drivers in the first place, incentivize safe behavior and reduce claims.

Progressive was an early adopter, so they’ve had some time to accumulate data. Now, they’re sharing some insights with the rest of us. Here are the usage based insurance data highlights from their Lead Foot Report.

Braking takes longer than you’d think.

When maintaining a following distance, the standard advice is to stay three or four seconds behind the car in front of you. The reason is that if you’re traveling at 60 mph, you’re going to continue nearly 500 feet before you can come to a stop.

UBI data just turned that on its head.

Why? Because most drivers traveling at 60 mph took 24 seconds to come to a complete stop, according to the Lead Foot Report. That’s more than four football fields’ distance (1,260 feet to be precise), or enough time to sing several rounds of “Happy Birthday.”

That’s the average. The most gradual stops took as long as 40 seconds. All told, it’s probably a good idea to add some cushion to that following distance.

The most important metric for predicting future crashes?

While UBI can’t sense a vehicle’s following distance, it can certainly detect hard braking – a crucial insight.

When drivers brake hard – we’re talking “the most aggressive one percentile of all stops” – the report showed that it took 12 seconds to get to a standstill. That sounds like a pretty good number, until you ask why drivers had to stop so fast in the first place.

Most hard-braking incidents are related to tailgating: a high-risk habit. In fact, out of all the usage based insurance metrics, hard braking showed the strongest correlation with collisions. That’s useful information for insurers to be sure. Drivers who make a habit of hard braking are high-risk customers, and more likely to initiate claims.

Other metrics may prove invaluable, too, down the road.

As insurers discover new ways to leverage usage based insurance data, other metrics are likely to take on new significance in assessing risk and minimizing auto insurance claims.

“We’ve gathered billions of miles of driving data and are only just beginning to scratch the surface … of the types of predictive behavior our … analytics can reveal,” said Dave Pratt, general manager of UBI at Progressive.

For example? The best teen drivers drive much more safely than risky subsets of other age groups, despite the stereotype that teen drivers are inherently risky. And conservative male drivers brake hard a full 77 percent less than aggressive female drivers.

The Technology-Adoption Curve, or Why Early Adopters Get the Worm

Early adoption brings competitive advantages – and there’s a bell curve to prove it.

We’re referring to a graph that Everett Rogers popularized in 1962 in his book, “Diffusion of Innovations.” As Rogers pointed out, innovation spreads. It’s a little bit contagious. And it follows a predictable pattern.

How does innovation spread?

It shows up first among innovators, those who are willing to invest significant personal effort in using (and preaching) some little-known technology. They’re the visionaries of the curve: the first to perceive its potential and try to make it real. They’re educated, prosperous and risk-oriented.
Next come the early adopters, those who catch onto a technology’s value before it’s obvious and position themselves at the front of the line, almost before there’s any line at all. They’re younger, educated and influential.
The early majority soon follow after. These are thought leaders who can see which way the wind is blowing and are ready to take advantage of it. Conservative but open to new ideas, they’re socially active and influential.

They are the well-informed opinion leaders who go to the people who are experts in their field. They are the people on whom the company can rely upon for innovative and trusted ideas. The thought leaders create a dedicated group of friends and followers who are not restricted to a particular company. Click on Bitcoin Loophole software to learn more about thought leaders.
The late majority is slower, not adopting the technology until it’s already become mainstream. This group tends to be older, less educated and less socially active.
Last to follow are the laggards. This is the most conservative, oldest and least educated bunch in the group.

Admittedly, each of the categories above gets its own personal bouquet of benefits and drawbacks – even laggards, who enjoy little risk with canned options for out-of-the-box deployment. But if you look at the entire spectrum, it’s clear that the biggest gains and smallest drawbacks are to be found among those on the upside of the adoption curve.

In other words, early adopters get the worm.

For example, take Doug MacIver Jr. He’s the inventory and Internet manager at RideTime, an auto dealership in Manitoba. According to Auto Remarketing, MacIver “says that as an early adopter of digital marketing and related tools, his dealership has seen a much higher return on investment than late adopters.”

It’s easy to see why. Early adoption gives businesses the edge by helping them ace several key competitive categories. Let’s look at how usage based insurance does that for auto insurers:

Control losses to improve profitability. UBI incentivizes safe driving. This means it has the potential to turn an otherwise adequate driver into a great driver, by making them more aware of their behavior and rewarding them when they get it right. Better driving across your customer base adds up to fewer claims and a better margin.
Engage and retain customers. It’s a fact of human psychology: people like to be noticed and rewarded for their positive effort. UBI creates opportunities to touch base frequently with your customers, making road safety fun by gamifying it and bringing value-added benefits that strengthen the glue.
Avoid adverse selection. Usage based insurance rewards drivers who practice superior road safety – and by rewarding them, it attracts them. What happens to insurers who don’t offer UBI until it’s too late? They end up with the demographics that don’t choose UBI, because it doesn’t benefit them, because they don’t drive as safely. Translation: claims.
Attract new audiences. We’ve mentioned before that teen drivers, senior drivers and unbanked drivers aren’t being adequately served by the traditional insurance model. By offering them a package that really meets their needs, you can expand your customer base with drivers whose good behavior pays off, both for them and you.

Insurance Trends: What’s Big about Big Data?

Nothing’s hotter in insurance right now than big data. That’s something Insurance Networking News made perfectly clear last month in their series on the topic.

“If there were a competition for breathless hype in technology, big data would be the current champion,” INN said. ”And though the phrase is ubiquitous in boardrooms and IT departments across categories of companies, the insurance industry is in many ways taking the lead in getting real business value from the volume, velocity, and variety of massive datasets.”

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Why is it so popular? Seven reasons come to mind.

1. New (or improved) functionalities. Progressive has pioneered two functionalities that are relatively new to the insurance industry: telematics and web-based quoting and sales, all of which “lean heavily on big data technology.” For other insurers, big data has also proved its worth in existing functions like customer communication, web design and direct mail.

2. Deeper insights. “A lot of what we talk about is having our data more integrated so it can be shared across departments,” said Floyd Yager, chief data officer at Allstate. “Something meant for a single purpose often leads to other insights.” In his experience, big data positions insurers to understand who their customers are and how better to serve them.

3. Reduced costs. Claims and fraud management, cyber risk, customer management, pricing, risk assessment and selection, distribution and service management, product innovation, and research and development – these are all areas where Swiss Re has leveraged big data “to help reduce costs and improve the efficiency of current processes throughout the insurance value chain.”

4. Streamlined reporting. Reporting and analytics aren’t new to the industry – far from it – but the ease of use that big data adds to this area certainly is. According to INN, subject matter experts said that big data can equip insurers to “circumvent exhaustive data cleanup efforts that previously have stymied reporting and analytics efforts.”

5. Internal efficiencies. CNA is using big data on the company side to improve workers’ compensation claims and adjusters’ notes. “That is a classic, unstructured big data kind of problem,” said Nate Root, SVP of CNA’s shared service organization. “We have hundreds of thousands of workers’ compensation claims, and claims adjuster notes, and there is tremendous value in those notes.”

6. Innovation. Riccardo Baron, big data and smart analytics lead for Americas at Swiss Re, said that the significance of big data “has to do with innovation, and how we believe newcomers in the insurance industry could potentially disrupt traditional business models.” In other words, it’s one of the forces charting the future of the industry.

7. Heightened customer value. Life insurance is a segment where attracting new customers has been a real challenge, due to an “onerous underwriting process” that can involve “inches and inches of paperwork” simply to produce a risk classification. When John Hancock introduced telematics through wearable technologies, they gained a “wealth of data” that not only facilitated underwriting, but empowered customers “to improve their rate as they improve themselves,” exchanging data for real value.

Insurance telematics is one area where the benefits of big data are pulled crisply into focus. All of the benefits above – new functionalities, deeper insights, reduced costs, streamlined reporting and efficiencies, disruptive value and customer rewards – come into play, whether you’re talking wearable devices from a life insurance company, or a UBI smartphone app that encourages safer driving habits.

How Auto Insurers Can Capture the Booming Senior Market with UBI

Mileage and claims. There’s a big correlation between the two, as any insurer knows. Yet the standard pricing model barely distinguishes between drivers who log only 5,000 miles a year and those who log 20,000, said Becky Yerak of the Chicago Tribune.

That’s a problem for anyone who drivers fewer miles than most – particularly seniors.

Older drivers … a menace behind the wheel? Not so much.

It’s not uncommon to imagine seniors as a menace behind the wheel, but the numbers don’t necessarily support that bad rap. As pointed out in our last article, studies have shown that senior drivers have fewer crashes and are less likely to be injured or killed than middle-aged drivers ages 35-54, because:

1) Seniors drive less often and for shorter distances

2) Seniors tend to avoid inclement weather conditions and night driving

3) Seniors tend to self-limit their driving if they experience limitations in their health or vision

4) Seniors are the most experienced drivers, making them safer on the road than younger drivers

Sometimes insurers offer seniors an age-based discount. But we think they can do better.

We think seniors deserve premiums that are based on their safety records.

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When the Consumer Federation of America shopped insurance for a hypothetical 30-year-old woman, they found that astonishingly, Farmers, Progressive and Allstate offered her the same annual premium whether she drove 5,000 or 20,000 miles a year.

Compare that to usage based insurance pricing, which rewards low-mileage drivers with what can amount to “hefty” discounts, said Mark Williams, a Columbus Dispatch contributor. While “most participants will see discounts of 10 to 15 percent,” those who drive relatively little could save 30 percent, even as much as 50 percent.

That’s great news for seniors, who, according to the Federal Highway Administration, drive an annual average of only 7,646 miles.

Offer a more competitive package to an ever-expanding customer base.

It’s no secret that the elder population is growing. The “90-and-older population nearly tripled” since 1980, “reaching 1.9 million in 2010,” said the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2030, we expect over 57 million to celebrate their 70th birthday, adding up to “30 percent more drivers aged 70 and older on our roadways.”

Insurers offering UBI-based discounts can give this customer base a much more competitive premium than those using the standard pricing model. It’s only a matter of time before the older population takes it for granted that UBI is simply a better deal, given their needs.

Bottom line, with usage based insurance you can position yourself to make a much better offer to a market whose numbers are constantly on the rise. Reward older drivers for their low annual mileage, and tap into a demographic whose track record is among the best.

Auto Insurance Digitization: Is Your Company Behind the Times?

It’s no secret that digitization brings the potential to transform the auto insurance industry from the ground up. For one thing, it can expand an insurer’s service offerings. According to the Bain brief, “For insurance companies, the day of digital reckoning” some carriers are leveraging mobile apps to let their customers add a vehicle, get a quote, file a claim or pay bills.

When an insurer manages to “integrate disparate channels into a seamless experience,” as Bain said, it clearly benefits the customer. But it also benefits the company.

How digitization can optimize your business processes

Cognizant, a company specializing in business optimization, keyed into telematics as a major opportunity to boost efficiencies in auto insurance. In their words, usage based insurance is “laying the foundation for better decisions and core business process optimization.”

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How? When an insurer integrates telematics into its core systems, including “policy administration, actuarial and underwriting, billing and claims, as well as new action-oriented policyholder portals,” it can achieve “more predictive and faster decisions … perhaps even in real time.” Meanwhile, manual work and time-intensive tasks “can be streamlined or eliminated as processes are automated with accurate geo-spatial and vehicle data.”

The result, Cognizant said, is a “noticeable impact on loss ratios,” with additional, quantifiable savings continuing to roll in, as insurers continue to collect and analyze UBI data.

Why are auto insurers falling behind?

Digitization isn’t just creating new efficiencies for auto insurers. It’s transforming business processes for industries across the board, from healthcare to finance. But as the news site Shanghai Daily pointed out last month, while “the financial sector is racing to embrace digital technology to boost sales and drive profits, the traditionally staid insurance industry is in danger of falling behind.”

If you were to rate your company on a scale of one to 10, how fully have you leveraged mobile technology to optimize your business processes?

Two benefits: business efficiencies, customer retention

Usage based insurance doesn’t just bring the potential to improve efficiencies; it can also improve customer retention – which stems in part from lower premiums, as well as a closer customer relationship. “That’s the Holy Grail for insurers,” Deloitte University Press said, “establishing brand stickiness by offering ongoing value to policyholders beyond the price charged for coverage and claim service provided.”

The other side of the retention coin is, interestingly enough, inconvenience. When a customer would have to cancel online bill-pay for their insurance provider and then set it up all over again with a new organization, for example, it could deter them from switching carriers in the first place, unless they were seriously disgruntled.

Bottom line, “most executives recognize that they’re on the threshold of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to both reduce costs and foster new streams of profitable revenue growth,” Bain said, speaking of digitization. And UBI telematics is a central component of that opportunity.

Auto Insurers: Are You Customer Acquirers or Customer Retainers?

As auto insurance companies go, which are you: A customer acquirer, or a customer retainer?

Perhaps you’d like to say you’re both. According to Bain & Company, though, that’s unlikely. Last summer, Bain conducted surveys including almost 3,600 auto insurance consumers among its respondents, which showed “that it’s very difficult for a carrier to excel in both endeavors.”

The good news is that the auto insurance industry is generally pretty good at holding onto its customers, with U.S. retention rates averaging 90 percent. But there is a flip side: Those customers who are shopping, are serious about it.

So said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the global insurance practice at J.D. Power, after the study his company conducted in 2013. To put it bluntly, of the 23 percent of customers who shopped auto insurance in the previous 12 months, 45 percent made a switch. That’s “the highest rate since the study first began measuring insurance customer retention in 2008.”

Which brings us to that perennial question: How can you keep the customers you have?

Price shopping versus experience-shopping

The answer boils down to what customers want. Customers aren’t just price-shopping these days; they’re experience-shopping. When given the option for a better customer experience, most customers – 81 percent, a 2012 Oracle study said – are actually willing to pay more.

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It seems that personalization is a big part of what they’re looking for. When Accenture conducted a similar study in 2014, it found that 54 percent of younger customers (aged 18 to 24) and 52 percent of slightly older customers (aged 25 to 34) said they’d go with a higher-dollar plan if it offered personalized service.

Personalization through technology

How to achieve a superior customer experience through personalized service? Smartphone apps present one answer. In an era when most smartphone users confess to keeping their phones on or near their person 24 hours a day, the options for providing personalized, experience-driven service have expanded. “Mobility and the cloud have created ultimate anytime, anywhere experience for consumers,” Property Casualty 360 observed.

Leveraging this technology to deliver a sleeker experience, while communicating with customers more clearly and more frequently at the same time, is an excellent start. It also blends very well with another important component of customer retention in today’s auto insurance industry: Insurance telematics.

How big has insurance telematics gotten? Deloitte University Press put it this way: “Carriers that choose not to go the UBI route will likely have to formulate and execute an alternative retention and growth strategy, if only to ward off the competitive threat posed by those employing telematics.”

Want to become an auto insurer that excels in both customer acquisition and customer retention? The key is using technology to deliver a superior, more personalized experience. How? Mobile usage based insurance.

Usage Based Insurance Helps New Drivers Avoid 40% of Crashes

There’s some interesting new research out from UK-based auto insurer, ingenie. Their Young Driver’s Report revealed that 40 percent of new driver crashes could be avoided with wider adoption of “blackbox” or usage based insurance.

While the infographic below fully illustrates the company’s findings, here are a few highlights:

One in five young drivers crash within their first six months on the road.
More than 90% of those using usage based insurance, engage with driving behavior feedback and check their feedback 14 times a month, on average.
Young drivers who share driving feedback with their parents or guardians are 28% less likely to crash than those who don’t.
Drivers with higher driving scores are less likely to have serious crashes than those with lower scores.
With ingenie’s usage based insurance program, one in eight drivers crash within their first six months on the road (compared to the usual one in five).

It makes sense that coaching teen drivers should improve their safety and ability to avoid accidents, and now ingenie has the numbers to prove it! In addition, we know that young drivers are digitally engaged, and therefore highly likely to embrace smartphone UBI.

American auto insurers – now is the time to take action. If you haven’t already done so, read this article on how to feed the usage based insurance elephant.

Wondering how to accelerate auto insurance profit potential?

Many auto insurers still think that usage based insurance programs have to be bogged down by hardware, inventory and seven-figure budgets. If you fall into this category, don’t wait another minute to download the Driveway Fact Sheet. Whatever you do, DO NOT sign a usage based insurance contract until you’re apprised of the newest technology available. Complete the form to the right to get the information you need, before it’s too late!


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The Unbanked – a Good Fit for Usage Based Insurance?

It’s easy to assume that pretty much everyone has a bank account. After all, it kind of boggles the mind, imagining what it would be like to get by without one.

Still, 10 percent of America is “unbanked” meaning that they are individuals who don’t use banks at all. In addition, another 17 percent are considered underbanked, which means, according to PBS, that “they use a bank account in addition to an alternative financial service like payday lenders or payroll cards.”

A marginal slice of the population? Not really: we’re talking 27% of the nation.

To make things more interesting, those un- and underbanked individuals are smartphone users.

Among the unbanked, 70 percent use smartphones
Among the underbanked, 40 percent use smartphones

Occasionally these bank-averse individuals do open an account, and when they do, statistics show they have an overwhelming preference for mobile banking. That’s true among regardless of income level. And while later they may choose to close the bank account, the phone remains an important fixture in their lives. Bank accounts may come and go, but smartphones are forever.

Does usage based insurance appeal to the unbanked?

If you’ve never opened a bank account, you probably don’t have a credit score. And when you don’t have a credit score, it’s tough to get car insurance. Some insurers may shut the door on you entirely. Others may require you to pay higher premiums. Here’s where UBI could present an interesting solution.

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Anyone who’s already using a personal device on a daily basis is probably willing to consider getting auto insurance via a smartphone app. The un- and underbanked demographic, in particular, is even more likely, given their preference for mobile banking.

Usage based insurance eliminates the need for insurers to factor in a driver’s credit score when setting their rates. By basing the cost of insurance on a driver’s behavior, usage based insurance sidesteps the need for credit data.

This means that providers who offer UBI-based insurance without requiring credit data have a competitive advantage when appealing to un- and underbanked customers, because they can offer them more competitive rates. That’s a significant advantage as we’re talking about 27 percent of the population.

This is just one more way usage based insurance could transform the face of car insurance. Click here to see how usage based insurance could revolutionize your approach to insurance.