Blog post

Industry Innovation: One-price auto insurance

min read

Breaking from traditional pricing models and products.

My car recently turned six, which is middle-aged in car years. It isn't young and filled with new tech features and it isn't old enough to be classic, cool and full of character. Both of those cars have dreams of long, winding road trips; my six year old car is thinking about his upcoming milestone maintenance and wondering if he should tint his windows, get new rims or perhaps try a different air freshener.

I am thinking it is time to trade him in for a younger model that can keep up with my medium-paced, binge-watching lifestyle, but I can't find the motivation to start the painful purchasing process. I can't think of anything more un-fun to pay for besides dry cleaning or root canals. I don't find joy in owning a car. It is parked doing nothing on average for 22 hours a day while diminishing in value faster than the careers of some Hollywood celebrities.

In an unscientific experiment, I decided to see if I could survive for six months on Uber and Lyft rides instead of owning a car. It turns out that I can and ridesharing for me would save significant cash. As much as I love ridesharing in general, I can't make that full transition. Why? I don't always like the drivers, the wait time, or the way the car smells. I think one driver was actually living in his car, which takes the whole "working from home" to a new level. (Before you accuse me of being insensitive, you should be aware that I gave him five stars, a nice tip and was extra smiley and polite so I would get five stars in return.)

I would be all about abandoning my car for good if I could schedule the same driver each time. Why can't they match me with drivers I really like? It's all about relationships, right? I would happily schedule weeks ahead of time and pay more for my favorite drivers.

Others share my ambivalence to car ownership and several car companies have created subscription services where the driver pays a set monthly fee that covers the car, maintenance and insurance. Volvo rolled out Care by Volvo, which allows you to design your very own XC40, provides free maintenance and damaged tire replacements and includes premium insurance from Liberty Mutual. Keep your annual mileage under 15,000 and your total payment is $600 a month with no down payment. When the latest and greatest tech rolls out in 12 months, you can trade in your car for the newest model without any fees. They will even let you charge other drivers to rent it, so you can make some money instead of letting your car watch Knight Rider while you are toiling away at work.

As an auto insurance veteran with almost two decades in the business, I found it fascinating that Liberty Mutual created one price for everyone regardless of age, occupation or geographical location. I thought that perhaps they were assuming if I had excellent credit, my miles were capped and I was willing to pay $600 a month to drive a Volvo, I was probably a safe "preferred" risk. It turns out Volvo is absorbing the variable differences and passing along a flat rate to the customer.

Who says we can't we create ONE PRICE auto insurance for a population based on specific factors? I read about a company that had correlated a user's cell phone activity with credit worthiness. Anything is possible and it is all right there in the data. The Named Non-Owner policy has been around long before the sharing economy began and provides liability coverage to someone who does not own a car. It is typically cheaper than policies for those who own a car, too. Sometimes what is old suddenly becomes new again, like fanny packs and loving your spouse.

At Augeo, we are working with a select group of carriers to create new types of policies. These are innovative products that provide solutions to current and future customer demands. We are linking our network featuring hundreds of discounts with telematics programs to provide unique offerings that are personalized to the needs of specific driver types. It is an exciting time to be in insurance–an industry increasingly influenced by new forms of data and correlations only possible with quantum computing power.

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