GM is the inaugural member of Verisk Analytics' Telematics Data Exchange. OnStar leader Tyson Becker talks about how the connected car and auto insurance spaces are converging.

How have you seen interest in the Onstar data evolve among insurance carriers over the past few years?

As the insurance industry has evolved into offering more value added services and usage-based insurance options for their customers, we have seen increased interest in partnering with us to determine easier, better solutions through leverage of connected vehicle technology.

What has GM’s relationship been with other connected car platforms in the past? Is it mostly competitive, or is there interest in standardization in order to drive adoption of platforms across consumers?

GM has been a leader in this space, with more than 7 million vehicles connected worldwide and nearly 20 years of connected car experience. No other manufacturer has really committed to that level of built-in connectivity up until now. That said, we believe that other manufacturers are increasingly recognizing the many benefits of built-in connectivity. That is one of the reasons we agreed to participate in the Telematics Data Exchange. For the Insurance industry, we see this as a means to establish a degree of standardization for connected car insurance data as it becomes available from an increasing number of sources. That makes the data more useful for GM customers. As insurer’s UBI programs and connected vehicle penetration grows we believe there is a need for a base level of standardization to ensure customers are able to seamlessly take advantage of the benefits driving a connected vehicle can provide in the insurance space. The focus on the overlap between the connected vehicle and insurance space is on delivering innovative products with world class customer experiences – which is resource and time intensive in and of itself. We believe having standardization in areas that can help remove a part of the delivery equation that can consume much of these same resources and time makes sense for all parties involved. 

How did you get connected with Verisk for the telematics data exchange?

As we looked out a few years in both the vehicle and insurance spaces, we saw potential for a lot of innovation as more and more automakers, third-party service providers, and smartphone app creators began to provide driving related services through their respective platforms as well as interest from insurance carriers to use this data for their programs and services. However, with this will come a “many-to-many” problem where different data sets from different service providers will be attempting to integrate with different insurance carriers systems -- many at the same time. We believe this could end up delaying innovation in the space.

What have you heard from insurers in terms of how they are challenged to operationalize connected car data?

It became clear there was a need for an aggregator to play a role and remove the friction the many-to-many situation creates so we asked a group of industry leading companies working in the insurance space for a solution to it all. Verisk came through with an idea we believed in, along with the credibility as a trusted information provider to the insurance industry, to make it work.

What’s your major goal in joining the exchange?

GM’s main goal in joining the Verisk Telematics Data Exchange is to give our customers control of their connected vehicle data and options to use it with insurers when and where they choose. We value and will continue to have direct partnerships, like the ones we have with Progressive, State Farm, and Liberty Mutual Insurance, and will also provide our customers options to connect directly with them as well but many of our customers engage directly with insurers so their connected vehicle data must be accessible in those channels as well.

What is the major challenge from a data management standpoint in terms of making consumer telematics data portable? Are you developing any sort of new data model or output for the exchange?

Before making the data portable, it’s most important to ensure you have designed a product and process customers receive value from and are comfortable engaging with. Driving data is deeply personal and very sensitive to our customers – we understand the insights it can provide can be extremely beneficial, from improving driving habits to being rewarded with lower insurance rates, so we have an obligation to our customers to deliver benefits on all fronts but in a way where they stay informed and in control at every step. That means being very clear with them on what information they are providing, what it is being used for and for how long and getting their explicit consent to begin collection or sharing of data. We have purposely designed our OnStar Smart Driver product to separate out driving feedback from the potential insurance benefits. We want to provide our customers with feedback on their driving habits with tips on how to improve first – and separately provide options for them to use this data with carriers of their choice where and when they are ready. We believe delivering on the “informed control” proposition is key in this space to get right, and a major area of focus for us. Verisk helps solve the portability side.

How important to the connected car space is adoption by insurance companies, or being embraced by the industry? Does insurance using the data help make the business case for increased deployment internally? Do customers respond positively to the concept if they think it could have a positive impact on their insurance rate?

Customers are looking for engagement provided by connected vehicle technology across different channels and experiences, so no one opportunity changes General Motors commitment to delivering connected vehicles to our customers. After all, we have been connecting cars with OnStar for nearly 20 years. That being said, we see a significant overlap between what customers and insurers seek to improve and deliver on in the insurance space and what the connected vehicle can provide to help in that journey. There is a significant opportunity to deliver innovation that benefits all parties involved and the sector is an area of focus for our team.

This interview courtesy of Information Management's sister brand, Insurance Networking News.


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