MaaS Pits Insurers Against Automakers over Data

The shift away from personal vehicle ownership has been slowed owing to the pandemic as consumers seek a safe space.

So, while car-and ridesharing had seen tremendous adoption over recent years, new research from several sources shows a growing preference back towards car ownership. Regardless of how vehicle preferences continue to take shape, auto insurers will need to support a variety of transportation models going forward, offering new products and services to meet the changing demands of consumers.

“At play and related to COVID is that consumers have become more acutely aware of the price they pay for insurance, opening their eyes and minds to usage-based insurance (UBI) models,” said Susanna Gotsch, director, industry analyst at CCC Information Services. She explained that while these programs have been available for some time, with fewer miles driven in the last several months, consumers have been thinking about how to align their driving habits more closely with what they pay for insurance. “As preferences for personal vehicle ownership continue, UBI adoption will grow, a trend we at CCC are already seeing with our insurance clients,” Gotsch said.

Martin Rosell CEO of Wireless Car, said when it comes to MaaS and new types of ownership models, and how that affects insurance, depends in large part on how and when, the automakers themselves come to the table. “Automakers have a huge task to understand if they are selling a fleet car or a consumer car, because the entire way they sell cars is that you have one owner that you onboard and register and activate their connected services,” he said. “They have a big problem understanding how to do that in a fleet concept and activate services based on who is driving it.”

Rosell said while everyone is looking into new insurance models, he sees no market for it yet. “We have to wait for the number of car-sharing cars to rise,” he explained. “It is still such a niche market and, if you look at the car-sharing companies today, they manage their own insurance.”

Gotsch predicted mobility as a service would have a “significant impact” on auto insurance. “Most notably, with MaaS a foundational shift will occur where insurers will begin insuring the driver versus insuring the vehicle, which has been the case historically,” she said.

This shift will raise questions about vehicle use. For example, insurers will need to understand how best to go about insuring drivers who use their personal vehicles to provide ridesharing services. A related issue is also understanding what mode the driver is in – personal or professional – when/if an accident occurs.

Additionally, if consumers decide to forego car ownership they may decide instead to satisfy their transportation needs another way. They could choose micro mobility options, anything other than a car that people can use to get from place-to-place, such as e-scooters. “In both examples, insurers will need new products to serve their consumers, and new data and insights to develop products that work to protect consumers and manage their risk,” she said.

Like Rosell, Gotsch noted there are other changes for insurers to consider, including fleet issues, especially as the market see more commercial delivery services come online, many which leverage the personal vehicles of their workforce. “As data, analytics, and digitalization continue to be applied to vehicles, transportation, and mobility overall, insurers will need to keep pace, evolving their use of these technologies themselves to gain better insight into the technologies at work in vehicles, and the modes drivers and vehicles find themselves in at key moments of truth, including post-accident response, and claims management,” she said.

That means insurers will look to tailor their products to deliver differentiated responses, powered by data and digital tools, and become even more focused on the policyholder experience. “This is a tricky problem, and no one has even come close to solving it. There’s a lot of data the insurance companies collect anyway in their own analysis and come up with their smart solutions, but the key to this solution is the relationships in the value chain,” he said.

Rosell said the trick here is the relationship between the automakers and the insurance companies and noted the competition over owning the customer and having that customer relationship is the key to the issue and he doesn’t think the automakers will give that up. “It’s like automakers and the dealerships they hate each other but they depend on each other,” he said. “Automakers don’t really like to give telematics information to insurance companies, because that means they put their consumers on the spot and this is a psychological question that needs to be solved in a good way.”

Rosell said there needs to be a very big change in the industry from an insurance perspective, because it’s all about the control of data, and regulatory and technical hurdles, like embedded hardware or software solutions, provide additional challenges. “Will the automakers ever give control of the customer data to the insurance industry?” he asked. “I don’t think so.”

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