InsurTech disruption in the auto industry (part 2)

In this second instalment of the auto InsurTech series, I’ve included more telematics-focused start-ups. Even if they’re using the same principle, they are taking their own approach to the tracking and diagnostics process and services provided to drivers and insurers. Researching the topic, it is easily noticeable that the telematics technology is by far the most popular among disruptors worldwide, even if the solution itself is not that new. What is new though is the telematics device’s capability to gather contextual data and to be integrated with other pieces of software or hardware that turn vehicles into connected cars or smart cars. The last report from Venture Scanner indicates 394 connected transportation companies who have raised over $43 billions in funding.

Zendrive – founded in 2013 and based in San Francisco, this start-up is making roads safer by using mobile phones to track driver behavior, targeting ridesharing and delivery companies. The app captures data and identifies collisions, aggressive and distracted driving as well as other events. Their app performs pattern analysis using a machine-learning algorithm and provides feedback on how driving behavior improves over time. Zendrive also tracks whether the driver is using their phone whilst driving. Their Automatic Collision Detection feature identifies collisions in real time and an alert is immediately sent to an emergency contact or call centre. The data collated benefits the insurer by enabling them to better manage the risk and create more granular pricing. At the start of 2016, the company raised $13.5 million in Series A funding.

Zendrive screen 2
Image credit: Zendrive


Zendrive screen 1
Image credit: Zendrive

Telematic is an UBI SaaS platform from Madison Wisconsin founded in 2014. Like many other telematics-based behavior data providers, it is smartphone based and offers real time streaming analytics (processed in the cloud to preserve phone battery) and event identification. They are working on supplying additional contextual data such as weather, speed limits, and traffic flow via 3rd party data sources. For an in-depth video presentation click here.

NetBee – founded in 2010, it reduces the cost of recovering a stolen vehicle. Netbee was part of the first batch of accelerated startups at SEED (Startups and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Development) in 2014 / 2015 and the team travelled half way around the world (from Brazil to Spain) to take part in the first MundiLab accelerator programme dedicated to the insurtech space. To join the Netbee Hero network, consumers can download the app from Google Play for free, register their car. If the car is stolen, they go onto the app and report the theft, after which the network will get their car’s details and can notify others if they spot the car. If your Portuguese is not too rusty, you can watch this video for a more visual description of their business model.

“Advances like driver-centric and other telematics measurements are probably the biggest breakthrough since the seatbelt.”

Tad Montross, Gen-Re Insurance, CEO

Nexer – this Brazilian start-up established in 2015 provides a connected car platform, facilitating products such as pay-as-you-drive insurance solutions. The customer journey entails ordering and installing the Nexer device in their car, downloading the app and pairing it to the device. The app allows drivers to optimize fuel consumption, maintenance and safety and have real time access to the car’s health. Based on collected data, the intelligent algorithms can predict when something is likely to go wrong. The app will even remind drivers when to change the oil and instruct them what to do when an electronic problem occurs. Their innovative product has attracted attention from larger industry players and the one-year-old team has already taken part in programmes such as MundiLab, IBM SmartCamp and Startup Farm. Once again, your Portuguese might come in handy when watching this video explaining how the Nexer product works.

DriveFactor – is another telematics-based start-up in the USA founded in 2010 targeting insurance carriers. Insurers can choose how data is being collected depending on the particularities of their business. The platform is advantageous because it accepts raw data from all devices. Collated data is then used to create driving events that are analysed, tested and scored according to the methodology chosen by the insurer. The app allows for gamified telematics programmes that improve the experience of policyholders who receive feedback, alerts and rewards.

Drive Factor screen.png
Image credit: DriveFactor
Drive Factor mobile
Image credit: DriveFactor

Driveway provides smartphone-centrered, cloud-based telematics technology that helps insurers maximise the opportunity for lower loss ratios and higher profits. This USA-based start-up founded in 2011 offers template based, white label telematics apps that insurers can utilise to create their own custom solutions.

RenewBuy is an online auto insurance comparison platform operating in India. They take the pain out of renewing car and bike insurance by providing quotes in a matter of seconds. Users can explore quotes from leading insurers in real time, find the cheapest policy and have it issued immediately. The company also offers expert advice, claim assistance and a free reminder service.

Sober Steering is a 7-year-old Canadian start-up focusing on detecting the level of alcohol in drivers’ blood through a device fitted in the car. The best part of their military-originated hardware is that the driver only needs touch it to get an immediate analysis. Users need to touch the biosensor placed in the steering wheel before they are allowed to start the engine. If the detected alcohol level is above a pre-set limit, the vehicle is made inoperative for one minute, after which a sober driver can start the car. Drivers are also being monitored regularly and reports are sent to the authorities / fleet manager.

Sober Steering tech
Image credit: Sober Steering

Cambridge Mobile Telematics was founded in 2010 in the USA by two MIT professors and experienced entrepreneurs. It powers the DriveWell smartphone app and as expected from a telematics device, the app provides information on driving behavior by scoring individual trips and the overall behavior of the driver.

Cambridge Mobile screen
Image credit: Cambridge Mobile Telematics

Acculitx has been providing technology that identifies driver risk and evaluates and enhances fleet safety since 2012. Unlike other telematics systems, theirs “provides superior identification of risky driving behavior by enhancing the accelerometer data by several factors to determine the true “energy displacement” in a driving event”. The system facilitates trend reporting, driver comparison and a video-integrated solution that determines risky driving behaviors.

Nauto closed a $12 million round of Series A funding in April 2016. As a telematics solution provider the start-up works not only with individual drivers, fleets and insurers, but they are also collaborating with car manufacturers and providing them with autonomous driving technology. Their offer consists of an artificial intelligence-powered connected camera network that understands the road context in real time and a smart cloud system. Nauto’s machine learning technology helps prevent accidents, reduces false claims and improves driving behavior.

Nauto screen
Image credit: Nauto

With so many start-ups transforming the motoring scene, it’s no surprise that in America the first quarter of 2016 saw more cars connecting to mobile networks than any smartphones. The road to autonomous cars is slowly being paved and, if they act fast, insurers might be able to reduce the negative disruption that the driverless technology is bringing to their ecosystem by learning from start-ups. More examples will follow in a future article; until then, don’t hesitate to tell us of any new entrants that you’ve come across.

Please see Part 1 of the series here.

Roxana Humelnicu,

Marketing Assistant @Ingenin


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