Driverless Car Race by AutomakersBy: Sean Cary (Property Casualty 360) December 2014

The connected car is with us for good. When I present to organizations or groups such as at this year’s IBIS symposium in Barcelona or the ICAR Conference in Detroit, I always clarify that up front. For me that is an important component when looking at the strategic landscape.

The second point of clarity I like to make is that technology is compressing time in the auto space. At telematics conferences, the predicted timelines continue to decline. When experts discuss driverless vehicles, autonomous driving and especially vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I), what was once seen as arriving in 2025 is now coming in 2020, and what was once 2020 is now 2017. So if we take as fact that the connected car is here and the changes it will bring are ever closer, that sharpens the focus for organizations in terms of how they position themselves for this new future.

You only need to log onto automotive web pages or those of USA Today or the New York Times to see the almost daily announcements by one auto manufacturer or another regarding ever-changing vehicle technology. What you don’t see much of is “what does that mean” for the claims and collision repair segments? Certainly opportunities exist to streamline the process and make it a better experience for all. If we look at this in more detail, then I can see a future claims and repair workflow very different from today. I can also see new entrants into the market who will have a different perspective on how to “manage” claims and a radically different business model.

Cars making claims?

For instance, with all of these sensors in vehicles these days and the vehicles’ ever increasing ability to communicate with external parties, how would a future look where the car made the claim?

Think about it. On impact, the data received from the vehicle in real time could begin the claims and repair process instantly.

The emergency authorities could be notified in real time with detailed information about the vehicle(s), the location of the incident, and the well-being of the occupants. (Care givers will tell you all the time the more details they have on the number of occupants and their relative well-being while enroute to the scene helps to save lives.)

Based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), a perfect set of demographic, geographic, impact genesis, and vehicle condition data can be immediately uploaded to a trusted data source which can then simultaneously start the claim and:

  • – arrange for immediate roadside assistance
  • – arrange for a replacement vehicle or rental
  • – assess the data and create an impact cinema graphic that shows what happened five seconds prior to the incident and immediately afterwards
  • – provide a data rich FNOL to insurance companies
  • – assess the vehicle damage uploaded by the telemetry by using historical relevant data and predictive analytics to determine with a high degree of accuracy the repair costs or if the vehicle will be totaled
  • – create predictive estimates and parts requirements lists, and send that to dealers or parts procurement companies
  • – identify which shop is best positioned to repair the vehicle based on shop scorecards and scheduled availability (be it in “network” or not) and send them the assignment and predictive estimate
  • – and keep the consumer informed of what is happening at all times via mobile communications

All of the above is done instantly and simultaneously. No phone calls, no manual form filling, no frustrating repetition of the same information to different agencies. And remember at this point, the vehicle has not even been moved from the scene yet. I think that creates huge efficiency and economic benefits.

At this point I’m often asked who, how, and when will this all happen?

My answer is simple. Right now, no one company has the all of the component parts to do this. However, the component parts all exist, and so it will take partnerships and alliances across segments. We are beginning to see some of these form between OEMs and insurers for example.

One such example is the partnership between State Farm, the largest insurance company in the market, and General Motors, the largest OEM. They have entered into an agreement that sends certain driving data straight from the vehicle via OnStar to State Farm (with consumer permission, of course) to help State Farm assess the “User Based Insurance (UBI)” premium for that driver.

GM/OnStar has a similar relationship with Liberty Mutual, 21st Century, and National General. In Europe, BMW and Allianz have a similar partnership, and the new electric vehicles from BMW come with BMW branded UBI.

These partnerships and alliances are important and something of a sea change. In the past, OEMs and insurers were often at loggerheads with each other over parts usage and prices. That fades into insignificance when the economics of brand loyalty and customer retention for both organizations are taken into consideration.

New Entrants

To pull all of this together is an enormous task that may go beyond the current core competencies of those currently serving the segment. I believe we’ll see new entrants into the market.

The connected car space is awash with “telematics service providers” (TSPs) that have a head start in this specialized area of connectivity and data management, and when you look at companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Google, you will find they already play a significant role in the connected care space. Microsoft Sync and Apple CarPlay are examples of infotainment and consumer services — and then there’s Google.

Google has recently announced Android Auto, with plans to connect to 28 different vehicle manufacturers, providing a direct extension of the phone right onto the head unit in the car. Google has its autonomous and driverless car programs, having recently acquired 22 licenses for autonomous vehicles from the state of California. Google owns an online insurance aggregator in the UK and just recently just added Alan Mulally, the former president and CEO of the Ford Motor Company, to their board of directors.

Do you see a trend here? Should any of these technical and data giants decide to get deeper into the auto business, they will quickly define the landscape. That landscape is likely to be data driven. We think workflow, they think data flow. We think “You can’t do that,” they ask “Why not?”

Who wins out and whatever the eventual outcome, one thing I am certain of is that the future will be data driven. As one senior insurance executive said to me recently, “We sure make it complex for our customers to file a claim and have their vehicles repaired. Given all the data out there, we have to find a better way.” I agree.

The technology and data exist to streamline the auto claims and repair process. We have followed the same process for more than 20 years. It’s time to move on and reinvent.

I think we are getting there and I see this as the beginning of the end of the old process, and end of the beginning of a new one — one where technology, data, and customer convenience converge.