Sprint Expands User-Based Insurance Platform

Sprint is expanding its user-based insurance platform — Integrated Insurance Solutions — with two new products that the company believes is the next step for UBI 2.0.

Working with Modus, Sprint launched a text disablement product that is hard wired into a device that plugs into the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic port (OBDII). The driver’s cell phone is blocked from sending and receiving text messages and surfing the Web. Blocking engages almost instantly when the vehicle begins to move but it does not affect passengers or nearby vehicles. The new text disablement system also includes geo-fencing, a safety feature that alerts parents when teen drivers stray too far.

Sprint plans to unveil additional text disablement options for auto insurance carriers in 2014.

Drivers are 23 times more likely to crash if they’re texting while driving, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

“Text disablement enables auto insurance carriers and self-insured organizations to improve driver risk assessment and encourage good driving behavior,” said Ben Vos-vice president, Emerging Solutions Group, Sprint. “We are working to simplify the complexities of usage-based insurance. Using Sprint machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, both insurers and policyholders gain access to important analytical data about driving behavior.”

Integrated Insurance Solutions from Sprint is a usage-based insurance platform that gives insurance carriers and self-insured organizations tools to help them manage risk, reduce costs and improve profitability. Policyholders can opt to have their vehicles fitted with a small device that plugs into the diagnostic port that captures data about their vehicles’ operation and performance. That data is transmitted over the Sprint wireless network to a cloud-based system that analyzes the information with driver-scoring software.

Sprint also announced that it is adding IMS to its Integrated Insurance Solutions ecosystem. Later this year, insurance carriers will have access to IMS’ scalable usage-based insurance program, giving them more ways to connect with policyholders by offering premium connected services, which could turn any car with an on-board diagnostic port into a connected vehicle with in-dash information and entertainment.

“This is the next phase of UBI, or UBI 2.0,” says Bill Faresich, senior product manager for usage-based insurance at Sprint. “Green driving reports, how to drive more gas efficiently with your car, customers want more. Vehicle diagnostics, social media, these are things that are adding to the customer experience.”

Premium connected services include: Vehicle health reports; Trip reports; Green report; Driver behavior; Geofencing; Accident detection; and Roadside assistance.

Voice-powered infotainment is also available for: Text messaging; Email; Phone calls; Local music; Internet radio; Facebook and Twitter updates; and Traffic routing.

Data is transmitted between the vehicle and a cloud-based system, over the Sprint network, where it can then be aggregated and scored by IMS, Towers Watson, Agnik or the insurance carrier’s existing scoring partner. The system functions with or without GPS, in accordance with state law.

Faresich says insurance discounts for using user-based insurance devices are no longer enough when it comes to consumer satisfaction. Customers want more. Many insurance companies getting ready to try UBI, or are already trying it, he says. Insurers are learning how to work with the data and trying to understand how to offer the customer the best experience.

While a recent survey of Progressive’s Snapshot users showed that some consumers are saying “no way” to the user-based insurance technology, Faresich says that’s not the case for Sprint.

“We have not seen a slowdown is use, and in 2014 you will see a lot more roll out,” he says.