Autoinsurance.com: Usage-Based Auto Insurance Race Heating Up

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Sprint jumps into usage-based arena by offering vast telecom network to insurers

Sprint announced Thursday that it is offering a trial run for use of its technology suite to insurers seeking to establish usage-based insurance (UBI) programs, further complicating an already crowded fight among auto insurers who are capitalizing on an increasingly popular coverage option, according to autoinsurance.com.

Sprint’s Integrated Insurance Solutions (IIS) employs a “cloud-based system” that collects driver data that can be analyzed by auto insurance companies for rating purposes and presented to policyholders so that they can review their habits on the road. The system utilizes the telecommunications giant’s nationwide 3G network to transmit the data.

Sprint is offering IIS as a three-month “jump start” program to all insurers. 

The offering is the latest in the arena of UBI, which bases coverage rates on a motorist’s habits behind the wheel and other driving data. For example, frequent hard braking can run up costs, while the opposite can lead to discounts.

IIS technology was tested in a pilot program in Arizona through a partnership with Esurance, according to a Sprint statement.

Esurance recently launched its first UBI program in Texas “based on the success of that program,” adding yet another player in the race between insurers for the most-effective UBI program.

The company's offering a fully established network for driver monitoring could make it much easier for more insurers to offer usage-based discounts. Progressive already has its usage-based program, which it developed on its own, available in about 80 percent of the country.

Last week, Progressive announced that its UBI program, called Snapshot, would be open to policyholders at competing insurers as a one-month trial. Participants who test-run the program will be able to review their possible coverage savings before deciding if they want to switch insurers.

Progressive’s Snapshot has long been the largest UBI program in the market but has since seen competitors’ offerings edge into its territory.

In May, State Farm announced a partnership with Ford in which cars equipped with the automaker’s SYNC connectivity systems will be able to enroll in its UBI program. Under the partnership, such vehicles will be ready to participate in State Farm's Drive Safe & Save upon purchase.

The burgeoning UBI market has also produced some nasty competition. The Hartford and State Farm are currently facing a lawsuit brought by Progressive, which alleges that it is "suffering from the effects" of patent infringement.

For more on this and related issues, head to http://autoinsurance.com for access to an easy-to-use quote-comparison generator and informative resource pages.

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Charles Nguyen
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