Liberty Mutual Partners With Subaru on Usage-Based Insurance

The company is expanding its usage-based insurance products by offering easy ways for some Subaru owners to share data.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jan 20, 2016

In the future, autonomous cars will erase human drivers—and human errors—from the transportation equation. But as long as humans pilot vehicles, insurance companies will want to better gauge their driving behaviors. Throughout the past decade, insurance firms have begun using telemetry systems, in the form of cellular network devices that plug into the onboard diagnostics (OBD) ports, to collect driving behavior data (relating to acceleration and braking, for instance).

According to a recent story published by the Wall Street Journal, insurers have garnered valuable statistics from the massive amount of data they've collected through these systems thus far—such as the correlation between hard braking and accidents. Allstate, for example, found that "drivers who slam on brakes more than eight times every 500 miles are 73 percent more likely to get into an accident in a given year," according to the article.

The RightTrack app
To entice drivers to participate in these programs, insurers offer rates based on the number of miles driven, or provide discounts for drivers that exhibit safe driving habits. It's generally called usage-based insurance.

With smartphones becoming ubiquitous and connected cars (with integrated Internet connectivity) becoming more common, insurers are starting to move away from relying on OBD devices to collect driving data. As the above-noted WSJ piece mentions, consumers' resistance to sharing location data with insurers (early OBD systems collected GPS data) has begun to wane.

Earlier this month, Liberty Mutual announced a partnership with carmaker Subaru, through which Liberty Mutual customers who drive a Subaru with the Internet-connected Starlink infotainment system can participate in the Liberty Mutual RightTrack usage-based insurance program (offered in 39 U.S. states, as well as in Washington, D.C.). These drivers will not need to use an OBD device. Instead, Liberty Mutual will collect driving behavior data through the RightTrack app running on Starlink. Drivers will also receive alerts via the app that inform them when they are consistently breaking too hard, along with other driving tips.

California-based Clarion, which sells audio, multimedia and connectivity services to carmakers, provides the cloud connectivity platform, known as Smart Access, that Starlink uses.

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