Avinew, Autonomy Focused InsurTech, Acquires Betterdrive

CEO and Founder of Betterdrive and Former Apple Engineer, Ravindhran Sankar, Joins Avinew as Director of Research & Development.

(Image source: Avinew.)

Avinew, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based InsurTech company specializing in insuring autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, has announced that it is acquiring Betterdrive, and that the company’s CEO and Founder, Ravindhran Sankar will be named Director of Research and Development. Avinew reports that it will integrate Betterdrive’s technology into its own proprietary system for predictive risk calculations and related pricing discounts.

Ravindhran Sankar, Director of Research and Development, Avinew.

Betterdrive, also known as Pear Technology, has developed technology to predict the probability of accidents based on the route, time of day, traffic and weather conditions. Drawing on correlated weather conditions and geo-located accident data from nearly 2 million incidents, the technology makes a “Risk of Route” calculation in near real-time and provides drivers with less risky route alternatives.

Avinew’s insurance offerings, which are expected to go live in early 2020, will be autonomous-usage-based. The company uses machine learning and telematics to detect and measure when consumers engage their vehicle’s semi-autonomous or autonomous capability responsibly, thus determining the premium discount the driver is eligible for. The addition of the Betterdrive technology will enable Avinew to help consumers select the safest routes every time they drive.

Combination of New Auto Tech and Essential Data

“The auto insurance industry really hasn’t changed much since its inception nearly 100 years ago and, with the availability of electronic and autonomous vehicles, it’s ripe for disruption. Imagine an insurance product that can actually help make drivers—and their passengers—safer,” comments Dan Peate, CEO and Founder of Avinew. “The benefits of today’s new auto tech combined with access to essential data support Avinew’s goal to provide car owners with solutions that provide more value, a better overall customer experience, and increased safety.”

Dan Peate, Founder and CEO, Avinew.

“As mobility undergoes a worldwide transformation, fueled by new technologies, auto insurance needs to change to become dynamic, on-demand and adaptive,” comments Randy Adams, CTO, Avinew. “Insurance underwriting and risk assessment need to be real-time and algorithmically driven. We are building a portfolio of advanced technologies to do just that and our acquisition of Betterdrive will give us preeminent, real-time insights enabling us to provide our customers with discounts and suggestions of safer, alternate routes.”

Betterdrive’s technology is especially timely in light of a 12 percent increase in accident rates in the U.S. between 2013 and 2017. Betterdrive’s analysis showed that understanding accident hotspots in a city and routing around accident-prone intersections and neighborhoods can have a dramatic impact on risk. Betterdrive’s technology aims to help drivers select routes that reduce the risk of accidents while only adding a few extra minutes to drive time. The following are examples of how Betterdrive’s route risk optimization data can help inform drivers of better route options, in the vendor’s description:

Randy Adams, CTO, Avinew.

Safer Route Alternatives: The opportunity to reduce accident risk by 135 percent for trips taken within San Francisco, while only adding 3 minutes of drive-time to a 29-minute trip.

Staying Home on Dangerous Driving Days: The risk of accidents increases on holidays like New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day, and the 4th of July. For example, the accident rate on New Year’s Eve is 4 to 5 times greater than on a normal day due to the increased presence of intoxicated drivers on the road. This means even good drivers who aren’t intoxicated are at a 400% higher risk of accidents and injury.

In addition to the safety benefit provided by route risk optimization, Betterdrive’s technology supports the additional benefit of cost savings, according to Avinew.

“People typically have difficulty understanding the value of risk, but putting a dollar amount on it makes it easier for people to make decisions, notes Sankar, in his new role as Avinew’s Director of Research and Development. “Betterdrive’s technology provides auto owners with a risk model that gives them proactive feedback, helping them understand why they pay what the pay based on the amount they drive, and the distance, weather, and route of their drives. “The integration of this technology with Avinew’s autonomous tracker will provide customers with transparency and insight into the insurance prices they are paying, and why, for the first time. It will also help put Avinew in the unique position of being able to offer an insurance product that can actually make customers safer.”

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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