Sprint’s New UBI Products Include Driver Reports, Text-Stopper

There’s growth in the field of usage-based auto insurance (UBI), and it’s not just major car insurers that are driving it.

Telecommunications giant Sprint announced Tuesday that it would be adding text-disabling and car-connectivity features to the line of services offered under its usage-based Integrated Insurance Solutions (IIS) platform that launched last summer.

IIS’s UBI portfolio offers “insurance carriers and self-insured organizations tools to help them manage risk, reduce costs and improve profitability,” according to Sprint.

Features Provide Social Value, Sprint Says

Sprint’s new products stem from two partnerships.

In collaboration with Modus, Sprint is integrating features that disable texting and Internet-surfing into a device mounted onto a car’s on-board diagnostic port.  That integration kicks in almost instantly after the vehicle starts moving, going “beyond the technology of many app-based solutions” because its disabling features apply exclusively to the driver and bypass passengers and nearby vehicles, according to Sprint.

A partnership with IMS expands Sprint’s UBI portfolio with an “affordable aftermarket solution” for insurers interested in offering usage-based services that include reports on driving trips, driver behavior and geo-fencing, a “safety feature” that Sprint said parents often use to monitor the driving locations of their teenage driver.

Sprint executives said that the new products will not only bolster the line of available products for UBI but also have a social impact on traffic safety, particularly younger motorists.

In a survey of what it called the dubbed the “digital native” generation, New Jersey-based car insurer Plymouth Rock said Tuesday that about 7 out of every 10 drivers between 17 and 25 years old have seen a friend text or use their hands to operate a phone while driving.

Also in New Jersey, a state appeals court recently ruled that a 17-year-old could be held liable for an accident caused by a texting driver because she knew he was behind the wheel when she sent him a text.

“By addressing these important social issues through transparency, education and technology, we’re demonstrating how good technology works as a positive force in our society,” Ralph Reid, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Sprint, said in a statement.

Driving Data Goes to Cloud System, Get User-Friendly Translation

Sprint debuted IIS last year as the first offering of its kind from a telecommunications carrier, saying its “end-to-end” UBI services were a “low-cost, turn-key” solution to “trials and pilot programs” for insurers, many of which lack the ability to develop and integrate usage-based technology on their own.

The IIS in-car diagnostic device uses Sprint’s wireless network to relay vehicle data to a cloud-based system, where “driver-scoring software” translates the data into a user-friendly analysis that is easier for insurers and policyholders who want to track driving habits, rate policies and offer auto insurance discounts.

Speaking of user-friendly, Sprint announced a deal last month in which it was tapped as the preferred carrier for UBI programs offered by HIMEX, a company that uses its UBI 3D Virtual World technology to translate driving data into an eye-grabbing, “game-based” platform.

“Working with HIMEX to deliver complete, end-to-end UBI solutions to insurance companies is just one more way we’re leveraging our insurance and telematics expertise while extending the value of our network,” Kimberly Green-Kerr, Sprint’s regional vice president, said in a statement.

Experts and attendees could touch on those new developments tomorrow at the two-day Insurance Telematics USA 2013 convention in Chicago. Another topic of discussion will likely be customer receptiveness to telematics and programs that track driving data, which a recent LexisNexis survey said are options that American drivers find increasingly appealing.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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