Bridget Zoller is the Vice President Business Development Lead Western Region at Cover Whale, using data to make our roads safer and save lives. Bridget was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, a Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio and Co-Founder at PolicyFly, Inc.
Bridget, how is the dash cam changing the future of commercial auto insurance?
“Whether it's larger fleets or one truck outfits, dash cams have become a prominent fixture in the commercial trucking industry. The focus here is to go beyond the traditional insurance model and create actionable insights to employ coaching for our policyholders. It allows us to do insurance differently because we do continuous underwriting during the policy term. This continuous underwriting model is really what's changing the game. There are more bells and whistles, but if you're a good driver, you're now in a portfolio with other good drivers, and this can save the insureds money.
From a coaching perspective, I like to say the goal is to coach these drivers up, not out because the telematic data is an extremely helpful management tool if you're inclined to use it. Owners can really keep their fleet safe because we identify and coach at-risk drivers. Footage can provide strong evidence if the driver was at fault or not, and ROI (Return on Investment) is almost immediate. Oftentimes, parties are compelled to place blame on commercial vehicle operators, and the media tells truck accident stories of a sleeping, negligent driver that so often a juror jumps to a conclusion that the big rig should be liable for the damages and suitability from an accident. We all know that can't be the case a hundred percent of the time, so that footage can really help with claims exoneration. Going back to that underwriting or actuarial perspective, we are able to gather more insight into a driver's behavior with the ultimate goal of saving the insured money. Carriers and MGU’s (Managing General Underwriter) are given really valuable evidence if you're a good driver, which could result in lower premiums.
The adverse effect is in circumstances where we have habitual speeders or hard turns that are recorded. Then the insurance carrier could increase the premiums, or they could avoid the risk altogether. Our objective at Cover Whale is if we continue with this model and continue to grow into this new underwriting model with a hyper focus on safety, we could potentially provide better outcomes for truck drivers. What if we could reduce their insurance cost significantly, say by 50%? That's where the industry should head, for the good drivers."
In terms of the data that the technology allows carriers and underwriters to have access to, are truck drivers apprehensive about this technology?
“The adoption of this program and the dash cam features can be uncomfortable until one day that footage on camera is your bacon. The apprehension for truck drivers, in my opinion, boils down to a lack of knowledge of how the camera actually works. Privacy is really what creates these uneasy feelings, when in reality, this is not big brother. Millions of hours of footage is being generated here. No one cares what you look like while you're eating your lunch. The only time that that video is saved and sent to the provider is in the event of an accident.
One story I like to tell is we had an insured that was pushing back about installing the dash cam and inevitably adhered to the risk management program because the cost was right. Even when his agent was questioning why this is something that is required from our policies. This driver had a really clean record, no incidents to date. Then one day he's driving down the middle lane, 65 miles per hour, and an SUV is spinning outta control in front of him. The driver of the SUV was trying to blame our driver for the accident while we pulled the footage. That SUV was clearly spinning out of control well before there was any contact made. Again, this could be a driver's bacon; it could be their guardian angel. This driver was exonerated, and now he praises the Cover Whale dash cam program."
What are some of the cultural touch points at Cover Whale that lead to innovative thinking?
“We're a purpose-driven bunch that works incredibly hard. The founders of Cover Whale weren't technology guys; these were insurance people that love technology. Our proprietary technology elevated the archaic insurance model, to a best in class efficient platform but the core mission of the organization is to insure safe drivers create safer roads and potentially safe lives. We have brilliant, fearless leaders that recognized the gap in this industry, got in at the right time and have really identified some of those friction points for our agents. By leading with speed and technology, through our platform, we're making the lives of our agents much easier and speeding up some of those processes in the quote to bind world where sometimes you're waiting days, if not weeks for a quote. With us, we can get those out lightning fast.”
Are there any other fundamental shifts on the horizon for commercial trucking?
“There is a huge discussion in the industry right now in California with AB 5 (Assembly Bill 5), that's my home state. You may have heard about some protests at the ports, and the drivers are not happy. I'm sure we'll all adapt to it, but it'll be interesting to see how that plays out because that means that we're taking a model that has been around for quite some time and really flipping it upside down. Waves of vehicles and drivers are being removed and more new ventures will pop up. It'll be really interesting to see how this plays out. Other states may adopt it too.
The business process automation is where we excel. Our platform’s use of API and artificial intelligence capabilities help extract some of that static data for form processing in just a few clicks for our partners. In the past data sensitive tasks like MVRs, CAB reports, OOS scores are not only time consuming but they cost money. Our online platform puts forth a robotic process so an agent can get a quote and bind with ease.
A lot of these insurtechs forgot about the key component of this industry - relationships! While we are very proud of our techy ways, we still very much so want to keep this a relationship business. The speed for which quote to bind, and the technology only help us continue to forge strong relationships.”