General Motors is launching an insurance service, returning to a business that it abandoned more than a decade ago, but this time more in step with the connected-car era.
The service, called OnStar Insurance, will offer bundled auto, home and renters’ insurance, starting this year with GM employees in Arizona. GM’s new insurance agency, OnStar Insurance Services, will be the exclusive agent for OnStar Insurance. Homesite Insurance Group, an affiliate of American Family Insurance, will underwrite the program.
The services will be available to the public nationwide by the end of 2022, including people who drive vehicles outside of GM’s portfolio of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC branded cars, trucks and SUVs. The aim, however, is to leverage the vast amounts of data captured through its OnStar connected car service, which today has more than 16 million members in the United States.
GM’s pitch is that this data can be an asset to drivers and help them cash in on lower insurance rates based on safe driving habits.
“Our goal is really to create greater transparency and greater control for our customers in influencing what they pay for insurance and their total cost of ownership on the vehicles,” Russell Page, GM’s head of business intelligence said in a recent interview.
The data play is substantial. The company has logged more than 121 million GB of data usage across the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brands since the launch of 4G LTE in 2014.
The increase in internet-connected vehicles has in turn, produced loads of data. GM has been one of the data collection leaders, thanks to its long-established OnStar platform that launched in 1996. But GM is not the first, nor certainly the last automaker, to seek out ways to use that data to provide services such as insurance. Tesla, for instance, launched an insurance service in 2019 that promised to deliver rates 20% and even as high as 30% lower than other insurance providers. Earlier this year, TechCrunch reported that Rivian was hiring an insurance agency data manager, a job posting that suggested the all-electric automaker is planning to offer its own insurance to customers.
GM faces competition from the bevy of smartphone apps and dongle devices that plug into a vehicle’s OBD-II port that track a vehicle’s performance as well as driver data and are tied to discounts on insurance.
GM does have experience in the industry dating back to 1925. The automaker spun off its insurance business in 2008. GM contends that its telematics data coupled with its knowledge of the vehicle and its features will allow it to offer deep discounts to drivers.
“And we’re going to then leverage that as we learn and move forward in order to bring novel products to bear, over the next few years,” Page said. “Think of it as an iterative development process.”
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