The future of telematics will depend on strategic partnerships: Q&A with Gina Minick

The future of telematics will depend on strategic partnerships: Q&A with Gina Minick
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Key Takeaways

Gina Minick, seasoned insuretech exec and former product leader at Lemonade, Arity, and Progressive joined Zendrive’s leadership team as VP of Product and Design. We recently sat down for an introductory interview with Minick, who shared what drew her to Zendrive and the Mobility Risk Intelligence space, her key considerations for a successful telematics program, and what she believes the future of the industry will entail. Here’s what she had to say.

To start us off, could you talk a little bit about yourself and your background? What brought you to Zendrive?

Gina Minick: My background is primarily in the auto insurance space. I've also spent some time in homeowner's insurance and commercial insurance. But the majority has been in auto insurance, very focused on telematics and finding ways to use telematics data to create better auto insurance products.

I've also not just worked on product teams and product development, but I've had some experience in pricing risk management and marketing, and it's been great to help me understand the big picture of how insurance companies operate and bring all these pieces together to create better products for the consumer.

As my career has evolved, one thing that’s been important to me as a mom of two girls has been having a job that's impactful. Zendrive's mission, making roads safer with data and analytics, really means something. It can make a difference in making people's lives better.

Also, being remote at Zendrive, my kids see me doing my job daily. They see me take meetings, talk about my work, and talk about what's important. I want them to believe that if they work hard, they can achieve anything and make a difference, too. 

So when I looked at the opportunity that Zendrive presented, and my experience, it felt like the perfect space where I can help make an impact, do something I love, and set an excellent example for my girls so they can grow up to be confident and feel like they can do anything.

Why telematics? What drove you to this space specifically?

GM: Using telematics data is just inherently fairer. Pricing consumers with this data just makes sense. You drive safely and you pay less for your auto insurance compared to someone who doesn't. 

That's the first part of what I think is interesting about the space. I also think this is a hard problem to solve. There is no easy answer; if there was, a good majority of policies would already incorporate telematics data. 

I like the challenge of pushing insurance companies toward better solutions. As an industry, we have to have ways for us to come together and make progress in this space because no one is going to do it alone. 

It's a hard problem to solve, and it's a really exciting, challenging problem that the industry is clearly struggling with. 

What do you find most interesting about Zendrive’s solutions, particularly looking ahead?

GM: I'm excited about Zendrive's products. I believe they are backed by best-in-class technology. The company also has years of experience in working to find this market fit and exploring where its capabilities and technology can drive the most value in the insurance and transportation ecosystem. 

And more recently, the team has been pushing to focus on some of these unique solutions through partnerships with major consumer apps, and with insurance companies that are leveraging this data to finally push through in the personal lines auto space and make progress where it's historically been hard to make. finding these unique patterns and ways to advance the space gets me excited. 

I’m also excited to work and support top-tier insurance carriers who have created sophisticated telematics programs and who are leading in this space. 

They've decided to invest in telematics, and being part of their story and helping them continue to move forward in the space is exciting; these companies are doing great things and believe in the same things that we do.

Apple recently launched Apple Crash Detection, which may cause a shift in consumer preferences and put more pressure on carriers and their tech partners to offer ACN. What’s your take on this? 

GM: We believe that making the roads safer and keeping families safe is very important. Again, I love doing things at my job that are impactful and helping just to drive a positive impact on people in their lives. So it's actually great to see this feature from Apple, where they're investing in continuing to refine their technology and services for a feature that supports a mission that we believe very strongly in.

Zendrive cracked the code years ago on crash detection, not just detecting the crash but also helping insurance companies and other companies trying to keep people safe on the roads continue to take that feature to the next level. I'm thrilled about the things that Zendrive is working on, like the partnership with CCC, where we can help close the loop on the full crash cycle and help consumers work with their insurance company to become whole again. That's what insurance is all about. 

Seeing Apple advance in this space too makes me feel optimistic, and that it can do nothing but strengthen the features and services that we believe in. it actually validates market fit, and I hope that we see more iterations of this product in the future. 

Ultimately, we want to keep our roads safe, we want to avoid accidents from happening, and it’s great to see many companies on board with this mission, too.

Let’s talk about telematics adoption. Most large insurers offer telematics programs to their customers. However, the adoption rate is still hovering around 10-15%. What are some of the barriers to adoption? 

GM: It’s a very hard problem for insurance companies that we're still working to solve as an industry. The barrier for insurance companies is they are trying to price accurately on day one, and they generally don't have telematics data to best assess risk. If they do close that sale after providing a quote to a consumer, then they want a very simple experience.

But they have to ask for telematics data. They have to add more steps to their onboarding process. it still feels clunky or painful to be able to incorporate more telematics data for a customer as early as possible in the process. The challenge, as we all know, is getting the data as early as possible.

But that data exists. Many of us have location services turned on on our phones, or have a connected car, or in another aspect of our lives, we have some way we’re collecting data about how we move around in the world. The challenge has been around finding a way to match that data that exists with the consumer so that it's not a burden on the consumer.

The opportunity that we have in the partnerships that we're creating is working to create solutions to close that gap so we can continue to push and get better penetration through telematics with consumers. 

What are some of the key considerations for running a successful smartphone-centric telematics program? If you had a magic wand and could build your dream telematics solutions, what would it look like?

GM: Key considerations for running a successful smartphone telematics program include things like keeping it simple for the consumer. We want to collect the data, and we want to make it simple. So often, we need a clear way to add value for the consumer so that we can collect the data and continue to do so as long as we need to. But we need to keep it simple and not over-invest in one feature.

When it comes to creating the perfect telematics program, I think the challenge here is you need to build something that consumers want. How do you understand what motivates the consumer, and get them to share data that is so valuable in understanding how much risk they present on the road? 

The reality of not having that data is that safe drivers are subsidizing people who are left safe on the road and present a higher risk, and that doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel like the right dynamic when I know I'm a safe driver on the road, and I see somebody flying past me. Yet, if we look the same on paper, we're paying the same price. 

But fundamentally, the most important thing is how we actually drive. bringing fairness to that dynamic just feels like it makes a lot of sense. one of the biggest things is connecting consumers with the right price based on the risk. And how do you do that? Find easy ways to collect driving data and then use it. Use the full power of that data to make it fairer for consumers. 

The last piece is, how do you also incentivize people to be safer? Not everyone's safe on the road. Everyone thinks they're safe, but the reality is half the people aren't safe drivers. But how do you help people to become safer on the road? You might be using your phone way more than you think you are because we are so addicted to our phones. 

How can you raise that awareness and help people stop doing things that might lead to accidents? Stop distracted driving by calling it out and helping drivers realize, if you do put your phone down, you could pay less for your auto insurance and avoid a costly claim from happening. 

What does the future look like for telematics? 

GM:a key part of the future of telematics is filled with strategic partnerships and companies working together. I've believed this for a long time. I've held the belief that no one company will solve this problem alone. 

Zendrive has proven this to be true because we're working with companies across the ecosystem to pull together a solution that works for consumers, makes the experience easier for consumers, and still gets insurance companies the data that they need.

The companies that will be successful in telematics are those that are willing to invest in the value of the data, follow where the industry's going, and look for unique patterns to find ways to build partnerships to solve these problems together.

Follow us on LinkedIn to see more insights like these from influencers across the insurance and consumer apps spaces. To learn more about Zendrive and our solutions, click here.

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