How is the insurance industry playing a role in the deployment of connected, autonomous and new mobility systems? Don Civgin, President of Service Businesses at Allstate Corporation, is on a mission to make sure the traditional players in this field know that Allstate through its spin-off Arity is ready to be a critical player in making next-generation transportation a reality. With 20 billion miles of data this new company is ready to add to the safety equation by redefining insurance and risk and giving travelers the option of contributing to a new paradigm in personal transportation as well as transportation services. If you want to know more about Arity, check it out here.
Regina: (00:06) From GRIDSMART Technologies. I’m Regina Hopper. Welcome to POLICYSMART.
Regina: (00:18) Hello everybody and welcome to this edition of POLICYSMART where we are in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest 2019 and yes, it is as crazy, fun, complicated and it just pushes your limits intellectually as well as physically, um, on every level. But I’m here to do a panel on crowd sourcing for new mobility. And on the panel with me is a gentleman by the name of Don Civgin. He is President of Service Businesses for Allstate Corporation. You know, the insurance industry is now playing a big role in the deployment of connected, autonomous, and new mobility systems. And he is on a mission for you to know about a new spinoff called Arity. Take a listen. First of all, thank you so much for doing this today. This is, this is a little different for POLICYSMART in that we talked to people who usually, who are usually on the ground, right?
Regina: (01:26) Putting infrastructure in place, trying to figure out how they pay for it. Trying to figure out how they get interconnected. Trying to figure out how they say, Oh, well I’m supposed to be putting money into potholes, but now I’m putting money into data analysis or other sensors in the road. Along comes, I guess what we want to call the new mobility interconnected systems and people now see them as real. And the insurance vertical of all of this is a little new. So tell us where you guys are. Okay. Um, and then I want you to tell me how you ended up here personally.
Don: (02:06) Okay. Well first, thank you for having me in this conversation. Allstate started this a few years ago. For us. Uh, what we did is we looked at insurance in a, in a future world and said that we were convinced it’s going to change. Um, and it’s going to change for some good reasons. If you look at the transportation system in this country, it doesn’t work particularly well for people, for consumers. Um, the utilization of the private fleets, 4%. Um, we spend $3 trillion a year and moving people back and forth with a lot of congestion along the way. Probably worst of all 40,000 people die every year. And so, uh, we looked at that system and said, while it’s been that way for some time and it was never designed to be a bad system, it’s just layer upon layer upon layer, different modes of transportation, different legislative bodies and so forth.
Don: (02:58) Um, it’s just not a very good system for consumers. And so, uh, when you look now at the availability of data and sensors and just the fact that it’s everywhere, you combine that with computing power and artificial intelligence and the ability to do things we didn’t have a clue how to do 10 or 20 years ago. And then you combine that with different customer expectations around sharing and so forth. Uh, we see those three things beginning to come together in a way that will change mobility in the future. Uh, we think that’s really good for customers. We think it’s really good for the society. Um, our math says if we could improve the efficiency of transportation 20%, that’s $3,000 in every household’s pocket, which is nontrivial. And that’s all, that’s a lot of money.
Regina: (03:47) You mean, being from, I don’t have to pay for my car, I don’t have to pay for insurance on my car. I don’t have to. Yeah.
Don: (03:54) Put it all together and say 20%. If I have to spend 20% less as a household to move myself around. Um, it would be a combination of perhaps the cost of the car, the depreciation, the insurance, the gas, all that stuff. Got It. Parking road taxes and all that. Um, so when we look at that, we think that’s a wonderful thing for society to have happen. It’s great for customers, but if your insurance company, you have to take a look at yourself and say, well, insurance is going to be different in the future. Um, you know, I don’t know if it’s going to be five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years. But the reality is we’re talking about an environment where there’s less risk, right? People aren’t getting hurt as much. There aren’t as many accidents, Wonderful Society for society, wonderful for consumers, but there’s less risk to insure.
Don: (04:43) And you could argue it might be commercial risk. Is it your software, my hardware as opposed to personal risk? Is it, did you, have you caused the accident or did I cause the accident? So it’s not that our business is going to go away overnight, but we see an opportunity and a collection of things beginning to form that can create that sort of benefit for society and we’re excited about it. But as we continue to innovate in our core business, we then also look at all these other areas and we say, you know, we want to be part of that system. Um, which is why we have invested in Arit, which is a telematics and data insights company. Uh, we are beginning to explore a car sharing platform. We are building business and just acquired a business around digital safety for data. Um, and so a variety of different things that are very non traditional for us but will be required components of any sort of mobility future that we see. So we’re, we’re excited about it. It’s, um, it, it is still a relatively small part of all state. We’re a large company that sells a lot of auto insurance and homeowners insurance. But, uh, I, I think this is going to be something in the future that we’re excited to be part of.
Regina: (05:58) So I’d like to ask you a question kind of at a 50,000 foot level. So you guys are in the business of insuring, as you said, home cars, boats, whatever. Um, and the new mobility transportation field put all together is about, as you say, reducing the number of vehicles on the road, looking at car sharing initiatives. Um, we’re here in Austin together and I was almost run over by a scooter, so, so I guess…
Don: (06:29) Everybody’s almost run over by a scooter.
Regina: (06:30) Correct. So my, so my question is, is that, well, two fold. One, are cars really going to go away because we’re a big country and I can see the shared mobility services in the large cities, but not necessarily in the square states in the middle. So that’s my first question. My second question to build upon that is then how does risk get redefined? Because there’s always still, still going to be risk in the system.
Don: (06:57) Yeah. Well, uh, first I don’t see cars going away. You know, it’s so easy to look at the end state and say, ah, the place where it’s just like the Jetsons and everybody has an autonomous vehicle and it all works perfectly. It’s easy to visualize. That’s not what we’re starting with. And the path from here to there is, is massive and require so many different people, groups who don’t traditionally work well together or have not had to work together to come up with the solutions to kind of work through that path that it’s going to be very complicated. So this is, um, that’s one of the reasons Alltate’s involved as we really want to be part of the conversation and the dialogue about how to do this the right way. And that involves everything from regulators at different levels to insurance companies, to OEMs, the tier one supplier. Everybody has to be part of that system.
Regina: (07:46) Right. And Are you now, are you now starting to see, because I remember five years ago, six years ago when this conversation really started in earnest. In other words, this wasn’t the Jetsons anymore. This stuff is real and it’s starting to work. Are you now seeing that the insurance vertical of this is starting to be accepted into the conversation or is it still kind of a sideline?
Don: (08:08) I think insurance actually is one of the critical components of it because it, this entirely new system is going to have to be built around trust and it’s going to have to be built around when something does go wrong. How do we assign that blame and how do we assess it?
Regina: (08:22) So that’s the risk question.
Don: (08:23) Well, the risk question I would answer a little bit differently. Okay. Um, the, the future of insurance, insurance has always been based on where you live, the kind of car you drive, what your driving record and so forth, which are all very good indicators of risk. But in the future, insurance will be based on telematics. So, uh, where you live, what your driving record is, are interesting, but actually when, where and how you drive is far more predictive of risk. Uh, then the traditional elements that have been used.
Don: (08:55) And so we’re convinced that the future of insurance is going to be centered around telematics. That’s a good thing because there’s gonna be a lot of data available that’ll make it easier to assess risk and, and, and so forth. But then there’s a, another side that comes to it, which is not just pricing and insurance and risk, but how do then we take that data and create value back to the consumer in a way that they don’t get today. So I can use your driving data with your permission, obviously, to get you a quote on your insurance based on how you drive. That’s about price. I can also use that driving data normalize for all the other driving data we have from 80 plus billion miles of data that we have and give you safer driving instructions. We can tell you the safest route home right now. You can get the fastest or the shortest, but no one tells you what the safest way to go home is. Um, yeah.
Regina: (09:46) Oh, that’s interesting. Okay. I have to stop you that. Yeah, that’s actually interesting, right? Because the Wazes of the world…
Don: (09:52) Wait you mean, it wasn’t interesting before?
Regina: (09:52) well, [laughs] no, no, no, no. Sorry. No, but the Wazes of the world, right? Or The mapquest of the world or the GPS systems of the world or you’re right, that’s about, you know, I’m late. How do I get there faster? So you’re saying that that, that the data can actually be used to get you there. And I did see this in some of your materials, but I found it interesting. Can get you there more more safely. Yeah. Meaning how like that’s a safer road or ?
Don: (10:21) so, um, to, to be able to assess risk on any given segment of road. You need a lot of data, which is why this is now coming to fruition as opposed to 10 or 20 years ago. We started collecting driving data almost 10 years ago. Um, and through the various sources, whether it’s all state customers or other sources of data, we’ve got over 80 billion miles of data. And we have the claims data as well. So that not only do we know where an accident happens, when it happens, what time of day and so forth, but we can tell how bad those accidents are and what kind of losses resolved. When you put all that together and throw a lot of data and analytics people at it, what you begin to come up with is knowing how dangerous various road segments are at various times a day.
Don: (11:04) Hit that up against weather, hit that up against traffic in a variety of other things and it becomes easier to assess should I take this route home or that route home, which is likely to be safer. Um, so it’s about the cost of insurance. It’s also about making people safer, which also reduces the insurance cost. Obviously, it’s also about collision detection. It’s about even roadside detection. Like if, if you have a flat tire today, the usual outcome is somebody has to pick up a phone and figure out who to call and wait for something. Somebody to come rescue you. With data, You don’t really need to pick up the phone and call anybody. Most of the cars know you’ve had a flat tire, um, any, even if your car doesn’t have that capability, you can get much of this through the mobile device if you throw enough analytics at it. So I think there’s a, there’s a variety of things that will make customers lives better. Um, but it’s around data and it’s around telematics data and I think that’s the way insurance is going to be priced in the future.
Regina: (12:04) That’s interesting. So let’s, let’s talk about risk and I’m going to, I’m going to ask you about risk and you may see it one way and I may be talking about it in other way. So insurance, risk, health insurance, how healthy are you? Do you smoke? And all of these things go into it. Life Insurance, all the things that go into it. How do you now begin to define risk when you are talking about should I be insuring myself because I spend 75% of my time now and shared mobility versus my own car. So does the, does the definition of risk of the type of coverage elements change? And then I want to ask you a value, a values question. Yes.
Don: (12:44) Yeah. No, I think insurance absolutely has to change. I mean the traditional insurance policy is six months long. If you’re in an environment where you’re sharing your car three times a day for two hours at a time, did it for different people, the six months policy is, is inadequate to kind of deal with that level of granularity. Um, and if you don’t have the telematics data from the car, then you can’t really even properly price the components of it within that two hour time period. So insurance will have to change. Um, and I think it’s going to be around the structure of how we define risk. The time periods are going to be critical because in this new sharing economy, people may want it for 10 minutes, may want for 10 hours, or they may actually buy it for six months and decide they want to just drive their car themselves.
Regina: (13:31) So could you see it almost like a telecommunications sort of like, I’m going to buy so much coverage and I’m going to put it into effect. Like I just bought five months worth of coverage for when I’m in shared mobility, I’m in shared mobility. Boom. Now it goes into effect and I turn it off when I don’t need it?
Don: (13:47) Yeah, absolutely. Could be. And I think, and, and you said something that they want to, I want to trigger off, but you may not have to turn it off when you don’t need it. We should be actually able to know when you need it and when you don’t need it.
Regina: (14:01) When I’m getting in a rideshare or a scooter?
Don: (14:03) Honestly there’s, I mean the technology right now is, is, is so available to be able to tell, are you in a bus, riding in a bus someplace? Are you in a plane or are you in a car? And if you’re in a car, are you driving or are you a passenger? And through the mobile device with all the accelerometers and sensors in it, you know, if you get out on the left side of the car, chances are you were driving. If you get out on the right side of the car, chances are you were a passenger. It’s not a hundred percent perfect, but it is statistically valid. And so there’s a lot of things available to be able to make this really comfortable for the customer so they don’t have to work so hard at it.
Regina: (14:41) So, okay. This probably isn’t a risk question. It’s more of a values question. One of the things that I’m asked constantly is if you’re going to more of an interconnected society, my car is connected to the other car, those cars are connected to the infrastructure. You’re mixing it in with the autonomous vehicles that may or may not share the road well in certain areas. The judgment calls that have to be made by a human being are quantified to a certain degree, right?
Don: (15:17) Yep.
Regina: (15:17) I drive down the road. I’m in a residential area. Johnny hits the ball into the road. I see the ball, cat from across the street runs into the road the same time I have to make a judgment stop, take care of Johnny, take care of the cat. How do I do it? That’s, but that’s learning on the part of an autonomous vehicle. So from an insurance perspective, is there a value system type of insurance that needs to be thought about? In other words, for the autonomous vehicle owner, because that car is going to have to be making judgment calls based upon what it’s learned through artificial intelligence and use, right?
Don: (15:57) Yeah, it, it’s, it’s uh, it’s, it’s a thoughtful question. Um, let me start kind of at the beginning though, which is yes. Where you live in a system where, um, drivers make decisions all the time based on their learning experience and capabilities. Um, and I get this question all the time, which is I will never get an autonomous vehicle because I don’t trust the software right now. The reality is 94% of accidents are human error. And so I understand that having the software gives us, uh, an awesome responsibility, not only the handle the data the right way, uh, but also then to make sure that the systems have the right values in place and like they know where to go and where not to go and what to avoid and so forth. So I think it’s a very complicated question, but my money is actually on the software because the majority of the time the customer makes the driver makes the wrong decision.
Don: (16:53) So I think I’m oversimplifying it. So th there’s, there’s certainly a lot of barriers we have to get through before the software gets to the point where it’s reliable and people will trust it. Um, but I don’t think we’re that far off from it. And I think when you start with a 94% error rate from drivers, there’s a lot of room for improvement. You know, one of the things that happens, um, we were talking earlier about all the different constituents that need to think differently about mobility in the future. Um, one of them is the media. I mean everybody talks about the legal system and everything else. But you know, in the past year or so, there’ve been a couple of kind of high profile accidents, which were really unfortunate where people died. Um, and everybody went nuts over it and said, this is horrible. Look, the system is not trustworthy.
Don: (17:45) We should cut everything back. And I understand why they had that reaction because they were gruesome accidents and they shouldn’t have happened. Having said that, no one bothered to ask, wait a second, we’re 40,000 people a year dying now, and if we could cut that to 20,000 people a year, that’s a really noble goal. Instead, what happens is the first time one person dies, the lawyers get all excited. The media says, look, this is a horrible system. And I think we’ve gotta be really careful about the standards we apply to this new technology. I’m not trying to forgive kind of lax kind of work that gets, that could get done, but, um, come on, we’re killing 40,000 people here and we’re okay with it. And that number is one and a quarter million people in the world. And so there’s a lot of room for improvement when 94%, 94% of those are caused by people. So I, I’m, I’m not, I, I’m not, um, I’m not trying to make it sound simpler than it is. It’s still very complicated question. Um, but I think there’s a really big opportunity there.
Regina: (18:47) You know, it’s, it’s an interesting observation because someone told me once that when elevators were first entered into large buildings and you know, people no longer just took the stairs and four years elevators work just fine without elevator men. And of course at that time they were meant right when you got on the elevator yet a man and he made the elevator could work really fine on its own, but people had to learn that the elevator could work fine. And so that position slowly started going away. Do you think that industry as a whole, I know the automobile, uh, OEMs, um, have talked about it. I know that some of the DOTs have talked about it, but just industry as a whole have a responsibility to educate the public with regard to what these technologies are and what they can mean. Um, while at the same time knowing that not everyone is ever going to, it’s never going to be accepted 100%.
Don: (19:51) Yeah, I think everybody has a role in that. Not, not just the OEMs. I think the insurance companies do. I think the regulators do. I mean, your elevator example is, is dead on. Uh, two years ago I was at the University of Michigan, we were doing a class on innovation and we were talking about autonomous vehicles and there was a young woman in the back of the room and said, yeah, I just want to be clear. I will never get in a car that’s autonomous. I just never will. Yup. And I said, I understand that and understand exactly how you feel. Uh, so how did you fly to school? She said, yeah. I said, how’d you get here from the airport? She said I took a taxi. So who was driving? She said I don’t know. I said, Were they drunk? Were they paying attention? Did they just have a fight with somebody? You don’t know anything about them. Yet, That’s the system. We get in taxis all day long and we don’t really think about it. So, uh, I think people will get there, but it’s going to us building a system that works well. It’s going to require us to build a system that creates trust and then we have to get people conditions so that they begin to understand what the values are and you know, understand what the risks are.
Regina: (21:01) There are a lot of, this is data. A lot of this is my data. Um, I had a state DOT head tell me that she almost couldn’t put a new tolling system in because for some reason someone woke up after all these years and went wait, you may be collecting data on me so I’m not going to let you put that new toll system in. And what do, what do insurance companies as a whole have to do with helping the, helping the public understand why they should be giving you that data when they’re giving you that data. We just did a, a big POLICYSMART podcast with the privacy forum. Um, and they were talking about rental cars and how when you get in a rental car or these days you’re leaving a whole lot of your data behind. Um, so what are you all doing? Because you said this is telematics and data and its claims and all of these things that we’re giving you, um, to make people feel like that’s okay, I’m giving you my data and now you’re going to use it in this business.
Don: (21:55) Well, I mean, first you have to be responsible with the data. So, um, your policy should be straight forward. Uh, what you do with the data has to be the right things. Um, you know, there, there are a lot of people, not insurance companies, but there are a lot of people who are, um, the, our best and brightest. Somebody said that their objective function is to get you to click on something so they can make money. And I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Um, I think insurance companies and others really have to hold themselves to a higher standard, which is what are we doing responsible things with the data and be very transparent about it. I think the other thing we’ve got to do is create value for the customer in exchange for that data. So if we’re taking data and using it so that we can figure something out over here on the left, that’s interesting.
Don: (22:41) But the customer’s not getting anything for it. They’re not going to be interested in giving the data. Our experience has been when you are transparent with customers and you tell them what they’ll get in return, um, they’re okay sharing their data. They don’t want you to sell it. They don’t want you to do things he didn’t, they didn’t expect you to do and so forth. Um, and so I do think the telematics and the collection of data and the advancement of all these technologies can coexist with privacy and data and safety. Um, in fact, we’re, we’re building a business around data safety. Um, and so I think they can coexist. But you have to be very thoughtful about how you do it.
Regina: (23:19) So this wasn’t what you started out to do in your career, I’m guessing, was to talk about new mobility, what we thought we were going to do. So what do you think in looking at like over, over your career in this industry, um, what do you think are the couple of issues from your industry’s perspective that will make this more, real, faster, that will make this come about more, um, that will allow more people to experience new mobility in a safer way?
Don: (23:52) You know, I’ll, I’ll speak for all state and insurance, but I think it really ties into all the other constituents in this, in this, uh, very, very complicated transportation system. We have to, uh, I think we all have an important role to play in coming to the table, figuring out what solutions need to be worked out and how we need to change what we do to make those things work. I think the public, you know, Data’s interesting technology is interesting. There are kind of narrow vertical solutions for all sorts of things out there in the world. The customer just wants their lives to be easier. That’s really what they’re looking for. And so insurance alone can’t do that because it relies on so many other parts of the ecosystem. And I think that we have to come to the table along with everybody else and say, if the system’s going to change, let’s not fight it. Let’s figure out the right way to make a change so that it works for customers and it works for society. Being part of the dialogue and, um, pushing that conversation, even though it might not be advantageous to your core business. I think we’ve all got to take that approach to make this work.
Regina: (24:58) Okay. How do you, how are you getting your customers involved? I mean, Arity’s really interesting, right? I mean that I spend a lot of time looking at that on your website because it’s divided into four separate businesses, but at the same time that there’s any number of businesses underneath each of those. How, how do you get your customers to, to want to be a part of this and to understand that this is, that this is an important part of their future?
Don: (25:27) You know, we were always trying to figure out what solutions we can create the work for them. Um, and so with Arity, with our telematics and data business, uh, you know, it originally started as how can we price the insurance more accurately, uh, which is interesting for us than it is for the customer quite honestly. But it’s sin since then built into a business around, well, what values can you provide your customer? So it’s not just how do I price you more accurately? It’s how do I make you a safer driver? How do I give you all these other benefits such as if your car has a check engine light, nobody knows what that means. And so you have to go to the dealer, but you don’t know if you have to go today or you can go a week from now or if it’s an emergency. Um, things like that. There are solutions for it. You just have to go find what the, what values the customer will place on them and, and build around those.
Regina: (26:17) I see. So what else would you like to talk about? Um, is there anything, almost always people ask us, how are you interfacing with local and state officials in trying to move your particular projects forward? Or is there anything else that you would like to talk about if not that question?
Don: (26:38) We have, we live, we’re a public company that lives in a highly regulated business. And so, um, we have, we’re very used to dealing with regulators at the state level for insurance. And so we have strong relationships with departments of insurance. Obviously what we’re finding is that we have increasing responsibility, build relationships around, you know, if you’re doing car sharing and you’re starting to go into different states, then we need to make sure that the regulations are set up right so that they protect the consumers and so forth. So we’re, we’re involved in all of that. We have a very active, uh, government relations staff. They’re very busy these days. And, and I think, I think you have to, I mean, I, you know, there are companies out there who have kind of taken the approach. Let’s just start…
Regina: (27:25) Oh yeah!
Don: (27:25) We’ll do it. We’re going to do it.
Regina: (27:26) We’re going to do it…
Don: (27:27) And maybe they’ll catch up to us. Maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll figure out how to regulate it someday. I don’t think that’s okay. Even if you’re a startup. Um, but it absolutely is not okay if you’re a company like Allstate, um, we have a larger obligation to society than that. So, uh, we work very actively with, with all sorts of regulators to make sure that what we’re doing is part of a system that works for people
Regina: (27:50) And as the individual. So yes, you’re the, you work with Allstate and New York. You’ve helped brainchild a lot of this, moving this forward, but as the individual, did you see yourself doing this and are you glad that this is where you kind of ended up after the years of sort of approaching insurance in a more traditional fashion?
Don: (28:09) Uh, well, I’ve been with Allstate 10 years and I had no insurance background before I came to, Allstate.
Regina: (28:14) I read that. That was a Westinghouse? No.
Don: (28:18) One of the General Electric Company, one of the GE companies. So I’ve, I’ve had a very kind of a diverse background. Um, when I joined Allstate, uh, the reason I was really attracted to Allstate was because we were beginning to talk about and beginning to build around innovation and customers in a way that was very unique in this industry. That’s what got me hooked on Allstate in the first place. I didn’t start in this role. I started, uh, as a, as chief financial officer and ran our life company for a while. And I would tell people who listen, that I have the best job in the company because to be able to take the brand scale and reach of a company like Allstate and then apply it to these kinds of really important problems that require a different approach, um, is just a really unique opportunity. So I didn’t expect to be here. I guess I could’ve said I would have hoped to be here, but I’m excited about it nonetheless.
Regina: (29:14) That’s good. Well, we appreciate you taking time sitting down and talking with us and we will, it’s Arity. I believe I actually mispronounced it. So I’ll go back and fix that. But I would like to link that up in the, in our show notes because it’s really interesting. Is there anything else that you think that we didn’t cover that you’d like for folks to know about what you’re doing?
Don: (29:34) You know, if, if you have a chance, we’d love to show you Arity’s headquarters at the merchandise mart in Chicago. Um, you’ll begin to see the kind of culture we’re building so that we can attack some of these problems with some of the best and brightest minds we have. So, uh, we’d love to share that with you.
Regina: (29:50) Well we’ll do that and you know, we’ll do, I’m sure you’ve already got lots of video about what’s going on. So we will take those, we will link them in our show notes, we will show people and maybe get some information from you and then maybe we’ll do another podcast on what’s happening there. Thank you so much.
Don: (30:05) Thank you very much.
Regina: (30:08) So, thanks so much for listening and participating in the POLICYSMART podcast. You can download the POLICYSMART app on the Apple App Store and Google Play, and you can listen to the podcast on apple podcast, Google play, and now on Spotify. And also, please leave a review to help people like you, those interested in the next generation of mobility and intelligent transportation. Find us.