Insurtechs Avinew, Betterdrive combine with goal of making driverless trips less risky

Avinew, an insurtech planning to target autonomous vehicles, has acquired Betterdrive, another insurtech that had been working on a usage-based insurance offering for students.

Operating under the brand name Pear Insurance, Betterdrive brings a proprietary system for predictive risk calculations and related pricing discounts to Avinew. The company's CEO and founder, Ravindhran Sankar, will be named director of R&D for Avinew.

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The interior view of a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S P90D, a model with some autopilot features, is seen during an exhibition featuring several self-driving cars outside of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Advocates of self-driving cars say the vehicles may revolutionize U.S. transportation enough so that the government can spend less money on roads, parking garages and public transportation systems. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg

"As mobility undergoes a worldwide transformation, fueled by new technologies, auto insurance needs to change to become dynamic, on-demand and adaptive. Insurance underwriting and risk assessment need to be real-time and algorithmically driven,” said Randy Adams, CTO of Avinew. “We are building a portfolio of advanced technologies to do just that and our acquisition of Betterdrive will give us preeminent, real-time insights enabling us to provide our customers with discounts and suggestions of safer, alternate routes."

Betterdrive's main selling point, the company says, was its ability to predict the riskiness of a given route, by combining weather and accident data, and offer alternatives.

"Betterdrive’s technology provides auto owners with a risk model that gives them proactive feedback, helping them understand why they pay what they pay based on the amount they drive, and the distance, weather, and route of their drives,” Sankar claims. “The integration of this technology with Avinew’s autonomous tracker will provide customers with transparency and insight into the insurance prices they are paying, and why, for the first time. It will also help put Avinew in the unique position of being able to offer an insurance product that can actually make customers safer.”

Avinew plans to go live with its first products in early 2020, using machine learning and telematics to detect and measure when consumers engage their vehicle’s semi-autonomous or autonomous capability and adjusting premium accordingly.

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