Meet the insurtech: Avinew

Dan Peate has been on both sides of the startup world, and both sides of the insurance world. While working as a sales and marketing executive for insurance broker Arthur J. Gallagher, he invested some of his bonus money into startup companies on a relatively informal basis.

“There was no real thought process — someone would pitch me an idea, I thought it was cool and I’d invest,” he says. “One of them worked out, and that’s when I realized I wanted to do that with my life.”

Peate started a small venture fund and invested in six companies, four of them along with Draper Associates. One of them was Hixme, a digital health insurance agency, which brought him back home to the insurance industry. Later, he says, he was observing the rise of driverless cars and felt that “meant you had another driver in the car and insurance needed to change.”

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The switch for Nissan Motor Co.'s ProPilot autonomous-drive technology. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

“If insurance has to be different when I’m driving and when the car’s driving, and the insurance looks different for those drivers, we have to be able to track when the car is driving when the car is driving, who is driving when and how often,” he says`.

That led to the development of Avinew, which is trying to collect that data to provide usage-based insurance programs that changes with the user, whether it’s a person or the car itself. Avinew plans to go live with its first products in early 2020; it recently acquired the company Betterdrive, which was working on usage-based insurance technology of its own that included real-time route recommendations. That offering will be folded into Avinew’s homegrown platform.

Peate says it’s a “magical moment” for the industry to be able to piece together this kind of digital ecosystem.

“We’re now in a pace where tech is rapidly changing. The connectiveness of things is causing that to happen. You don’t have to guess at what’s happening, you actually know. When you actually know, you can have a real time risk assessment.”

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