Nationwide has big plans for its SmartRide usage-based insurance program, including a pay-per-mile option expected to roll out in 2018, according to the insurer’s vice president of personal auto product and pricing Larry Thursby.

Larry Thursby, Nationwide
Larry Thursby, Nationwide Nationwide

“The idea of pay-per-mile has been around a long time, but the tech to enable its delivery is [now] available,” he said. “Transparency as you move to pay-per-mile is important and we’ve learned through customer experiences how they want to engage.”

Nationwide has so far leveraged its telematics platform, launched in 2010, to provide driving feedback and premium discounts to customers. In addition to its pay-per-mile strategy, the Columbus, Ohio-based carrier is also looking to incorporate driver data into the claims process, particularly in first notice of loss.

Thursby and his colleagues envision using SmartRide’s ability to detect a claim—through airbag deployment or rapid deceleration sensors, for example—to offer customers emergency services, find nearby repair facilities or send tow trucks.

“Most accidents are small so I imagine we will email saying, ‘Hey, we think you got into a crash. Click this link to get in touch,’” he said. “We would have the customer’s information loaded, including location, time of day, type of vehicle and even a guess as to where the damage occurred on the car.”

The claims approach claims aligns with Nationwide’s strategy of helping make drivers safer on roads, especially during summer months when SmartRide subscribers use their cars the most. Nationwide reports just under 57,000 accidents were witnessed by UBI customers in August 2016, the most of any other month last year.

According to company data, drivers in Washington D.C., Colorado and New York have the worst driving habits and are more prone to suddenly accelerate. Drivers in Mississippi, Ohio and West Virginia are on the other end of the spectrum, and less frequently slam on the brakes.

“We see the worst driving habits come out in higher congestion or more dense population areas,” Thursby said, adding that states with the most idle time sitting in traffic brings out drivers more aggressive qualities.

Nationwide’s SmartRide platform collects data on hard braking, acceleration, miles driven and night driving, all contributing factors to auto accidents, the company says. It then relays that information to more than three million active users in 23 states in hopes of positively influencing their driving habits. All tips can be found on Nationwide’s web portal, SmartRide mobile app and, as of last month, the insurer’s Amazon Alexa Skill.

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