Last month Netscape founder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen published a thought-provoking essay in the Wall Street Journal about the propensity of software to “eat” existing business models and even entire industries whole.

This cataclysmal aspect of emerging technologies was much in mind for me last week at the Telematics Update’s Insurance Telematics 2011 Conference here in Chicago. In the context of insurance, telematics is the fusion of telecommunications hardware (GPS, wireless) with traditional information gathering and analytics technology. The ascent of telematics has meant that forward-thinking auto insurers have been able to offer insured usage-based or pay-as-you-drive policies, with Progressive’s “Snap Shot,” State Farm’s “in Drive” and Allstate “drivewise” programs being prime examples.

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