The restaurants and doughnut shops that you pass on your commute would love to predict when you’ll be driving by. Your auto insurer may already know, and could be looking for a way to profit from that information.
Allstate Corp. Chief Executive Officer Tom Wilson has been talking about eventually selling data to businesses that want to reach the insurer’s policyholders with real-time coupons or promotional materials. That’s similar to the strategy at Google Inc., Wilson said, and would prepare his company for a future in which safer roads mean the customer relationship has to be about more than paying claims.
“There’s a whole bunch of people who look at the insurance industry and say, ‘Oh, it’s sleepy; they’re not really smart,” Wilson said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York this month. “It’s for us to take them apart.”
Insurers led by Progressive Corp. have been using tracking devices that plug into vehicles to assess risks like how fast their customers drive, what hours they’re on the road and how hard they brake. The companies can then cut rates to help retain safe drivers. The same technology can monitor drivers’ location and could even provide updates on when car owners might need a fresh battery, or a new vehicle.
If insurers want to sell the information, “we would consume it,” Dean Stoecker, the CEO of Alteryx, said in a phone interview. The data-analytics company has more than 700 customers -- including Dunkin’ Donuts, Ford Motor Co., Starbucks Corp., and McDonald’s Corp. -- that can use the information to target ads and develop strategies.
‘No Way in Hell’
Alteryx’s customers want to know “where people are at any point in time, when they pass that billboard on the 405,” Stoecker said, referring to a highway that skirts the coastline in Southern California.
The merchants could reach drivers through computer screens in their cars, apps on their phones or via e-mails before a routine commute.
One challenge for insurers has been convincing customers to share their data, something that Internet users routinely do.
“You get about 40 percent of people saying, ‘No way in hell,’” Progressive CEO Glenn Renwick said in 2013.