Market Overview

Connected Car Startup Zubie Inks Deal With Progressive Insurance

Connected Car Startup Zubie Inks Deal With Progressive Insurance

Zubie, a connected car startup that was formed as a partnership between Best Buy and OpenAir Equity Partners, has teamed up with Progressive Insurance (NYSE: PGR).

The two companies are collaborating on an "industry-first telematics solution" that will reward consumers who drive safely.

"The Progressive partnership is really powerful and really interesting," Tim Kelly, CEO of Zubie, told Benzinga. "Progressive has been the market leader in the insurance category in using usage-based information to help rate policies. Because our Zubie customers are out driving everyday, we are able to capture the same type of information in our cloud that Progressive uses for underwriting purposes in its Snapshot program."

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The new partnership will allow Zubie customers to share their data with Progressive. Kelly stressed that this feature is purely optional. If consumers take advantage of it, Progressive will be able to use that data to provide an insurance quote.

"Zubie is the first time that [Progressive is] leveraging a connected car platform for the purpose of getting access to customers and data," said Kelly. "We think that's a great endorsement of our business and the momentum that we're getting in the marketplace."

Getting Connected

Zubie's pitch is pretty simple: the company aims to make driving easier, safer and less expensive. Kelly explained how Zubie's service accomplishes that.

"In the area of making driving safer, we're providing the customer with analytics with how they drive their cars and where their cars are at any given point in time," said Kelly. "That gets displayed to the customer through a driving score that gets updated after each drive."

If the driver is speeding, turning or braking in an unusual manner, Zubie will send an alert in real time.

"In the area of making driving less expensive, we provide the user with a complete set of diagnostic information about the car," Kelly explained. "So whenever there's an issue with the vehicle, the customer is notified about that in real-time. Instead of just saying, 'You've got a problem here,' we try to give greater context around that."

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If the engine light comes on, for example, Zubie will identify the problem and estimate how much the repair is likely to cost in the driver's area.

"It really puts the customer in a much stronger position to bridge the trust gap that many folks have with their service providers," said Kelly. "And to make sure they aren't getting taken advantage of when they're going in there and trying to maintain and service their vehicle."

Kelly said that Zubie makes driving easier by allowing users to set up groups for family trips, carpools and other scenarios where multiple cars may be taken. Traffic conditions are also provided.

"Another important point is that our device is connected through a cellular network," Kelly added. "Unlike [other] companies that are reliant on Bluetooth, we're never reliant on the phone or the app to be running in the background to keep the devices transmitting information to the cloud. The cellular connection ensures that the cars are always smart."

Zubie retails for $99.95 annually, but new subscribers can enter a code at checkout ("SCHOOL20") to save 20 percent.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.


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