What are the major innovations happening in the automotive industry and how are you reacting to those?
The automotive industry is going through massive changes at a fast pace. Major innovations are happening around a few trends, which we would summarise with the acronym CASE: Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric.
At Movingdots, the technology arm of Swiss Re in the automotive and mobility space, we work to provide a product offering for insurers, car manufacturers and other players in the mobility landscape, driving them to success through these trends. The industry has recognized the strengths of our solutions by awarding our UBI product Coloride (available as app only or app + tag), the unique Swiss Re ADAS Risk Score and Swiss Re Smart Claims.
Moreover, we have solutions for electric vehicles (EVs) and for commercial fleets. The last two, initially launched in China due to local market prerogatives and data availability, later became part of our global portfolio.
How do the needs of reinsurers vary from those of insurers?
Insurers need to stay close to their customers and be able to embrace unprecedented data availability to offer products and related services that are up-to-date with the needs of today and tomorrow. They should focus on market-specific needs even when they have international reach.
Reinsurers don’t own customer relationships but have a long-term role in absorbing insurance losses and, ultimately, enabling risk-taking for society to progress. If in the past they were playing a more passive role as capital providers to insurers, they are now becoming more involved in the product design phase of innovative solutions, which they then reinsure.
As a reinsurer with a global presence and world-class product innovation, Swiss Re supports insurers through this complex tech-driven product innovation, which requires a vision, go-to-market strategy, marketing campaigns and, of course, sizeable investments.
To what extent have the firm’s main objectives changed since it was founded in 1999?
Movingdots was founded in 1999 as Stedinger Logistics Services GmbH, a small software company specialised in IT projects aimed at optimising logistics processes. A few years later, expanding the offering in fleet telematics and thanks to their technology, they implemented a messaging functionality to enable messaging to drivers.
In 2005, the first tracking devices enhanced with additional sensors, such as thermometers or door lock controls, were installed on lorries in order to determine their position. The first big corporate change happened in 2006, when the company joined the Hamburg-based IT consulting holding akquinet AG and was renamed akquinet SLS Logistics GmbH.
In 2014, it released its first insurance telematics product in the German market based on a dongle. One year later, Swiss Re purchased the company from akquinet AG, with the aim of turning it into its tech arm in the automotive and mobility space.
This was the moment in which I got involved, initially as CFO. We then began working on Coloride, Swiss Re’s app-based telematics solution. Since then, akquinet SLS, renamed Movingdots at the end of 2018 (and under my lead as of end of 2019) and Swiss Re have worked side by side to improve this product and increase the offering with ADAS Risk Score and Smart Claims. These are offered as stand-alone products or combined to insurers, OEMs and other mobility players, like the recently announced deal with BlaBlaCar in France.
How important are mobile experiences in your product roadmap?
The wide availability of mobile devices made developing telematics as app-based solutions an obvious choice for us.
On the one hand, phones are becoming more sophisticated thanks to the embedded sensors and the data they produce, and on the other hand, old technology like black boxes is expensive and sometimes requires professional installations that in turn require additional efforts and trigger even more costs.
When looking at specific markets, such as Italy, black boxes are still the prevailing choice, due to the local telematics needs. However, at a larger scale, if we look at a solution that can, in theory, be deployed globally, app-based telematics is the only viable option that can be complemented by a self-installing tag to improve trip recording or provide crash detection services.
Which emerging technologies are the most relevant to Movingdots?
As mentioned earlier, Movingdots and Swiss Re are developing products around CASE mobility trends.
In terms of connected mobility, the availability of large quantities of data with an increasing transmission speed, coupled with AI and machine learning techniques, enables us to provide personalised coaching to improve driving behaviour and safety on roads, among other things. For autonomous mobility, the path towards fully autonomous driving will be disruptive from an insurance perspective, as liability will likely shift from drivers to OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers.
Understanding and evaluating the technology behind ADAS and AV is key for insurers going forward. In terms of electric mobility, the whole world is following this closely and the transition is being accelerated by the race to zero emissions to help limit the effects of climate change on all of us.
EVs are not only a challenge for OEMs (how to build them, how to charge them quickly, how to ensure long ranges) but also for insurers and reinsurers (how to price battery coverages? What are the different technologies behind them? Is there an impact of EVs on frequency and severity of claims?).
Shared mobility brings other challenges. As ownership seems to reduce overtime, what kind of insurance products will be needed in the shared mobility industry? Can we give individuals a driving score calculated through different driving sessions in different cars owned by different companies, which they can keep with them for the next car rental or leasing contract?
As you can see, these are really exciting times ahead.