Progressive Ponders the Future of UBI


UBI (usage-based insurance) programs are becoming one of the most widely successful examples of M2M technology. In many cases, users don’t know it by either one of those labels; all they know is the data can help save them money. And for market leaders like Progressive, that’s simply all that matters.

The company, which first filed for a patent on the technology in 1996, continues to make impressive waves in helping the average driver understand the role of data in helping them not only save money, but drive safer in the process. While clever marketing spots that include the now infamous “Flo” touting the value of Progressive’s Snapshot UBI device have certainly helped out, it might be more accurate to  call the success of Progressive a blend of market savvy and technology awareness.

Still, the numbers are the numbers. Dave Pratt, Progressive’s UBI general manager, runs them down: more than one million customers, more than six billion miles of driving data recorded, and more than one-third of new customers opting into the program.

But to Pratt, this is all merely a starting a point, acknowledging that we are still very much in the early stages of this UBI evolution. He says, “The technology we use today is very much seamless and easy to use, but we will continue to see an evolution and what we develop with the technology will take this even further.”

Without revealing too much in the way of future plans for UBI, Pratt suggests such things as additional value-added services tying into driver programs down the road as merely one vision for the program. With regards to those playing the biggest role in making such innovations happen, he believes it could come through contributions from multiple parties. Wireless carriers, telematics providers, and even the automotive OEMs (original-equipment manufacturers) should all have a stake in determining the future of UBI, says Pratt.

“The auto OEMs I believe will play a very important role in building telematics into the vehicles that will ultimately help the consumer share data with us,” says Pratt. “But overall, the technology infrastructure as a whole will be highly critical in being able to capture and transmit the data so that we can calculate a driver’s score at a faster and more efficient rate.”

Driving down the costs remains the No.1 priority for Progressive overall, with a goal of 4% underwriting profit for the company. That means the cost of the devices and data transmission will need to continually go down in order to allow a program like UBI to remain effective for the long run.

Pratt likes to believe the future of UBI is yet to be defined. When it comes to the consumer privacy concerns, data transmission rates, the role of auto OEMs, and much more, he sees many questions that still need to be answered. This June Pratt will be among the impressive lineup of keynote speakers at the Connected World Conference, June 10-13 in Santa Clara, Calif. He will be on hand to give an interactive Q&A and encourages your questions on the future of UBI, and even M2M in general.

Even if you cannot make it in person, email your questions to Mike Carrozzo at for consideration in what will certainly be a highly informative discussion on the future of UBI.

Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #UBI, #M2M

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