Left on the cutting room floor of August’s feature on innovative technology development was an interview with CSAA’s Brian Gaab, the insurer’s strategy and development leader. His company’s piggyback approach to using existing technology by partnering with ride-sharing service Lyft for its auto claims is innovative in itself and worth taking note of.
Explain how the partnership with Lyft works?
With this partnership, our policyholders can receive up to $200 in rideshare credits in place of a rental car while their car is being repaired. The credits are valid for 45 days; if a repair takes longer, the customer will be eligible to receive a rental car. The pilot launched in January and is optional. Customers may instead choose a rental car, which is the traditional approach.
The pilot takes place in California. Why there?
While we offer insurance in 23 states and the District of Columbia, ridesharing is very popular in Northern California, so it made sense to launch the pilot program there. Although it is available to any of our insurance customers in this area, we expect uptake to be strongest in major metropolitan cities like San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose.
Do the credits expire when the car repairs are completed?
The credits do not expire and may be retained by the customer even after their car is repaired, within the 45-day period. This program is available to customers whose vehicles have suffered low-speed accidents requiring minor repair, and those repairs typically are resolved within 45 days.
What are some of the benefits of the program? Alternatively, what are the challenges you have faced?
Ridesharing is growing in popularity, so creating this option offers greater flexibility and convenience for our insurance customers, and it is also an environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional rental car. While Lyft continues to expand into new cities and markets, the credits may not be the preferred approach in areas where there are fewer Lyft drivers, so the rental car would likely make more sense in those instances.
Is it tough being an innovator?
To our knowledge, this type of collaboration is the first for an insurance company or a ride-sharing company, so we are excited for its potential. The focus of this pilot is on exploring new ways to make our customers’ lives easier, so whether we extend the program or not, we consider it a success. Over the course of the pilot, we’ll assess credit usage during loss of use. We’ll also work with Lyft to take a close look at the mileage per ride, associated costs, and other variables like reductions in secondary damages to the rental cars, which will help us determine if we will extend the pilot.
What’s the initial response been like?
We’ve been very encouraged—and pleasantly surprised—by the level of customer enthusiasm for the program. This indicates to us that our policyholders appreciate having more transportation choices, and that taking time to explore and develop innovative programs that make their lives easier is absolutely the correct approach.