Sprint announced a text disablement partnership this week for its UBI program. The underlying technology comes via another partnership between Modus, a provider of a usage-based insurance platform; and CellControl, which makes non-pairing Bluetooth technology that blocks cellular signals in a moving car.
Both companies have existing insurance implementations in the marketplace: Esurance just announced this week that it had selected Modus to power its DriveSense UBI platform. CellControl also works with Esurance, as well as PURE Insurance and others. Nathan George, VP of technology for Modus, said that the companies started working together when they discovered overlap both strategically and technologically.
"They're collecting a subset of the same data that we have to collect to do UBI, and it just seemed a very simple thing to do some simple integration work," George says. "And the more statistical data that comes about the results of distracted driving, insurance companies that launch this as a part of their UBI program are going to have a fantastic PR opportunity. It's an initial incentive that helps to reduce that big brother feeling."
CellControl VP Kevin Coppolino says that the company's founder started it after seeing how distracted his near driving-age son was by text messaging. But once the company developed the technology, it was initially only profitable to sell it in the commercial market. Now, he says, integration with usage-based insurance programs offer an opportunity to give the tech to whom it was intended: consumers.
"A national consumer campaign for us would be a $20 million campaign, and so our technology was originally developed for the commercial fleet market," he says. "But insurers have a vested interest in the safety of their policyholders. There is immediate impact, helping to justify some of these driver behavior programs."