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Gus Fuldner, head of insurance at Uber Technologies Inc., said for all the challenges that the ride-sharing model of transportation creates from an insurance perspective, there also are some positive aspects from a risk management perspective.
For one thing, people treat their own cars better than they would someone else's.
Also helpful is Uber's rating system, in which riders are asked to rate their trip from one to five stars.
“We get an extremely high response rate to that question because, basically, you can't immediately take another trip until you answer the survey, and so we're able to use that ... to identify drivers with low ratings,” Mr. Fuldner said.
Those drivers may be directed to an external training provider, he said.
Alternatively, if a driver has consistently bad ratings, is given warnings and a safety issue arises, their access to the Uber app is removed, Mr. Fuldner said.
“The other thing the rating system does that's even more powerful than screening out drivers is it changes driver behavior, because drivers are now being rated and so they want to provide good service,” he said.
“Drivers take pride in a 4.8 or 4.9” out of a possible 5 in the Uber system, Mr. Fuldner said. So, they ask riders what route they want to take and are more careful about speeding “because they know the person in back of the car is rating the trip,” Mr. Fuldner said.
“We're really sort of bundling these risk management tools and safety tools into the design of the app and the design of the overall process, and I think some of the carriers that we've been working with a couple of years have been pleasantly surprised by the loss performance, as they've really seen ... that when you have people driving their own car, when you have people being rated and people knowing they're being rated, you end up with a pretty good risk,” Mr. Fuldner said.
When there is an accident, it's handled expeditiously. Under the traditional model, the insurer sends out an adjuster to examine a car and then estimate the cost of the repair.
“Instead, most of that you can do just by visually inspecting the car,” Mr. Fuldner said.
Under a system developed with Uber's surplus lines insurer, James River Insurance Co., the adjuster sends a link to the driver, who sends back photos that allow the adjuster to do a “desk appraisal” of the damage.
This way, “the damages and the estimate can be agreed upon in the body shop in a manner of hours, as opposed to waiting for someone to come out and inspect the vehicle, which can take days,” and the driver can get back on the road more quickly, Mr. Fuldner said.
Gus Fuldner first encountered Uber Technologies Inc. as a user of the ride-sharing service.