With the coronavirus pandemic providing little in the way of silver linings (even rock-bottom gas prices aren’t much of a bonus if you’re living under lockdown orders), Allstate has provided one of its own.
Given the vastly reduced number of vehicles on the road and the anticipated cratering in insurance claims, the provider is giving customers a temporary break.
Adhering to the latest industry trends, Ford has made a deal with insurer Allstate to share customer driving data and plans to issue a loyalty credit card tied into its rewards program. While the latter is in the service of retaining customers (with the help of Visa) in the second quarter of this year, the insurance partnership is technically already active. The Blue Oval is by no means the only automaker involved in such programs.
Like other automakers, Ford has already partnered with insurance companies in regional programs aimed at assessing how customers drive, using the collected information to adjust policies. Originally, this involved devices installed with the customer’s consent that transmitted telemetric data back to home base. Later versions were able to use on-board systems in conjunction with a downloadable app. Now, with connected cars becoming the norm, Allstate says it can just get the information directly from vehicles via manufacturer data centers.
Boston, the city that gave us both the New Kids On The Block and Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, placed dead last on Allstate’s 2016 America’s Best Drivers List. With the weather in Beantown turning blustery and cold, the Car Talk slogan of “don’t drive like my brother” has become hauntingly sound advice.
However Boston isn’t a singular example of a city with overzealous insurance claimants and certainly isn’t only location about to get hit with seasonally inclement weather. There are plenty of places where you’ll want to look out for other drivers just as much as you will icy patches of road this winter.
GM and Chrysler were already culling dealers before their bankruptcies, which hastened the process. Many of those dealerships were profitable businesses, often family owned, whether or not they were ultimately an asset to the parent automakers. Dealers have established regional brand equity, being major advertisers in their markets. The dealers losing their franchises have explored what few options they have. There are lobbying efforts at the state and national levels to protect the affected dealers with some kind of legislation. Some have signed up with Hyundai & Kia, as the low priced Korean automakers thrive in the recession. Others, recognizing that new car sales are often a wash, and that repair service and used car sales are profit centers, have stayed in business as used car dealerships or automotive service centers.
Now Sears Roebuck & Co. has offered some of those culled dealers another lifeline. Banking on the reputation of its DieHard battery brand as well as being one of the country’s leader tire retailers, Sears is launching the Independent Sears Auto Center franchise program, starting with a former Chrysler dealer in New Jersey, the Coleman Auto Group. Participating stores will offer Sears’ full automotive product line of batteries, tire, accesories as well as repair services and replacement parts.