Committed to Innovation: The Master of Science in Data Science Program at the University of San Francisco

Here at Metromile, we are all about making car insurance more fair and less painful — some may call this a lofty goal. We know that all it takes to make auto insurance simple and seamless is a bit of data, some science, a lot of technology, and a dash of magic. From the outside looking in, revolutionizing the auto insurance industry may seem easy, but take a peek under our insurance hood, and you’ll quickly realize that it takes a lot of systemization to keep this engine running. And at a company whose whole mission is to reinvent ways to manage risk, it should come as no surprise that our Data Science team is constantly buzzing; building and testing new models and furiously working to analyze Metromile data to find new opportunities to fix how insurance is traditionally “done.”

pay-per-mile car insurance

Revolutionizing an antiquated industry is no easy feat. It takes a village – a village of brilliant humans that are constantly iterating and innovating. One of the best ways to foster a culture of innovation is to work with local University programs like The Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) Program at the University of San Francisco. It’s a win-win for both us, and the University because it gives students valuable business experience, and it gives us insight into new data patterns, trends, and opportunities.

The Program

The Practicum Program at USF pairs students with bay area companies, allowing them to apply their skills to gain experience, and reconcile mathematical theory with business practice. Each student is expected to create and refine a project with their partner company for 16 hours per week, while concurrently taking classes. This past Winter and Spring, we were lucky enough to have two USF students join us, Chenxi and Fang. They have spent the past six months trying to read mileage from odometer pictures, which can be used to correct the mileage measurements we receive from the Pulse device. This gets to the crux of what makes Metromile different from traditional insurers – we charge for insurance by the mile, so exact mileage is very important, and we are always looking for new ways to track mileage! Chenxi and Fang utilized some deep learning techniques, like the U-net model, in order to deal with object segmentation problems in computer vision.

The Project

During their time at Metromile, Chenxi and Fang applied state of the art techniques to real-world problems and gained experience using deep learning to solve computer vision challenges. Asking Chenxi and Fang what the most challenging part of their project was, they posited that the most taxing aspect was also what they learned the most from, “trying to solve a problem with limited resources and a relatively small dataset. We tried various ways to enlarge the dataset we have, as well as adjust the algorithms we used to overcome the issue.”

When asked whether or not they experienced a breakthrough moment, both Chenxi and Fang concluded. “There were several breakthrough moments during our work on this project, but the process is gradual and requires constant inputs and modification. The biggest challenge of our practicum was the project itself – extracting mileage from the odometer and correctly distinguishing that information from other similar numbers has turned out to be difficult. Luckily, our mentors have been patient and resourceful and have helped us a lot.”

One of these mentors, Chetan Ramaiah – a Data Science Manager here at Metromile – oversaw the internship program and recalled that Metromile had previously hired a 2016 participant of the program. It was the success from previous years that encouraged him to place Metromile in the program again. “The experiments conducted by Chenxi and Fang helped us identify a state of the art solution to a difficult research problem, and the process helped identify the various difficulties in modeling a solution to the problem. In addition, both Chenxi and Fang helped establish a benchmark on the quality of internship candidates.”

Internships at Metromile

According to Chetan, the project was a success.“The project adds a new dimension to Metromile’s mileage tracking abilities. The odometer project can independently verify and improve our mileage tracking from the Pulse and the OBD-II port.” Metromile looks forward to participating in the Practicum in coming years, and plans on taking on more Data Science and Engineer interns next summer. If you are interested in applying for an internship with Metromile please contact David Clifford, Director of Data Science (dclifford@metromile.com) or Mike Dicarlo, VP of Engineering (mdicarlo@metromile.com).

Connected Life 101

From laptops to smart phones to wearable trackers, we’re always connected. In fact, one-fifth of Americans reported being online constantly – from scrolling through social media on their commute, to using the internet all day at work to ordering delivery from an app. We’ve shared some of our favorite connected devices below.

connected cars

Home: Wired security systems are a thing of the past. Nest has three products that make any home a smart home: a thermostat that adapts life and changing seasons, a smoke alarm that you can you can silence and diagnose from your phone, and a security camera you can access from your phone that tracks both motion and sound alerts.

Car: You don’t have to have a fancy car to have a smart car. Metromile’s smart driving app, available to pay-per-mile customers, unlocks driving data and gives drivers information about their trips, trends, fuel levels, car location and more. It has even helped recover stolen cars! The Metromile app can also diagnose check engine lights. Find more information about Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance offering or get a free quote here.

Eats: From getting groceries delivered through Instacart, meal prep delivered via Blue Apron, or your favorite restaurant through Postmates, getting food fast at home is simple. Eatsa, available in San Francisco and L.A., is connecting you to a simple healthy meal when you want to go out! You can order via their mobile app, or via iPad in their restaurant.

Exercise: No time to hit the yoga studio? Many studios offer online classes, like yogisanonymous.com. With a laptop and a yoga mat, you could be on your way to a sweet savasana. And if you haven’t joined the wearables crowd, try a Fitbit fitness tracker! Not only can you count your steps and stairs climbed, you can challenge your friends to see who can walk more in a week!

For more on how technology makes our life our life easier, check out this blog post.

5 Ways Technology Makes Your Life Easier

New technology has made it easier (and cheaper) to tackle chores and daily pains – from a long commute to work to splitting a check between 10 people at dinner. Below are some of our favorite modern conveniences.

pay-per-mile insurance

  • Spring Cleaning: Is your laundry piling up? Try Washio or Rinse to have your laundry picked up, cleaned and delivered without a second thought. And if you need a deep clean or your furniture assembled, book a cleaner or handyman instantly with Handy.
  • Transportation: Not only can you request a car to your door via Uber or Lyft, you can also access personal driving data and trends from your phone! For pay-per-mile car insurance customers, Metromile has a free app that gives drivers access to their data such as trips and trends, fuel level, car location and car health. We even issue street sweeping alerts in select markets.
  • Pets: If you have a dog in a city, chances are you’ll need a walker to let your dog out during the day. Wag! Has dog walkers on-demand ready to walk your pup, and they’ll even deliver a free lockbox to your apartment.
  • Payment: With mobile payment apps such as Venmo and Apple Pay, you can pay or charge people with the click of the button. You can even pay for your groceries with your phone!
  • Meals: Options for food delivery are no longer limited to pizza and pad thai from the store next door, you can now have a fresh meal delivered to your door! If you’d like to cook the meal yourself, try Blue Apron who delivers recipes and exact amounts of ingredients to your door. But if you’d like a warm home-cooked meal at your door, check out Munchery.

If you find yourself using a ride-share to get to work, or putting more miles on your bike than car, pay-per-mile insurance might be the right modern convenience for you! Not only will you have access to your trip data, but you can view your bill in real time on the app. Learn more about Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance offering here.

Metromile Launches Pay-Per-Step Walking Insurance

Research has shown that our signature pay-per-mile car insurance offering has customers ditching their cars, many for their own two feet. Today, we’ve announced a new insurance offering to cover you from the disasters you could potentially face on foot: walking insurance.

Metromile’s walking insurance functions through its new smart walking app: the Metromile Pace. Several factors will be considered when creating your unique per-step rate, including broken bone history, clumsiness score and type of walking shoes.

Customers who sign up for the Metromile Pace will be covered in the event of:

  • Being caught in an unexpected rainstorm
  • Losing footing, tripping or falling
  • Worn out socks and shoes
  • Emergency walk-side assistance
  • And more!

It’s time to toss your pedometers! Users will see increased benefits with the walking insurance feature, including tracking number of steps, miles logged, shoe health and more. We’re especially excited about the “Walk Much?” feature that is able to gauge fall severity based on impact and immediately alerts emergency operators.

We’re offering a safe-walker discount for walkers who commit to not walk-and-text, use the handrail when available, and follow the safe route recommended by their Metromile Pace. There is also a bonus offer for adding a foot care package to your walking insurance, which includes a monthly pedicure and new pair of socks.

 

April Fools’! While we don’t actually offer pay-per-step walking insurance, we do offer pay-per-mile car insurance for low-mileage drivers. Get a free quote here.

4 Reasons Why Self-Driving Cars Are a Big Deal

Breakthroughs in self-driving car technology are becoming more frequent, but the concept might still seem very far-off. Before you brush off the idea of driverless cars, thinking it won’t apply to your own life anytime soon, think again. It’s looking pretty likely that autonomous technology will be available for the masses in the next decade or so! If you are wondering why this is such a big deal, here are four ways that self-driving cars will revolutionize the way we get around.

self_driving_cars

  1. Taxis (and Uber and Lyft) will be a lot cheaper. Since the cost of a driver will be removed from the equation, it will be much less expensive to operate taxis and all ridesharing platforms. That means cheaper rides for everyone! Because of the lower prices, many people will opt to take taxis versus driving their own car, which means there will be fewer cars on the road. This also means less traffic and less demand for parking. The best news? This is one of the most likely scenarios to happen soon, as Uber and Lyft are key proponents of autonomous technology and already putting forth substantial efforts into its development.
  2. Lives will be saved. Self-driving cars won’t be capable of doing risky (and illegal) things like speeding or drinking and driving, which means there will be far fewer accident-related deaths. In 2013, car accidents killed 32,000 people, which means we could save close to that many lives with the intelligence of self-driving cars.
  3. There will be less pollution. While we don’t know the exact specifications of self-driving cars, it’s presumed that they will have substantial energy efficiency benefits. A new report from the Intelligent Transportation Society is one of the first to quantify the benefits and projects a 2-4% reduction in oil consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions each year as “intelligent transportation systems” become available to the masses.
  4. The elderly will have more mobility. Self-driving cars will make it easier for the elderly and those who are vision impaired to get around since they will no longer have to rely on a driver to take them places. This will give them the freedom to move around according to their own schedules.

It’s pretty clear that the introduction of self-driving cars could have a significant impact on our everyday lives. Here at Metromile, we are especially excited to see how autonomous technology evolves and develops, as we are positioned to adapt our per-mile insurance model. Because we are able to segment periods of time (like with our Uber partnership where we can identify if a driver is driving for Uber or personal use), we’ll be able to help distinguish between when a car is controlled by a human or a computer. And if per-mile insurance is truly a future-proof concept, why not get started and start saving money today? Learn more at metromile.com/insurance.

The Best Car Tech Trends of 2015… and Now 2016

The past year was big regarding transportation innovations, and we anticipate 2016 to be even more momentous. As we look forward to a new year of breakthroughs, let’s take a look at the technology that is already paving the way.

car_technology_trends

Consumers take control with the connected car.
The internet-of-things is in full force, and we don’t expect things to slow down anytime soon. One of the key drivers of this trend lies within the automobile industry, and connected car technology is already redefining the way we get around. In 2015, Microsoft, Google and Apple all announced plans for proprietary connected car platforms, bringing mobile phone functionality to your car’s console, signifying that this will likely become the norm very soon.

This technology has still not reached the masses, so if you don’t have one of the brand-new smart cars touting fancy touch screen dashboards or augmented reality, you can still enjoy the connected car experience with recent innovations. Gone are the days when you had to struggle with a clicker to open your garage, now the door can automatically open upon your arrival! In fact, the connected car industry, including apps specifically designed for cars and enhanced navigation, is estimated to grow to nearly $290 billion by 2020. Here at Metromile, we are definitely on top of this trend. All of our customers receive the Pulse, which plugs into a car’s OBD port to measure exact mileage and provide smart services like a car locator and a car health monitor. By using technology to measure exact mileage, we can save our low-mileage customers a lot of money.

The automotive industry capitalizes on big data.
Big data is another trend that continued to gain significant traction in 2015, and just like connected car technology, it is having a huge impact in the automotive industry. Manufacturers, insurers and transportation providers all have access to massive amounts of data, and if analyzed and applied correctly, can revolutionize the way they operate. Service and warranty repair data, user sentiment surrounding specific features and real-world vehicle performance are all things that can be measured to inform future car models. Even supply chain management can benefit from a better usage of big data — workflow software is already helping to uncover potential flaws while a car part is still in the blueprint stage. As Metromile’s CEO Dan Preston points out in a recent Huffington Post piece, the insurance sector is surprisingly antiquated when it comes to big data, but at Metromile, we are capitalizing on it by basing the monthly bill off of exact mileage. (more…)

Predicting the Top Car Tech Trends

The past year was big regarding transportation innovations, and we anticipate 2016 to be even more momentous. As we look forward to a new year of breakthroughs, let’s take a look at the technology that is already paving the way.

car_technology_trends

Consumers take control with the connected car.
The internet-of-things is in full force, and we don’t expect things to slow down anytime soon. One of the key drivers of this trend lies within the automobile industry, and connected car technology is already redefining the way we get around. In 2015, Microsoft, Google and Apple all announced plans for proprietary connected car platforms, bringing mobile phone functionality to your car’s console, signifying that this will likely become the norm very soon.

This technology has still not reached the masses, so if you don’t have one of the brand-new smart cars touting fancy touch screen dashboards or augmented reality, you can still enjoy the connected car experience with recent innovations. Gone are the days when you had to struggle with a clicker to open your garage, now the door can automatically open upon your arrival! In fact, the connected car industry, including apps specifically designed for cars and enhanced navigation, is estimated to grow to nearly $290 billion by 2020. Here at Metromile, we are definitely on top of this trend. All of our customers receive the Pulse, which plugs into a car’s OBD port to measure exact mileage and provide smart services like a car locator and a car health monitor. By using technology to measure exact mileage, we can save our low-mileage customers a lot of money.

The automotive industry capitalizes on big data.
Big data is another trend that continued to gain significant traction in 2015, and just like connected car technology, it is having a huge impact in the automotive industry. Manufacturers, insurers and transportation providers all have access to massive amounts of data, and if analyzed and applied correctly, can revolutionize the way they operate. Service and warranty repair data, user sentiment surrounding specific features and real-world vehicle performance are all things that can be measured to inform future car models. Even supply chain management can benefit from a better usage of big data — workflow software is already helping to uncover potential flaws while a car part is still in the blueprint stage. As Metromile’s CEO Dan Preston points out in a recent Huffington Post piece, the insurance sector is surprisingly antiquated when it comes to big data, but at Metromile, we are capitalizing on it by basing the monthly bill off of exact mileage. (more…)

How Technology Will Revolutionize the Way we Get Around

There are a lot of cars on the road — 253 million to be exact. And the more cars there are on the road, the more chances there are for traffic, accidents and pollution. As cities begin to combat automotive saturation with new technology, it’s becoming pretty clear that fewer, yet smarter, cars is a key component of the future of transportation. To embark on a long trip, you could hop in a self-driving car, optimize the route to get to your destination as quick as possible, and also pick up a few passengers along the way. Many of these seemingly far-fetched concepts are already becoming a reality, which our CEO Dan Preston explores in a recent Medium article.

self_driving_car_insurance

The article highlights the three trends that we are already seeing progress with today: the rise of the ridesharing economy, new insurance models that incentivize driving less and the introduction of self-driving cars. As innovation is used to optimize the number of cars on the road and the way we drive, we should see the positive impact that having fewer, yet smarter, cars will have on our environment, economy and everyday lives. In fact, we recently ran a study with the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale and found that if everyone in the US reduced their driving by 6%, potential benefits could include saving 2,400 lives and $26 billion in accident-related costs

You can read the full article here, and stay tuned as we continue to investigate the latest trends in which technology meets transportation.

Safety, Savings and Why Self-Driving Cars Will Transform the Insurance Industry

We are hearing more and more about advancements in self-driving car technology and how it will revolutionize the way we get around. But what will the implications be on how (and if) we pay for car insurance? Advisory firm KPMG recently released a report detailing the impact self-driving cars will have on the insurance industry, and whether or not monthly premiums will become obsolete. While they foresee the size of the industry decreasing – as autonomous drivers are expected to be smarter and safer than their human counterparts – they also predict that companies who are positioned to adapt will see much success. As the first-movers in technology that allows segmentation of trips and the ability to base premiums off of exact mileage, we believe we will be one of the select few able and ready to conform to this rapidly changing automotive landscape.

self-driving car insurance

Many believe that the introduction of self-driving cars to consumers will bring about the most significant change to the automotive industry since its inception. One of the main reasons for this is the impact of autonomous car technology on safety. While the concept of self-driving cars may seem far off, we are already seeing early advancements in safety technology. The buzzed-about Tesla S has features such as lane drift detection, where the steering wheel vibrates if the driver changes lanes without signaling, and automatic emergency braking, where sensors will detect if a collision is impending and brake automatically. Tesla also recently rolled out the long-awaited “Autopilot” software, using sensors to keep the car within a lane, maintain a safe distance between cars and even change lanes. While the driver’s hands are still required to be on the wheel, as the efficacy of these innovations is proven, a hands-free future will be imminent. And as these features are vetted and become more accessible to consumers, there will likely be a reduction in accidents and number of claims filed. In fact, the report predicts that if self-driving cars hit the road around 2020, there could be an 80% reduction in accident frequency by 2040.

What about the other 20%? If these self-driving cars are destined to be so smart, what would account for anything higher than zero? The truth is, accidents will never completely go away. It would be great if self-driving cars could prevent themselves from the harm of Mother Nature, but we don’t anticipate that happening anytime soon. And maybe one day they will be able to deter thieves or the damage caused by humans, but again that’s unlikely. Insurance will still be needed, but premiums will likely be lower as the claim frequency will be drastically reduced.

The report suggests that many insurance providers believe the adoption of self-driving cars is far off and are taking a “business as usual” approach, delaying any fundamental changes. But as our CEO Dan Preston says in the report, “nimble companies that offer innovative insurance products that address the needs of consumers in a rapidly changing driving landscape will be best positioned to succeed.” Here at Metromile, we are already able to segment trips for Uber drivers, identifying when they are driving for Uber (and therefore covered by Uber insurance) and when they are driving for personal use. This model is something that could likely be adapted as self-driving cars are introduced to consumers.

So if self-driving cars could be both safer and more affordable (from an insurance standpoint), what’s preventing an earlier introduction to consumers? The report suggests that there are eight key elements that will drive transformation: convergence of new autonomous technologies, capability accessibility, consumer adoption, improved infrastructure, regulatory permission, legal responsibility and mobility services. If you would like to dive in deeper to the elements that could drive change, download the free KPMG report here.

The OBD-II: What’s it Doing for You?

Ever notice your mechanic plugging into that little port under your car’s dashboard? That port is part of the on-board diagnostic (OBD) system, and it is playing a major role in minimizing pollution caused by cars. Devices plugged into the OBD port are also providing important insights and optimizing the driving experience. If you missed our first blog about the history of the OBD port, here’s a quick rundown of why it exists and all of the innovative ways it is being used today.

The OBD system was first introduced in the 60’s as a way to measure a vehicle’s emissions. Decades later, a more robust version known as the OBD-II was introduced, also able to monitor parts of the chassis and body. In 1996, amendments to the Clean Air Act required the OBD-II to be built into all light-duty vehicles (aka all cars available to consumers) as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempts to reduce toxic emissions. If something in your engine malfunctions, your car might run just fine, but you could ultimately face expensive repair costs or unknowingly release toxins into the air like Benzene and Formaldehyde (potential human carcinogens). Because of this regulation, all cars will display a “check engine light” when something is wrong, and mechanics can plug into the OBD-II port to diagnose the problem. So just how bad could things get if we didn’t regulate emissions and monitor engine health? The photo below is not from a horror movie – it’s of LA in the 90’s before OBD ports were standard in all cars and it was hard to detect if an engine was dangerously inefficient.

OBD_device_benefits

Fast forward 20 years and the OBD system is proving to be an important factor in reducing the damaging effects of car emissions on our environment. Since the introduction of the Clean Air Act and the OBD requirement, toxic emissions have steadily decreased. Companies are also developing devices to use in tandem with the OBD-II port in all sorts of new and inventive ways. For example, our per-mile insurance customers plug the Metromile Pulse device into the OBD-II port to measure exact mileage. This enables us to provide low-mileage drivers with a more fair insurance pricing model, since their monthly bill is based on the miles they drive, not just on a rough estimate (which other insurance companies sometimes offer a small discount for). (more…)