Tesla’s Safety Score system may still be in its early stages, but it seems to be a key part of some of the company’s upcoming products. This is particularly true for the Safety Score system, which was recently launched ahead of FSD Beta’s expansion. As observed by Tesla owners who signed up for the company’s in-house insurance in Texas, their rates would be directly tied to their respective Safety Scores.
This is something that would be expected as Tesla expands its in-house insurance service to other states, and perhaps even abroad. As mentioned by CFO Zachary Kirkhorn during the recently-held Q3 2021 earnings call, insurance costs are generally not the fairest thing in the market, with low-risk owners typically overpaying on their rates to subsidize drivers who were riskier on the road. Kirkhorn explained that the car insurance market, in its current state, uses limited data. Fortunately, data just happens to be one of Tesla’s biggest strengths.
“We entered the insurance market kind of unintentionally, I would say. Our customers were coming to us, complaining that the price of traditional insurance was too high and it was reducing the affordability of a Tesla… As we started to do more research, essentially, the tools by which the insurance is traditionally calculated are optimized based upon the existing data, but the existing data is limited. So there’s a focus on things like marital status or age or other attributes like that. Accident history is a good one, etc.
“But what essentially happens here is customers who are low risk and don’t actually file many claims end up overpaying on their insurance relative to their cost. That overpayment then goes to riskier customers who are essentially being subsidized. And, you know, as we looked at this and we looked at the data, we thought this just doesn’t seem like it’s fair. At Tesla, because our cars are connected, because they are essentially computers on wheels, there’s enormous amounts of data that we have available to us to be able to assess the attributes of a driver who’s operating that car and whether those attributes correlate with safety because we do get a signal when a car has been in an accident,” the CFO remarked.
Tesla then proceeded to analyze literally billions of miles of driving history from its fleet, and from this study came a model that was able to predict with decent accuracy the probability of collisions over time. But this was just the beginning. Tesla has learned and is continuing to learn a lot more about its fleet, particularly as the company rolled out its Safety Score system and the FSD Beta Enrollment Program.
“We have almost 150,000 cars currently using a safety score. And I believe the latest data is over 100 million miles of driving. So we’ve been able to go back and analyze that data. And we’ve learned two things coming from that. The first is that the probability of collision for a customer using a safety score versus not is 30% lower. It’s a pretty big difference. It means that the product is working and customers are responding to it. The second thing that we’ve looked at is what is the probability of collision based upon actual data as a function of a driver safety score.
“And that is aligning with our models. Most notably, if you’re in the top tier of safety compared to lower tiers, there’s multiple X difference in probability of collision based upon actual data. So this is a very new and very exciting frontier for us. I know that was long-winded, but I — we spent a lot of time on this and we put a lot of thought into it… So we’re very excited about it. We’re excited about individual risk-based pricing. We’re excited about the ability for folks to become safer and, as a result, save money. And it feeds into our priority of a company — of building the safest products in the world,” Kirkhorn concluded.
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