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Insurers Return Money to Customers During Driving Slump

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Auto insurers Allstate Corp. and American Family Insurance are returning some money to customers as widespread shutdowns across the U.S. from the coronavirus cut down on driving.

Allstate expects to give back more than $600 million, with personal auto customers receiving 15% of their monthly premium in April and May, according to a statement April 6. American Family Insurance said it plans to return about $200 million to its auto-insurance customers through a one-time payment of $50 per covered vehicle.

“Given an unprecedented decline in driving, customers will receive a shelter-in-place payback of more than $600 million over the next two months,” Allstate CEO Tom Wilson said in his company’s statement. “This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents.”

States across the U.S. have issued stay-at-home mandates to help slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. That’s led to a decline in driving of about 35% to 50% in most states, Wilson said.

“We started with one week of data, and we sat down and said, ‘OK, what do we do about this?’ It’s one week of data. We don’t normally price on one week of data,” Wilson said on a media conference call April 6. “In about a week and half, we pulled this off. There was not one debate in our company about whether we should do this or not.”

Allstate said its first-quarter underwriting income will be cut by about $210 million before taxes because of the payback to holders of 18 million policies, with the remainder of the payback to be recognized in the second quarter. The company is also offering free identity protection for the rest of the year and payment relief for struggling customers.

“We think it is positive that Allstate took a proactive step to refund customers,” David Motemaden, an analyst at Evercore ISI, said in a note to clients April 6. “In addition to a good marketing opportunity, it likely also improves Allstate’s relationship with state regulators.”

The insurance industry has faced growing pressure from some policyholders and lawmakers to cover business interruption costs tied to the pandemic despite the fact that some experts have warned that many policies wouldn’t cover virus-related losses. While Allstate doesn’t have large business-interruption exposure, Wilson said that the country needs to build more resiliency around pandemic-related risks, but shouldn’t force the industry to pay for losses that it specifically hadn’t planned to cover.

“The way to have dealt with this was to have built a resilient set of financial protections around a pandemic before we got into it as opposed to trying to do it in the rearview mirror,” Wilson said. “I don’t believe that we should expand contracts and make people pay for stuff, even if it’s only temporarily.”

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Source: https://www.ttnews.com/articles/insurers-return-money-customers-during-driving-slump

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Mercedes-Benz EQS Interior Teaser Lets Designers Explain The Cabin

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JLR Cancels Electric Road Rover, Jaguar J-Pace Likely Dead As Well

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Uber spins out delivery robot startup as Serve Robotics

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Postmates X, the robotics division of the on-demand delivery startup that Uber acquired last year for $2.65 billion, has officially spun out as an independent company called Serve Robotics.

TechCrunch reported in January that a deal was being shopped to investors.

Serve Robotics, a name taken from the autonomous sidewalk delivery bot that was developed and piloted by Postmates X, has raised seed funding in a round led by venture capital firm Neo. Other investors included Uber as well as Lee Jacobs and Cyan Banister’s Long Journey Ventures, Western Technology Investment, Scott Banister, Farhad Mohit and Postmates co-founders Bastian Lehmann and Sean Plaice.

Serve Robotics didn’t share specifics of the funding except to confirm that the round, which will be a Series A, has not been completed yet. Funding a spin out can occur in phases, with the first tranche used for the initial launch and the rest of the round closing once IP has been transferred.

The new company will be run by Ali Kashani, who headed up Postmates X. Other co-founders include Dmitry Demeshchuk, the first engineer who joined the Serve team at Postmates and MJ Chun, who previously led product at Anki, has been heading up product strategy at Serve. The company is launching with 60 employees with headquarters in San Francisco and offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada.

Serve Robotics Uber Postmates

Image Credits: Serve Robotics

“While self-driving cars remove the driver, robotic delivery eliminates the car itself and makes deliveries sustainable and accessible to all,” said Kashani, co-founder and CEO of Serve Robotics. “Over the next two decades, new mobility robots will enter every aspect of our lives–first moving food, then everything else.”

Postmates’ exploration into sidewalk delivery bots began in earnest in 2017 after the company quietly acquired Kashani’s startup Lox Inc. As head of Postmates X, Kashani set out to answer the question: why move two-pound burritos with two-ton cars? Postmates revealed its first Serve autonomous delivery bot in December 2018. A second generation — with an identical design but different lidar sensors and few other upgrades — emerged in summer 2019 ahead of its planned commercial launch in Los Angeles.

The company’s mission to design, develop, and operate delivery robots specialized in navigating sidewalks will continue, albeit with an eye towards expansion. Serve will continue its delivery operations in Los Angeles. It plans to ramp up research and development in the San Francisco Bay area and expand its market reach through new partnerships.

The spin out is consistent with Uber’s aim to narrow the focus of its business on ride-hailing and delivery in a push towards profitability. This strategy began to take shape after Uber’s public market debut in May 2019 and accelerated last year as the COVID-19 pandemic put pressure on the ride-hailing company. Two years ago, Uber had enterprises across the transportation landscape, from ride-hailing and micromobility to logistics, public transit, food delivery and futuristic bets like autonomous vehicles and air taxis. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has dismantled the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach as he pushes the company toward profitability.

In 2020, Uber offloaded shared scooter and bike unit Jump in a complex deal with Lime, sold a stake worth $500 million in its logistics spinoff Uber Freight and rid itself of its autonomous vehicle unit Uber ATG and its air taxi play Uber Elevate. Aurora acquired Uber ATG in a deal that had a similar structure to the Jump-Lime transaction. Aurora didn’t pay cash for Uber ATG. Instead, Uber handed over its equity in ATG and invested $400 million into Aurora, which gave it a 26% stake in the combined company. In a similarly crafted deal, Uber Elevate was sold to Joby Aviation in December.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/02/uber-spins-out-delivery-robot-startup-as-serve-robotics/

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The 2022 C40 Recharge will be Volvo’s first leather-free EV

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Volvo is going all in on going green, the company announced during an online press event on Tuesday. The car maker pledged to produce nothing but electrics by 2030, go fully carbon neutral by 2040 and to begin selling its vehicles virtually — startin… Checkout PrimeXBT
Source: https://www.engadget.com/the-2022-c-40-recharge-will-be-volvos-first-leather-free-ev-161142216.html

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