July 24, 2021

Rivian offers usage-based insurance to its buyers

Taking a page from Ford Motor Co. — one of its key investors — Rivian will offer usage-based insurance that can be purchased at the same time as a Rivian R1T pickup or R1S utility vehicle.

Like Ford, Rivian’s underwriter is Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

Rivian also is offering customers the ability to bundle their homeowner’s insurance and policies for other non-Rivian vehicles, as well as coverage for its off-road accessories.

The company promises a quote within minutes to customers who order their vehicle online.

The insurance offering is the latest enticement dangled by Rivian to customers to differentiate itself in an increasingly competitive EV landscape, as it develops a network of collision and service facilities and trains in-house product experts to provide personalized assistance on demand.

Initially, the insurance policies are available in 40 states, but they are expected to be available in 48 when the R1T launches in June. A Rivian spokeswoman said the company eventually will offer nationwide coverage when Alaska and Louisiana are added at a later date. In contrast, Tesla’s insurance offering is currently available only in California.

“Claims will be assigned to an adjuster at the insurance company and a Rivian insurance adviser will be available to support and answer questions throughout the process,” spokeswoman Rachel Maniago told Automotive News in an e-mail.

For drivers who use their vehicle’s Driver+ driving-assistance feature, Rivian promises to lower their insurance rates. Driver+ “automatically steers and adjusts the vehicle’s speed on highways” Rivian says. “When you opt in to this program, the more often you engage Active Driving Assistance, the lower your insurance rates when you renew,” according to a pitch on company’s website.

Ford’s insurance plan also offers discounts, but it is based on how the consumer drives the vehicle, not the vehicle’s self-driving features.

One of the big questions for Rivian — and other startups that eschew franchised dealer networks — is how they will provide parts, service and accident repairs.

Rivian is building a nationwide network of company-run service facilities that are expected to be operational in June, and to certify independent body shops to fix accident-damaged vehicles. The in-house insurance offering appears to tie all those loose ends together.

“With Rivian Collision Centers and Service Centers performing the work, we can ensure high-quality repairs. By working as one team with Rivian Service and Parts, we’re confident your experience using Rivian Insurance will be transparent and less stressful, allowing you to get back to enjoying your vehicle faster,” the company’s website says.

CEO RJ Scaringe has said the company wants to make the ownership experience easy, low-stress and connected. Rivian recently announced that it will assign “Guides” to each customer who will be available via phone or email to answer questions for the entire length of their ownership experience.