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Envest moves into drone orbit

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Insurtech investor Envest has taken a strategic 20% stake in Precision Autonomy, a Texas-based specialist in building real-time pricing platforms that set the premiums for underwriting drones and autonomous vehicles.

The amount invested is confidential, MD Greg Mullins says.

He says the move will give Envest an immediate entry into a market that is set to grow rapidly in the future.

“I think investing in this space is like investing in cyberspace,” Mr Mullins told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“It’s just going to become bigger and bigger and we feel that to protect our future we [have] got to be investing in stuff like this that is going to become more and more prominent.

“Drones [are] where we are starting, but really it’s for the next wave of driverless cars, buses and all that sort of thing.”

Precision Autonomy takes a data-driven, algorithm-based approach in developing its risk pricing platforms. Each policy is pay-per-minute, pay-per-cover and priced according to factors that play out in real time.

“What makes it special and why we are excited about it is that we have some really clever developers,” Mr Mullins said.

“The platform does dynamic pricing. The price of the insurance changes based on the weather conditions of the day or who the pilot is based on his track record.”

The offering is already available in Australia and the US. It will be introduced into Asia next, a region he says has “terrific opportunities”.

Mr Mullins says this year has been “very active” for Envest, with several investments made in promising ventures. Envest typically takes up holdings of 20-50%.

It currently has 13 shareholders who are mostly from the insurance industry, Mr Mullins says.

The stake in Precision Autonomy takes to 25 the number of businesses Envest has invested in. They include Aviso Group, Blue Zebra and Allstate Underwriting.