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Suncorp invests in vehicle sharing company

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Suncorp has participated in a $10 million funding round for sharing-economy company Car Next Door as it seeks to better understand changing vehicle use.

The insurer, Australia’s largest motor and compulsory third-party underwriter, has made an initial investment of $1.5 million and will have a board observer seat.

“We know the traditional way Australians own and use cars is evolving and this partnership will allow us to learn and better service our customer needs,” Insurance CEO Gary Dransfield said.

Car Next Door, which started with 20 cars and 60 borrowers in Sydney in 2013, allows vehicle owners to earn money by renting them out. More than 3000 cars have been shared through the platform.

Suncorp says the partnership will include the development of innovative insurance products and joint promotional activity.

“We can support Car Next Door’s members with insurance, and we can also introduce our customers to a new way to safely and easily rent out their cars in their own neighbourhoods,” Mr Dransfield said.

Suncorp Group CEO Steve Johnston said today that embedding digital and data in product design and distribution remains a key area of focus.

“This has most recently been demonstrated as we internally pilot ‘Bingle Go’ a market-first insurance product designed specifically for customers who rely on more than their car for their everyday commute,” he said.

Mr Johnston also told a UBS Investor Conference that the reinsurance team was continuing to review options ahead of a number of multi-year programs expiring at the end of June.

“Based on discussions with the reinsurers we remain confident there will be strong demand for Suncorp’s program,” he said.

Falls in interest rates over the course of the year will have an impact on investment income and the present value of claims, he told the investor briefing.