Cathie Anderson

This insurer’s NorCal customers can opt for Lyft instead of rental

CSAA Insurance Group is giving Northern California policyholders the option of riding with Lyft rather than renting a car if they file a claim and their drivable vehicles have to go into the shop for repairs. In this pilot program, the insured motorist would get a Lyft credit worth $200.

“We are targeting lower-complexity claims (in the pilot), so drivable vehicles...are typically not in the shop for very long,” said Brian Gaab, CSAA’s strategy and development leader. “This alternative is really meant for customers who may not need a car all the time. It’s not for the soccer mom who has to get her kids back and forth to practice and do lots of different things. It’s for a lot of folks who use their car to get back and forth to a train station…or for shorter-term transportation needs.”

CSAA, an insurer in the AAA network, began testing the Lyft option at the end of January, Gaab said, and the customer feedback so far has been positive. Many people are surprised that an insurer would offer it, he said, but CSAA has a new strategy and innovation team that is looking at ways to evaluate new opportunities in the insurance business.

Asked whether the use of Lyft would cut costs for CSAA, Gaab said the insurer decided to offer a voucher amount that will likely result in neutral impact on the bottom line. The company will review results from the pilot before deciding whether to expand the service to other customers in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

“The majority of our policyholders will call us in the event that they are in an accident, and at that time, one of the pieces we establish is whether the vehicle is drivable or not,” Gaab said. “We will either set up a rental for the customer, or in this case, we could provide the customer with Lyft credits. In the case of Lyft, what they’ll get is a code that they will put into their Lyft app.”

If they have money left over after their car is out of the shop and they want to use that for the remaining 45-day period, they’re welcome to do that, Gaab said.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee