“Change comes fast,” as the saying goes. When we began the year, it was business as usual for the Connected Car team at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. We were talking about how automakers and insurance carriers could come together to improve the experience of automobile ownership for consumers. Now, we’re seeing a change in how we all continue to work together. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the ways in which we live our daily lives. We are first and foremost hopeful that our employees, our customers and their customers remain safe and healthy. We also want you to know that we are here to help you succeed by sharing updated data and trends about driving behavior that can help you navigate this new journey.

A shift in driving behavior

As people in cities and counties across the country continue to stay home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, traffic on roads has seen a decline. In many large cities, the traditional “rush hour” seemed to have all but disappeared.

We looked at some data from across our telematics programs and are seeing some interesting trends in some areas of the country. Noticeable changes in traffic volumes began around the week of March 15, which corresponds to the timeframe when many states and localities began closing schools and implementing social distancing recommendations, including asking people to work at home. Comparing driving data to what we observed in February, in the past week, we’ve seen*:

  • 33% fewer drivers on the roads
  • 41% fewer trips taken
  • 46% fewer miles driven

When comparing to data from February, trends suggest these percentages are beginning to flatten and stabilize. Drivers are also skipping their normal leisure trips (no more “Sunday drives”). Interestingly, mileage per trip hasn’t dropped substantially. This could be attributed to some essential workers still going to work and keeping somewhat normal routines or that people are going to the same place, just less often. 

The reduction in leisure trips appears to carry over to evening hours – post “rush hour” – as well. According to our data, the hours between 8:00 pm and 12:00 am are seeing a 53% reduction in mileage, compared to a 41% reduction between the hours of 10:00 am and 8:00 pm.* This could be explained by people making essential work and grocery runs during the day, and reducing dining out or seeing friends during the evening hours.

Changes may become the norm

Working from home may become a new reality for many businesses post-coronavirus shutdowns. We believe we’re going to see changes in where people drive cars, perhaps permanently. As job recovery improves, which we hope happens quickly, and working from home becomes more prevalent, we believe it will result in changes to how automakers and insurers use data in their daily business operations.

For insurers, consumers may be looking to change their auto coverage based on their new driving habits and behaviors. This may see a rise in requests for usage-based insurance and pay-per-mile insurance, as discussed in this recent Forbes article.

The coming weeks will reveal to all of us how businesses may experience a paradigm shift in the way they operate. We will be monitoring how these changes affect auto insurers and will update you with data and high-level trends we are seeing and how it impacts the market and your business.

*Based on available data through April 24, 2020