The Power of Positivity: a Q&A With Onlia’s Fernand Vartanian

Fernand Vartanian of Ontario-based Onlia on how insurance companies can advocate for safer roads with positive reinforcement instead of penalties

What’s new in the world of insurance?

Over the last few years, drivers in Ontario have been eligible for discounts or incentives based on safe driving behaviour. Recent regulatory changes mean that now some providers of pay-as-you-drive policies could increase a customer’s premium if the tracking in these programs reveal risk to the provider. Behaviour like speeding, distracted driving, quick braking, and acceleration could come with a price tag.

At Onlia, we believe in motivation over discouragement, and rewards over penalties. Our telematics-based app, Onlia Sense™, enables us to give cash back to our customers for safe driving, encouraging positive road usage. For our customers, a personal drive score determines the share of reward received, with the opportunity to increase rewards with continued and consistent use of Onlia Sense over time. 

But data tracked in the app is not tied to a customer’s premium, and won’t impact prices. Not all providers follow this philosophy, and some drivers who opt for a pay-as-you-drive may see an increase in what they pay if they take too many risks.  

What’s different about Onlia in relation to other insurance providers?

Onlia rewards safety. Depending on where a person is on their Onlia journey, our simple rewards system encourages loyalty through positive reinforcement. Our rewards include discounts for being safe, like more than $500 annually on your auto insurance policy, including a 10% conviction-free discount, 10% graduated licensing discount, 2% winter tire discount and more. You can get extra cash back in your wallet of up to $40/monthly or $480 a year for driving safely with Onlia Sense.

Can you explain the concept of “behavioural economics” and how it plays into Onlia’s model?

We take a prevention-first approach to insurance, grounded in principles of behavioural economics. Research in behavioural psychology tells us that consistently acknowledging positive behaviour is an effective way to change action. 

But we know change doesn’t happen overnight, so Onlia’s built tools and resources that help put Canadians on the path to become safer drivers and homeowners over time. 

How has the pandemic impacted the insurance industry?

In April 2020, regulatory changes made it possible for insurance companies to provide vital relief to their customers. Onlia was happy to be able to give a month of free premium to its customers, which helped alleviate the financial impact of the pandemic, affording immediate savings at a time when Canadians needed it most.

Why should corporations embrace the inclusion of home and auto insurance as part of group benefits?

Car accidents are the leading cause of traumatic injury and death in North America. In Canada, there are almost 3,000 fatalities caused by motor vehicle incidents each year, not to mention thousands of physical injuries. Lost productivity on the job is immeasurable and causes higher insurance benefit premiums on a traditional health and wellness program.

With an understanding of how auto-related accidents affect overall wellness at the employer group insurance level, Onlia’s insurance program puts a focus on prevention. We work with group benefits providers to customize discounts and help educate staff on how to be safer on the road. Safe drivers mean less road incidents, which is great for an employers’ bottom line, and the lives of their employees.