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Progressive targeting more driver data through Uber partnership

is hoping itspartnership with Uber Technologies Inc. will give its data-collectioncapabilities a boost, as the company tries to gain greater insight into driverbehavior.

Theinsurer reached a deal to cover drivers who use Uber in Texas, as part ofa pilot program that provides insurance tailored toward so-calledtransportation network companies. The collaboration is an opportunity to developnew products and take the lead in an emerging part of the insurance business,Chairman, President and CEO Glenn Renwick said. But perhaps just asimportantly, it will supply Progressive with reams of new driving data.

"Itjust plays entirely into everything that we feel we're good at," Renwicksaid during a May 6 question-and-answer session with analysts. "Hopefully,the way this is really successful is that we know what that vehicle is doing,where it's going, route intensity, braking intensity, all sorts of things thatwe can know not only at the fleet level, but we can know at the driver level aswell."

Progressivehas poured resources into its data analytics efforts, betting that driverbehavior data will give it an edge in evaluating risks and setting prices. Thecompany already leans heavily on information collected on customers signed upfor its usage-based Snapshot product. The company has nearly 2 million policiestied to Snapshot, Renwick said, giving it a credible sample size from which todraw conclusions on various industry trends.

Theinsurer's work with Uber should now allow it to access even more information ona broader slice of the population.

"Thisis one of those opportunities that comes along relatively infrequently, andthis just seems like it had our name written all over it," Renwick said.