In conversation with Alejandro Ortega Peniche, TaaS Insurance Services Lead and would-be science fiction novelist…
How long have you been working at Volta Trucks? What was your first impression?
I started 10 months ago, in May 2022. I was initially (and still am) impressed by the willingness to help of everyone I’ve interacted with so far. I immediately thought “it’s going to be good fun working here”. And it is (most of the time).
What were your first six months like?
Having spent 11 years working for an insurance group before joining Volta Trucks, I thought I knew the industry. My first 6 months were a realisation of how wrong I was. Seen from the inside, an insurance company can feel like a huge, sophisticated world. Seen from the outside, however, an insurance company looks like just a small dot in a vast universe of players focusing on different stages of the value chain: brokers who only sell, brokers who sell and price, tech companies measuring risk in all sorts of ways, safety hardware providers, safety software providers, claims administrators, risk advisors, insurers, reinsurers, it goes on. From this new perspective, the possibilities seem endless.
What has been the biggest change you’ve witnessed during your time at Volta Trucks so far?
Volta Trucks is rapidly moving from a start-up, to a scale-up and now to an established OEM. This means we see change happening every day, which is natural and exciting. But I’ve been witnessing something even more fascinating, and that’s consistency. Since the moment I had my first interview with Volta Trucks until now, the high-level plan and priorities of the company have remained unchanged. There have been challenges, of course, but I feel that since I joined, we haven’t stopped continuously moving towards our goals.
With rising costs across the sector, what can fleets do to help lower their risk profile and associated
This is an easy one: transition their fleets to the safest electric truck on the market. Enhanced safety means less accidents, which can be costly due to repairs costs, downtime and insurance deductibles that go up to 10k€ per accident. Enhanced safety also means a better working environment for drivers who are less likely to be involved in an unwanted event and more likely to stick around.
What global trends do you anticipate will have a significant impact on fleet insurance over the next decade?
Definitely UBI (usage-based insurance). This is also known as “telematic insurance”. The idea is to use driving data generated by the vehicles in order to understand accurately and in real time the level of risk. This can then be used as a parameter in insurance pricing models. The less ‘risky’ the driving is, the lower the probabilities of an accident for which the insurance company would need to indemnify. Progressive, one of the largest auto insurers in the US, has managed to offer discounts of up to 45% to drivers with UBI.
What trends do you expect to see from the data collected in the Volta Zero?
We have designed and built a truck to increase safety for vulnerable road users in city centres. After a few months of Volta Zero’s being on the roads, I believe we’ll start seeing clear evidence of this. We will be able to produce statistics to show the world the real impact of our organization and
products, and, best of all, use such statistics to negotiate better insurance rates for our customers.
You mentioned usage-based insurance (UBI) as a global trend, how does this apply to Volta Trucks?
I believe we can use insurance in a smart way to help further enhance safety and prevent accidents. This is where UBI comes into play. It is a key element of our insurance strategy to develop a driving score, make it available to Volta Zero users and use it to adjust insurance costs dynamically. But we want to take this one step further and generate perks for drivers such as cash backs (sharing part of the savings), concrete tips to improve, digital challenges and awards, etc. delivered to them via the Volta Zero itself or a Volta app for drivers. Only drivers can truly make trucks in city centres safer, and we want to equip them with the tools they need to do so and reward them for their progress.
Moreover, we can apply the concept of dynamic pricing based on a driving score to other areas. If
our driving score is smart enough to tell us if drivers are taking good care of the trucks, we can think of using it to apply dynamic pricing to Maintenance & Service (M&S) and leasing contracts too.
In theory, we could use the following formulas to make pricing dynamic:
● Insurance: Safer driving = less accidents = lower insurance premiums
● Enhanced truck care = reduced wear & tear = lower M&S fee
● Leasing: less accidents and reduced wear & tear = higher residual value = lower leasing cost
And since the ultimate aim of our Truck as a Service (TaaS) offer is to bundle a wide range of services into a single contract with a unique fee, all this could be boiled down to one simple formula:
● Better driving score = increased safety & truck care = lower TaaS fee
What first led you to a career in fleet motor insurance?
I don’t think there is a better place to develop a career in fleet motor insurance than within a new
company developing an all-electric vehicle focused on improving safety. When I first heard the
description of the role, I couldn’t believe such thing existed.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt in your career to date?
One day I was complaining to my first manager about all the things that were not working well. His simple answer was: “think of solutions, not of problems”.
If you weren’t working in fleet motor insurance, what would your dream job be?
This is not an easy one: I would probably be writing science fiction in the mornings and grilling steaks in the afternoons.
What does the future hold, where do you see yourself within Volta Trucks in the next year?
Developing the best insurance offer for electric truck fleets will probably require more than a year, so I plan to be on track to get there.
What gets you up on a Monday morning?
Joaquin (6) and Olivia (2) but I try to wake up before them so I can breathe.
What do you do to recharge?
I like to run randomly. That’s how I’ve discovered some of the nicest places I know around Paris, like the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial which is an amazing monument hidden in the middle of a small forest (or big park) in the south-west of Paris.