Connected car insurance startup Flock raises $17M Series A led by Chamath Palihapitiya

Cast your mind back to that scene in “Minority Report” where all those autonomous cars are whizzing through the city. The more practically minded of you may well have gone: “Yeah, but what about the insurance?”

Among the startups building the on-demand, connected insurance world for the vehicles of tomorrow right now are U.K.-based Zego, which has raised $201.7 million. Another is Flock.

Emerging from an academic project to look at drones, Flock shifted into providing drone insurance, then commercial vehicle insurance. The twist is that it hooks into the telematics of cars so that the vehicle only triggers insurance cover when it’s actually moving, not when it’s sitting on the lot, incapable of causing any accidents.

Flock has now raised $17 million in a Series A funding led by Social Capital, the investment vehicle run by Chamath Palihapitiya, best known as a SPAC investor and chairman of Virgin Galactic. Flock’s existing investors Anthemis and Dig Ventures also participated. This round brings Flock’s total funding to $22 million. Justin Saslaw (Social Capital’s fintech partner) joins Flock’s board of directors, as does Ross Mason (founder of Dig Ventures and MuleSoft).

“Transportation is changing faster than ever, but the traditional insurance industry can’t keep up,” Ed Leon Klinger, CEO of Flock, said. “The proliferation of electric cars, new business models such as ridesharing, and the emergence of autonomous vehicles pose huge challenges that traditional insurers just aren’t equipped for.”

“Modern fleets need an equally modern insurance company that moves as fast as they do,” he added. “Commercial motor insurance is a $160 billion market, crying out for disruption. The opportunity ahead of us is enormous.”

“Flock is bridging the gap between today’s insurance industry and tomorrow’s transportation realities,” Palihapitiya said in a statement. “By using real-time data to truly understand vehicle risk, Flock is meeting the demands of our rapidly evolving, hyper-connected world. Flock has the potential to help unlock and enable a truly autonomous world, and even save lives. We’re excited to be a part of their journey.”

Speaking to TechCrunch over a call, Klinger outlined how the company hit a sweet spot by hooking into telematics APIs for cars, or by doing special integrations with existing providers and OEMs.

“We’ve built our own integrated approach whereby we partner with some and we build bespoke integrations with them,” he said. “Often they are not as advanced as others. So we’ll either use our integration platform or we’ll use their approach. We’re highly flexible. The core value proposition at Flock is its flexibility, so we don’t force our own integration approach.”