Elon Musk’s insurance plans could be a difference-maker for Tesla’s brand

During Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call, Elon Musk noted that the company would be offering a “compelling insurance product” for its vehicles. Musk even provided an estimated timeframe for the service’s launch, stating that Tesla’s insurance would be rolled out within a month.

While the idea of an in-house insurance program might seem like an unnecessary distraction for the electric car maker at this point, the service could very well become a critical factor in Tesla’s pursuit of sustained profitability. This is according to Eddie Yoon, a director at The Cambridge Group, a firm that specializes in growth strategy. According to Yoon, a well-rounded, properly-released insurance program could help make Tesla into one of the industry’s most influential brands.

In an article on the Harvard Business Review, Yoon notes that companies which become multi-billion-dollar mega-brands usually meet several critical success factors. The first of these involves picking the right first adjacency to enter. Since breaching an untried market is difficult, companies that succeed generally go for an adjacency that has a similar go-to-market model, or at least one where a strong partner could be leveraged. Tesla appears to be doing the latter by partnering with Markel to provide insurance to its customers.

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The first adjacency must also have attractive economics that could be measured, among other things, by how it could improve the company’s core business. This is pertinent for Tesla, since the company’s vehicles are generally cheaper to run than an internal combustion car. If Tesla can reduce the price of its vehicles’ insurance through its own service, the company could make the idea of owning an electric car more attractive and practical to a wider spectrum of customers.

Coupled with Tesla’s continued optimizations in the production of its vehicles, a solid, reasonable insurance program could result in more electric car sales for the company. This, of course, gives Tesla a better chance at becoming profitable in the long-term.

If Tesla proves successful in rolling out its auto insurance service, the company could potentially expand the program to other areas of its business. Tesla is currently aiming to ramp its Energy business, with Elon Musk dubbing 2019 as the “Year of the Solar Roof and Powerwall.” Musk has also hinted at a “Tesla smart home” in the past. Perhaps these products could pave the way for a Tesla home insurance program in the future? Such a possibility is not too farfetched.

These ideas and initiatives could seem drastic in light of Tesla’s business today, but Yoon noted that other mega-brands are adopting similar strategies. Gerber baby foods, for example, generated $900 million in life insurance premiums in 2017. That’s equal to about 75% of its core baby food business during the year. With this in mind, it appears that Elon Musk’s idea for Tesla’s insurance service not be too farfetched at all.

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