The use of telematics in car insurance isn’t new. For the past few years, more and more drivers have been signing up to have little black boxes installed in their cars that monitor their driving behavior, as insurance companies offer incentives such as lower premiums and discounted rates for safe drivers.
By allowing insurers to track their driving behaviors – including average speed, braking force and distance driven – drivers are able to negotiate lower premiums and other benefits, which many view as a fairer and less discriminatory way of assessing risk.
From a commercial point of view, if we can promote and encourage safer driving on the road then the number of crashes will come down, and the cost to the insurance industry will reduce accordingly – and those savings will be passed on to the public.
Premiums for 17-year-olds with telematics boxes are half what they were four years ago overall, and statistics suggest accident rates within this age bracket are also coming down. Technology, and technology-enabled propositions, have really reduced claims costs, especially for young drivers.
"Black box insurance" has other benefits, too. Many insurers also offer free anti-theft tracking and roadside assistance through the device, and so far RSA has a 100% return rate on stolen vehicles that have a telematics device fitted.
Enter the era of the smart home
With the benefits of telematics so clearly proven within the automotive industry, insurers are now turning their focus to the residential realm – in a bid to create "smart homes" that are intuitive and responsive to internal and external risks.
For many homeowners, the ability to control their climate, lighting and entertainment devices is one of the main attractions when it comes to home telematics, whereas insurers are drawn to the security benefits offered.
Luckily, telematics-based home insurance offers both parties the best of both worlds – convenience and risk mitigation, all in one handy tech-savvy package.
Smart home = smarter home insurance?
Just as black boxes in cars reward safe driving behaviors with lower premiums and discounts, smart home owners could reap the benefits of a connected abode. From discounts for locking the door and setting the alarm, to a fairer, up-to-date assessment based on moisture, flooding or carbon monoxide monitoring, home telematics can give consumers more control over their insurance rates and premiums, as well as a more in-depth understanding of their utilities usage, environmental risks and overall home security.
In fact, smart home technology-based insurance has the potential to improve on existing discounts or lower premiums for features like security systems – simply by ensuring that these features are regularly used.
With people buying smart switches and systems, insurers are looking initially for propositions that help reduce the impact, even eliminate, some claims around water, theft and fire.
What’s next, connected pets?
It may seem like a sci-fi fantasy, but telematics for pets is set to be the next game-changer in the insurance industry, which is no surprise given that around 2.6 million people in the U.K. have pet insurance.
Pets are seen as part of the family, and owners spend a considerable amount on maintaining their furry best friends’ health, well-being and fitness. But how do we keep an extra close eye on our four-legged friends when we don’t speak their language?
Pet telematics: Going beyond the microchipping process
It’s not as disturbing or invasive as it sounds. All it takes for pets to join the telematics generation is a small GPS device – which is clipped to a collar or inserted under the dog’s skin to record its movements and activities throughout the day.
When paired with a smartphone app, this safe, easy technique allows owners and insurers to monitor pets’ body temperatures, hormones and heart rates, with some even going as far as tracking bowel movements – and this data is collated to form a comprehensive picture of a pet’s health and lifestyle.
Pet insurance is really a well-being product – private medical insurance for cats and dogs, effectively. Pet obesity results in a lot of claims, so if pet telematics can encourage owners to have healthier, more active pets, he’s for it.
What’s in it for consumers?
The use of telematics in everyday life and activities puts consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to their insurance policies and premiums. By having access to detailed data on their driving, home security and pet care, ordinary consumers can become more aware of the risks around them, which could spur them to change or improve their behavior.
People want to be healthy and happy, and not have to deal with the aftermath of an insurance event. The common thread across telematics is that technology creates proposition that either prevent or minimize the impact of claim events.
What about privacy concerns?
While many customers may balk at the thought of having their lives monitored, a recent Deloitte survey has shown that more than half of respondents were willing to share private information for a premium discount. This shows that, although privacy concerns remain top of mind for most, a sizable incentive can override that resistance to transform consumers into adopters. See the Deloitte report here.
What’s in it for insurers?
Telematics enables insurers to create products and services that accurately reflect customers’ risk.
Perhaps that explains why telematics has become increasingly popular among consumers and insurers over the past few years. A study by ABI research estimates that global insurance telematics subscriptions could exceed 107 million in 2018, up from 5.5 million at the end of 2013. It also predicts that usage-based insurance will represent more than 100 million telematics policies and generate in excess of €50 billion in premiums globally by 2020.
Telematics can move insurers from dealing with incidents, to stopping those incidents from being as bad as they could otherwise be. Using technology lets insurers move into that prevention mitigation space.
This article originally appeared on www.rsagroup.com/the-thread.
Kenny Leitch is global telematics director for RSA, responsible for delivering the telematics strategy across all of RSA's portfolios and regions in the U.K., Ireland, Canada and Scandinavia. In the U.K., he’s also responsible for bringing new propositions to market that equip customers with the data and information they need to reduce their insurance risk (e.g. connected home).