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AI, Voice and Solar Combine to Change the Game in Telematics Insurance Mike Brockman, CEO, ThingCo

AI, Voice and Solar Combine to Change the Game in Telematics Insurance

Mike Brockman, CEO, ThingCo

Most people think of insurance telematics as a black box fitted underneath the bonnet of the car that records driving behaviour. The insurance provider then uses this data to calculate the customer’s premium. The insurance industry has found it difficult to make telematics work economically across all sectors of the driving population, largely because the technology has been given away free and the risk benefit in terms of lower insurance claims, to outweigh the cost is difficult to achieve.

There is a belief that people just don’t want telematics. I proved that wrong at Insure The Box, the first telematics insurance firm I founded in 2009. We sold 800,000 policies during my time with the business.

Introducing next generation telematics

Technology has developed fast and now offers insurers a way to make their telematics propositions simple, transparent and engaging, to provide consumers with tangible added-value.

Machine learning, AI, intelligent voice – even solar power can all work together to offer greater efficiencies and a better customer experience based on real-time driving data. There is no longer a need to build and host huge data platforms when cloud platforms enable scalable data management.

By exploiting these advances in technology, insurers can get asset value from telematics i.e. extract greater economic value from the technology than its cost. That means using the data to mitigate risk, manage claims effectively and lower costs and ultimately give customers a better insurance experience.

Making the telematics data collection device desirable

It starts with making the data collection device itself desirable so that consumers value it in its own right. If the device looks sleek and techy like other connected consumer products, does what it promises (accurate data, collision detection, voice support, smart First Notification of Loss (FNOL), engagement) to make driving safer and claims less of a pain for the customer and the insurer you are already offering more and bringing costs down.

Consumers have been buying dashcams in their droves so there’s clearly an opportunity to provide a device that actually gives them benefits over and above cheaper insurance.

Solar so good

Using solar powered devices means there is no direct connection to the car, so it is easy for the customer to fit themselves and this helps to position the device itself as a real premium product.

But ultimately, telematics has to deliver in lower claims. Consumers need to be incentivised to drive safely and the data should be used to drive the FNOL process to help cut fraud, speed claims handling and deliver a great customer journey.




Intelligent Voice support in an road accident

Intelligent Voice can also transform the FNOL process, providing immediate support when it’s most needed. All this means insurance risk can greatly be reduced real-time creating a safe but miles-based product for the customer.

Bringing these elements together in one package not only makes it more interesting, it allows insurers to demonstrate how they are making the data work for the customer – they can talk about the collision response, the claims process, offer incentives for safer driving. It’s all about making consumers feel empowered.

This has been our mission at ThingCo. It started with designing and manufacturing a telematics device called Theo, that sticks discreetly to the windscreen of the car and and in the vast majority of cases will never need to be recharged.

Second by second driving data

Theo collects driving data every second of every trip and uses AI and Voice to talk to the driver in a collision to expedite support. This means real-time driving data can now be used by insurance providers in pricing, renewals, claims and to power additional services for the customer, such as emergency support in an accident.

Theo is now being rolled out to drivers through a growing number of insurers and brokers. In each case, as a new customer signs up for a policy, the device is sent in the post with clear fitting instructions. Once installed it begins collecting driving data for delivery back to the insurance provider and to the customer in the form of driving scores, via a white-labelled app.

Accurate driver scoring

Driving data is ‘scored’ based on a wide range of factors known to correlate to risk, such as speed relative to real-time speed limits, miles incurred, driving patterns, aggressive acceleration or braking. These driving risk scores are used alongside traditional rating factors when insurance providers price risk on renewal or to provide mid-term premium adjustments. They can also be used for reward programmes that incentive drivers to drive better.

Speed detection

The granularity of the driving data not only means the risk scores are highly accurate for pricing but can also tell an insurance provider when immediate action needs to be taken to mitigate risk. For example, it is only by using second by second data that you can know with confidence that a customer is speeding. This confidence is crucially important to insurance providers who may have the right to cancel the policy if the customer constantly and/or excessively breaks the speed limit.

The ability to collect second by second driving data, and even more granular in a crash situation, means it is possible to understand the moment of impact in a collision and the force of that collision.

Data Processing Power with AWS IoT

Data processing power is key. Next generation telematics needs huge data processing power at low cost. In one of the first examples of the power of Amazon Web Services, we designed a completely serverless solution using AWS IoT to efficiently process thousands of data points a second in real-time.

The power of this capability is not just in pricing. Insurance providers need to know exactly when, where and how their customer has been involved in an accident to offer immediate help and to expedite the claim.

Crash Alert

In an accident a crash alert kicks in and activates a voice command using Amazon Lex and Amazon Connect in the device. The real time interaction with the customer using the device’s inbuilt microphone and speakers means they can immediately confirm or deny the accident, reducing false alerts, putting insurers in much greater control.

The technology makes it possible to identify exactly what has happened, establish if anyone is injured and need emergency services or need other services such as a hire car to get them home.

This type of response transforms the claims process for the customer and the insurance provider. It gives the insurance provider a whole range of detail – like a liability assessment, fault, g-force etc. which helps cut the claims investigation time, avoid lengthy disputes with third parties and helps stamp out fraud.

Making motor insurance a valued service

Ultimately our solution enables the insurer/broker to offer the best customers the best deal at renewal. This all fits perfectly within the framework of the new FCA Dual pricing rules.

With the ability to help manage risk, improve the claims journey, provide fairer premiums, the next generation of telematics could turn the motor insurance grudge purchase into something consumers really start to value.


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