The barrier to telematics

Toby MacLachlan, 10 December 2015

Ignite has been used for a few telematics projects to date: Policywise, Girls Drive Better, Marmalade, eDrive, to name a few.  All exciting propositions and each with a very different market segment. 

Telematics should be taking the insurance industry by storm.  So why isn’t it?  There are roughly 350,000 live policies out there, depending on who you listen to.  That sounds like a lot, but with major insurers like Aviva, LV and Markerstudy, and major brokers like Admiral, Hastings, and More Than all having been playing in this space for 5 years or so (some less than that), why does telematics barely cover 1% of the market? 

Some people will tell you it is because of the big brother effect – people don’t like to be watched. This isn’t true: people are happy to have their driving monitored if it saves them money.  It’s not as though the black box is reading your private mail or looking through your keyhole at night. Insurance is highly price sensitive so if you’re the cheapest you’ll likely get bought: black box or not. 

So what is the barrier to telematics?  Answer: Big data.  There are very few people in the insurance industry who even know what big data is.  Do you?  

Proper analysis of the big data that comes from driving millions of miles assesses whether the drivers you insure are more or less likely to crash, with probabilities worked out statistically not anecdotally.  

Until some serious data scientists attack the data coming from telematics (most of which is stored in summary form and therefore near on useless) underwriters will continue to get burned and telematics will never really take off. 

By the way – Ignite works with data scientists so if anyone is interested in knowing what their driving data really means…

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