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Telematics shows insurance can get ahead of the digital curve

September 2, 2020

By Ryan McMahon

Originally published in Digital Insurance, 9/1/2020.

The pandemic continues to alter the way many industries and sectors operate. The insurance industry in particular is one that has seen many shifts in the past several months. The quick actions we’ve seen from insurers as of late is largely due to the investments the industry has made in technology that has enabled them to respond quickly to changes in our physical world. Mobile telematics is among these technologies, which has been trialed and scaled over the years to become a key part of several insurers competitive advantage. At the same time, we have seen a rapid rise in consumer interest in telematics based insurance policies as highlighted by a recent J.D. Power & Associates report, highlighting the increasing consumer appetite for telematics-based programs.

The insurers who had already adopted digital technologies like usage-based insurance policies powered by telematics were able to rapidly identify changes in policyholders’ driving behavior, and consumers are benefiting with lower premiums as a result. A recent New York Times story chronicled the consumer benefit yielded by telematics in enabling insurers to base a driver’s price on their own behavior, allowing the industry to provide substantial discounts to consumers. Enabling consumer choice is especially critical during challenging economic times, as a result insurers with telematics powered insurance programs are able to respond to consumer needs much faster than those without.

The benefits of leveraging digital technology in insurance extends far beyond understanding how to price a premium. Using telematics, insurers are provided insights that tell a detailed story around good driving behavior versus risky driving behavior. From these insights, insurers are able to provide real-time feedback and reward safe behavior while cautioning a driver of risky behavior. The real-time feedback can also offer immediate support to mitigate losses, providing more protection to policyholders and reducing the amount of time it takes to settle a claim or dispute between policyholders.

In any situation, immediate feedback is invaluable as it can sound the alarm when something isn’t right. When it comes to developing products to manage risk in insurance, the ease, efficiency and accuracy of digital technology is transforming the ways insurers approach this crucial piece of the claims process. Identifying risk sets the foundation for pricing policies, financial loss and product development. Without the proper tools to assess and quantify the likelihood of a risky event, the product development process could be compromised, resulting in financial loss and hinder customer success.

This technology is a true win-win for all involved, even those that don’t have a telematics based auto policy. The Federal Highway Administration recently published success stories of strategies that further the goal of achieving zero roadway deaths. One of those strategies included the use of telematics technology in action with Boston’s Safest Driver. This program used the same approach that many insurers utilize when assessing risk via a mobile app and providing feedback and incentives to improve. Insurers armed with these programs are able to use these same strategies to improve profitability and road safety.

In some respects, the insurance industry has been the early adopter of many forms of technology. Most of that has been designed behind the scenes to help improve efficiency and enable the insurer to be as competitive as possible. The current pandemic has changed a tremendous amount of business processes and, with that, consumer-facing technology has become much more important to the industry. Those insurers that continue to invest in digital innovation will be preparing themselves for the ever changing and unpredictable landscape. Ultimately, their customers and competitive position will benefit from that approach.