Insurance telematics: A fleeting opportunity

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In the ongoing quest to tackle unsatisfactory loss ratios, many insurers have now reached a turning point in commercial lines coverage and are beginning to consider the opportunities for innovative policies aimed at vehicles with ADAS features such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure warning (LDW).

Proactive risk management

According to Andrew Brown-Allan, managing director at TrakLabs Innovation Hub, it is likely that ADAS features, particular AEB, are “already impacting on the frequency of low-speed collisions” for those fleets that have made a concerted effort to select vehicles that are appropriately equipped.  At the same time, he points out that fleet insurance premiums are coming under significant pressure, so stresses that there is still work to do on both sides of the equation to make these new technologies deliver the maximum commercial benefit.

“Drawing reference from what’s happened in personal lines motor, fleet insurers and operators should look to a future where fleet driver risk can be proactively risk-managed using telemetry data transmitted by the vehicles’ onboard sensors,” he says.

“Activation frequency of functions such as AEB and LDW could be determined as a measure of driver distraction and over-reliance on a vehicle’s accident-avoidance capabilities, thereby enabling interventions to be made at fleet [or] driver level in the interest of accident and claims prevention.”

Role of video

Again, referencing UBI where aftermarket telematics technologies are deployed to higher-risk young drivers, Brown-Allan reveals there is currently widespread use of black box data to establish liability in the event of a claim, or to identify potential cases of fraudulent claims. “As an example, the ability to repudiate a third-party claim by accurately placing a fleet vehicle away from the location of an alleged collision can lead to substantial savings where many operators may ordinarily adopt a policy of settlement prior to claim,” he says.

While accepting that motor accidents are an inevitable part of life, a spokesperson at Aviva argues that, over the next few years, continued advances in collision mitigation and avoidance technologies have the potential to significantly reduce both the frequency and severity of such collisions. In the spokesperson’s view, the overwhelming majority of accidents remain straightforward events, where the facts are clear and the parties all agree on liability.

“Where liability is contested, insurers are keen to get to the facts so a fast and fair resolution of the resultant claims can begin.  In these disputed cases the availability of video footage [via] dashcams or telematics data can, on occasions, provide much needed evidence to assist in deciding on who was at fault,” says the spokesperson. “This is helpful in that it avoids long, drawn out disputes, which can even end up before a court. With dashcam footage, the adage a picture is worth a thousand words seems particularly apt.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for CCC Information Services explains that video is currently more of a social science that offers an interpretation of events and telematics is a science which delivers facts.  The company believes that video can be helpful in extreme cases of fraud but warn that it will likely take a long time for video to become ubiquitous.

“The courts will have to do a lot of work to help determine when and how video gets used, for example.  That said, video has some great potential as a fraud deterrent, helping in the early part of the claims process … and in identifying fault,” says the spokesperson.

“Telematics can give you the facts about the factors leading up to the accident … as well as the actual G-force of the accident, offering greater precision, which is ideal in a claims scenario.  Beyond liability, telematics holds tremendous power in delivering value-added services at first notice of loss, including near-immediate repair versus replace decisions, vehicle routing based on these decisions, injury triage, and the initiation of emergency services.”

Retrospective analysis

Ultimately, Brown-Allan predicts that telematics technology presents real opportunity pre-litigation and points out that, where the telematics hardware is of a sufficiently high quality, it is possible to retrospectively look back at collision data to establish whether or not the circumstances of the incident, such as speed at moment of impact, orientation of impact and level of G-force imparted on vehicle occupants, was likely to cause bodily injury.

“In the instances where the telematics data contradicts the nature of the claim, on presentation of this information to the third-party’s legal representation, it is not unusual for these cases to be closed down very quickly with no further consequence,” he adds.


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