Weekly Brief: All the news from Insurance Telematics USA 2014

Weekly Brief: All the news from Insurance Telematics USA 2014

In this week’s Brief: Insurance Telematics USA 2014, Towers Watson, Agero, Progressive, Zubie, Cellcontrol, Modus, Bell, Octo Telematics, insurethebox, Agnik, Harman, U.S. Department of Transportation, Garmin and AutoTrader.com.

More than 800 dedicated usage-based-insurance (UBI) specialists descended on Chicago for Insurance Telematics USA 2014, an annual forum that has grown from a moderate gathering to a blow-out conference in the past four years — in lockstep with the growth of UBI itself. On the first day of the conference, keynote speaker Robin Harbage of Towers Watson encouraged the audience to keep pushing the frontier of UBI forward, in particular focusing on more granular data that moves beyond the obvious data points (hard braking, swerving, speeding, etc.) and opens up a realm of more complex and accurate rating factors.

“Real time is the future,” said Harbage.

Speaking of real time, attendees took advantage of the exhibition floor to break news on the insurance telematics front.

Agero unveiled its new mobile UBI platform, which provides UBI predictive analytics that use mobile device sensors on smartphones to track driver behavior in real time. The platform also features Auto Crash Notification (ACN), which determines the severity of impact in an incident and automatically notifies emergency services within moments of an accident occurring. The mobile platform is available now as part of Agero’s suite of insurance products and offerings.

Progressive announced a new collaboration with Zubie, a plug-in key that inserts into the on-board diagnostic port and provides feedback directly to a driver’s Android or iPhone device, helping to fuel safer, smarter driving. Through the partnership with Progressive, Zubie customers can elect to share their driver data with Progressive in order to earn a discount on auto insurance through Progressive’s Snapshot program. This marks the first U.S. partnership for an insurer offering a safe driving discount from data collected by a third-party connected car service provider.

Cellcontrol debuted its second-generation distracted driving platform, DriveID. The platform limits smartphone use in a vehicle by preventing texting, emailing and other inappropriate mobile device use while driving. It also leverages a smartphone’s functionality, tracking data from the phone to support driver behavior monitoring and location based services. Modus announced that it has integrated DriveID into its latest UBI solution offering.

Modus also announced a new partnership with Bell, Canada’s largest communications company, to be the exclusive carrier in Canada to bring the Modus Go solution to insurance providers and their customers. Modus Go tracks driver behaviors like speed, acceleration, braking and GPS mapping in real time and provides detailed driver assessments to improve safety and increase understanding of drivers’ habits and skills. Bell will provide insurers with the connectivity and media network to gather and deliver data to drivers in every province.

Octo Telematics extended its partnership for another two years with insurethebox, one of the leading providers of UBI in the U.K. Octo will continue to supply the “black box” telematics technology fitted to each insurethebox customer’s vehicle. To date, more than 300,000 Octo black boxes have been fitted to vehicles driven by insurethebox customers since the partnership began with Octo in 2010.

Agnik and Harman meanwhile announced that they have secured a contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop advanced gamification products to be integrated into UBI offerings. The idea is to further incentivize good, smart, safe driving through social incentives and game theory, but with a rigorous mathematical backbone. Several leading insurance carriers will support the program, though no word yet on who they will be.

Elsewhere, Garmin pulled the cloak off its new 2014 nüvi Advanced Series of personal navigation devices. The line offers some fancy new integration with social app Foursquare, which helps users explore new and popular restaurants and stores. It also includes a Direct Access feature that makes it easier to find specific indoor locations inside complex destinations like malls and airports. Suggested retail prices range from $199.99 to $349.99.

Finally, who says old timers aren’t interested in in-car connectivity? AutoTrader published a study suggesting that 62 percent of Baby Boomers (aged 48-66) believe technology is an important consideration when shopping for a new car, compared to 61 percent of Millennials (15-32). AutoTrader says that older drivers are especially interested in features like backup cameras, keyless entry, push-button start, power lift gate and an infotainment system that’s easy to use.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Asif Naqvi is a regular TU contributor.

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