Weekly Brief: Insurance telematics goes mobile with new Snapshot App

In this week’s Brief: Progressive, Censio, Allstate, Japan, The ITS Connect Promotion Consortium, Toyota, Element Financial, General Electric, International Truck, IHS Automotive, TomTom, Delphi and The New York Auto Show.

As a sign that mobile apps increasingly represent the future of UBI, another insurer, this time Progressive, launched a pilot for a smartphone-based solution. Progressive has teamed up with insurance telematics software company Censio for The Snapshot mobile app.

Come mid-September, the app will be available to select U.S. customers on iOS and Android and will harness a smartphone’s built-in GPS and sensors to measure driver performance during a trip.

Studies suggest that smartphone-based UBI apps can perform as well as traditional plug-in devices so long as they meet certain criteria. Hackers have also shown that plug-in devices represent a potential vulnerability for cyber attacks.

Progressive says that it will continue to offer a physical plug-in device as an alternative to the mobile app.

Allstate meanwhile updated its Drivewise Mobile app so that drivers can earn reward points toward merchandise, gift cards and local offers (in addition to potential discounts on their premiums). Drivers earn points via challenges that encourage safe driving; for example, to drive below 80 mph or avoid hard braking for three consecutive days.

In other news, Japan has built a driver support system that communicates with moving vehicles to alert them to danger from nearby cars, pedestrians or obstructions. The government sees the system as a boon for driverless cars but is wary of potential cyber-threats, so is working with The ITS Connect Promotion Consortium to form guidelines that ensure all collected info is safe from hackers. Toyota plans to integrate compatible technology into its next-gen Hybrid Prius.

Fleet management firm Element Financial acquired General Electric’s U.S. fleet management business, making it North America’s largest fleet management provider. Element already acquired GE’s Canadian fleet business and is in the process of taking over GE’s fleet operations in Mexico, New Zealand and Australia – all for a price tag of $6.9 billion.

Truck maker International Truck has embraced over-the-air (OTA) updates in its 2017 line of vehicles. The updates will allow drivers or fleet managers to reprogram a truck’s engine control module via a secure Wi-Fi connection at the customer’s facility. This will allow for quick servicing and maintenance, from calibration updates to body control module updates.

Total worldwide automaker cost savings from OTA software updates will hit $2.7 billion in 2015, according to a new report from IHS Automotive. That’s primarily from savings related to updating telematics systems. The number is projected to grow to more than $35 billion by 2022 with telematics and infotainment system updates comprising most of the savings.

TomTom unveiled Trucker 5000, a personal navigation device for the European market that includes customised routes for the user’s specific vehicle type, size, weight, cargo and speed. The device also comes with real-time traffic and speed camera warnings. Recommended retail price: EUR 349.99.

Finally, Delphi is set to test self-driving cars on a public highway in Wuppertal, Germany. Delphi stole headlines at this year’s New York Auto Show when it drove a driverless car across the U.S. The U.S.-based company will continue to innovate and road test its products on a 17-kilometre stretch of Highway 418 in Wuppertal, where it has a manufacturing plant.

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

Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.

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