By Mike Brockman, CEO, ThingCo
Insurance is going through a big transformation as insurtech businesses such as ThingCo exploit the speed of today’s technology and data processing power to create new ways to connect and engage with customers and mitigate risk. Technology can have a massive influence on how risk is managed, how insurance pricing is calculated, how customers are supported and how much data is generated that can help every part of the insurance process.
There are already many great examples of how data and technology is changing insurance from a grudge purchase to something people actually value and want. Thousands of young lives have been saved from the trauma of a road accident thanks to telematics insurance, in healthcare AI is helping early diagnosis and in the home, connected devices are offering security and peace of mind when the property is vacant – lockdown periods excluding!
As an insurance provider, if you mitigate risk, you save your customers from the stress and trauma of an accident and claim, you lower your costs, improve profitably and can become more competitive in your pricing. This simple concept led to the development of telematics insurance more than a decade ago and now through AI, Voice, machine learning, the Cloud we are bringing to market next generation telematics.
At the heart of this revolution in insurance is data processing power. Data is useless in this new world if you can’t act on it in real-time. At ThingCo we needed huge data processing power at low cost to support a telematics service driven by highly accurate, second by second, driving data and crash detection. We needed a solution that would allow us to upscale on demand as our telematics devices rolled out to hundreds, then thousands and in time, millions of drivers, in the UK, Europe, Africa and Asia.
So we designed a completely serverless solution using Amazon Web Services IoT to efficiently process thousands of data points a second in real-time. It is one of the first examples of the power of Amazon Web Services, in insurance and ThingCo has been used as a case study for this highly flexible Cloud based solution.
We also knew we needed to make our telematics device something consumers would actually want and value in its own right. It is there in their car to look after them first and foremost. That meant it needed to look smart, (think Apple products smart) and act smart in every respect. So we designed a solar powered telematics device branded Theo that’s small and discreet, sticks to the windscreen of the car and will talk to the driver in a collision to expedite support.
The fact that it will run for 50,000km before needing to recharge solves common issues found in other telematics solutions such as battery drain, in-car distraction, and data accuracy.
Despite the fact this device has vastly improved capabilities, the cost of technology has fallen so the price is kept low for insurance providers and there are none of the operational challenges of professionally installed devices. It can also be easily transferrable and re-cycled reducing costs to insurers further.
In a collision a crash alert kicks in and activates a voice command using Amazon Lex and Amazon Connect in the device that will speak to the driver to ask if they have had an accident. We can identify exactly what has happened, if anyone is injured and need emergency services or need other services such as a hire car to get them home.
This type of support at the point of a collision not only transforms the claims process for the customer, it enables the insurance provider to expedite the claim based on the data gathered.
Coming back to the point about risk mitigation, with next generation telematics, the data is no longer a one way street direct into the insurer. The driving data can be fed back to the customer in ways that will help support safer driving. For example you could offer a voice alert when they have been driving for too long without a break, offer an incentive of a coffee at the next service station or feedback on roads where they regularly exceed the speed limit.
The next step will be introducing new technologies into telematics devices such as camera, ADAS, black spot warnings, as well as Voice. In this way you create a device that supports the driver and creates incredible amounts of data that’s useful to the insurer to manage risk and provide better customer services. It will offer insurance providers an unparalleled range of detail around a collision for liability assessment – video footage, fault, g-force etc.
Technology is helping to reinvent the concept of insurance and has opened the potential for telematics products to be designed for customers in a way that will have genuine appeal. Consumers will soon expect crash notifications, voice support and rewards to be part and parcel of their insurance cover as connected car volumes grow and services from embedded telematics become mainstream. Next generation telematics is helping the insurance market get ready for that time, showing customers how they can benefit from their driving data in reduced costs and improved safety.