Another day, another telematics deal…
This time, the offering comes from ProSight Specialty Insurance who has teamed up with telematics hardware manufacturer SmartDrive to launch a fleet telematics solution by the name of SecureFleet. This product is aimed towards reducing costs via reduction of collisions for commercial transportation users such as taxis and buses.
Like most fleet telematics devices, the actual hardware unit consists of the standard array of sensors, being GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer, and vehicle health monitoring via diagnostic port. In addition to the usual sensors lays the true heart of the SecureFleet system- the video-based event recorder. The service is touted by ProSight as “the only partnership between an insurance company and its customers to reduce risk with a complimentary video based safety system and driver coaching service”. That is marketing speak for “it’s a black box with video” then.
The computer vision algorithms within the unit allow the system to detect lane departures, while the accelerometers, gyroscopes and GPS track the driver’s attitude and position. These data sets are merged and processed, providing information on events such as lane departures and hard breaking. The driver behavior data is then sent as feedback to the driver via a points based system, such as that we have seen already from the RAC/Ingenie joint venture.
SmartDrive CEO Steve Mitgang states that driver behavioral feedback can produce a “terrific drop in overall cost of claims and sheer number of collisions.”
So unlike the RAC/Ingenie system, drivers are not necessarily rewarded for driving better, they are in fact being rewarded for not having accidents.
The SmartDrive website itself states that the system is not to be used for penalizing drivers, rather it is used for exonerating drivers. According to their website, over 80% of the videos are used for exoneration, the remainder for coaching and skills training.
And what of Big Brother type privacy concerns? SmartDrive have this locked down too. Apparently the video only begins recording at the time of an event, such as a swerve or harsh braking. This ensures that the accident is captured as it happens, and also reduced data storage needs. According to SmartDrive, this means that the video is only recording for on average 5 minutes per week.
The money part
In terms of price, ProSight covers all of the service and unit costs except the cost of installation. Installation costs between $90 and $195 per vehicle, and there is an $50 annual connection charge for each vehicle. So for an initial investment of around $250, you can be up and running with the ProSight system.
SmartDrive are extremely confident that their system can demonstrate a noticeable reduction in collision frequency, and list their customers as Ryder, Loomis, Brinks, and AAA, claiming that their fleet customers have seen a reduction of up to 70% of the costs caused by collisions.
New kid on the block
So in conclusion, while SecureFleet can claim to be the first offering of this nature, it is fair to say that they won’t be the last.
Given the added-value (and convenience) of combining pre-existing hardware such as that of SmartDrive with the existing insurance infrastructure such as that offered by ProSight, we should expect to see more companies taking advantage of this type of business model in future. It’s infinitely easier to integrate existing businesses with pre-existing customer bases than it is to grow a new business from scratch. It’s simply good business sense. The only question is how will these new ventures remain innovative? What new uses of telematics data will these new ventures employ to remain ahead of the curve?
Time will tell, and I suspect that we won’t have to wait for too long to find out.
Photos courtesy of SmartDrive.