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I renewed my car insurance this week.


Forum Editor

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When discussing the premium with the insurance company I asked if there was any way it might be reduced. 'Well', said the person at the other end 'you might be interested in our Telematics pilot scheme'.

Intrigued, I asked for more information, and she went on to explain that this was a scheme whereby a monitoring device is placed in the car, and data is sent back to the company, telling them about my driving patterns. The idea is to gather information about how people drive, and at the end of the 12 month insurance period I could be offered a further reduction in my premium, if my driving has been such that it lowered my risk of an accident. I am guaranteed that the premium will not be increased as a result of any data recorded. No data will be passed to a third party without my consent, and then it would be anonymous and aggregated.

If I have an accident the device will detect the impact and send an immediate alert to the insurers, who will contact me by phone within an hour to ask if I need any assistance. If my car is stolen the Telematic device's data will be released to Police to tell them where the vehicle is.

For participating I was offered a 10% reduction on the premium, and as I was interested I agreed.

The device is fitted at home, and I have an undertaking that it will cause no damage or loss of performance to my vehicle. It's about the size of a mobile phone, and will tuck away somewhere under the dashboard. Within a few months I'll be offered access to the data that comes from my car via a special website.

Has anyone heard of this scheme, or is anyone currently participating? I haven't had the device installed yet - that will happen shortly.

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Forum Editor

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bumpkin

I think my basic understanding is just fine thanks. Perhaps you should read what I said.

There is a benefit to me - I get an additional ten percent discount on this year's premium, in addition to my multi-car discount, and my nine year no claim discount.

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Forum Editor

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Aitchbee

I read the small print before agreeing. The device is going in the car for one year. If I decide to use a different insurer after that the device will be removed at no charge, I'm not tied to anything.

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Forum Editor

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Hondaman

No small print problems - I wouldn't have agreed if there were.

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bumpkin

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FE, if you believe this is for your benefit go ahead. Personally I would not want one as there will be a "catch" somewhere along the line. As you have got in early you may well be OK and save some money in the short term but at the end of the day that sort of technology is not given away by insurance companies unless there is an alterior motive. If you can get a deal when it is going fair play, we all would. Bottom line is who pays in the end.

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Forum Editor

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bumpkin

The ulterior motive is pretty obvious. Gathering data like this enables an insurer to build models of driving patterns by age group and sex, and attempt to give itself an edge in terms of premium rates.

I've been driving and insuring vehicles for many years, and I'm not naïve when it comes to insurance. I am getting a clear benefit by participating in this pilot study, and when the time comes to renew my policy I will, as always, shop around. My insurers know this, and they've said that they may well be able to offer me a better rate next year.

We'll see, but in the meantime I can't lose.

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bumpkin

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FE, that is a very reasonable explanation and reply. As an editor of a PC mag are you not concerned about the other capabilities of such a device. I hope it is fine for you. Maybe I am just a cynic but if it does not ring true then it normally isn't. Do it if you feel right about it but I would not.

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spuds

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These devices and 'accident recorders' have been around for some time now, but the UK insurance market as been slow on the uptake. I suppose you could say its a little like an electricity/gas smart meter, which sends constant data back to control?.

One of my major concerns would be on data sharing, and it would seem in this case, that might not apply, if the information is correct. But knowing how some insurance companies have been found to 'sell' information onto claims companies, then I would be rather suspicious?.

The other point being made, is the insurance company contacting the vehicle owner 'within the hour to ask if you need assistance'. I would image that 'within an hour' any driver would have already gained assistance. My breakdown and recovery cover, provides assistance within 30/40 minutes. If the accident is serious enough, then the emergency services should already be on the scene. Unless what happened not far from where I live a couple of years ago, when a young person lost his life down an embankment, because the police wasn't able to find the vehicle, after it had been reported in. But had this device been fitted to that vehicle, the police might have had more success?.

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Forum Editor

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bumpkin

"Do it if you feel right about it but I would not."

Fair enough, but why? You haven't explained why it "does not ring true" or why you think I'm "not concerned about the other capabilities of such a device."

I'm certainly concerned, and I know its capabilities - it sends data on my driving patterns back to a data centre; it's incapable of doing anything else, other than detecting a collision. I know what will happen to the data it transmits, because I have it in a written agreement from the insurer. I have agreed that tracking data may be provided to the Police in the event of my car being stolen. I have agreed to being contacted by phone if the device detects a collision. I have agreed to my data being used in a non-identifiable, aggregated form for the insurer's business purposes.

I have no concerns at all, otherwise I wouldn't have agreed to having this device fitted.

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Forum Editor

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spuds

The clause about contacting me 'within an hour' is obviously a covering clause. The insurer told me that in fact I would almost certainly get a call within ten minutes. They will have the location, they will have my speed at, and immediately prior to the collision, and they'll have the weather conditions, all they'll need from me is a verbal report and the other driver's details and they'll have the claim details.

It's often the case with electronic devices that their capabilities exceed the operator's requirements, so added facilities can be bolted on. This call-back facility obviously comes under that heading - the device has an accelerometer built-in, so why not use it for this?

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Quickbeam

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FE, what sort of percentage reduction of the premium can be expected when you next renew? Assuming that you don't register your self as a maniac boy racer type.

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