Mobile telematics can fill gaps between accidents and bring valuable insights to insurers

Published: June 29, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Using mobile telematics data could offer valuable insights on distracted driving, despite sometimes offering meaningless information. Using the data from telematics devices could allow insurance companies to better understand impact loss trends, argued a speaker at the third Insurance Analytics Canada Summit.

The event was held in Toronto on Wednesday and one of the speakers was Ted Gramer, CEO of TrueMotion, a Boston-based mobile telematics data company. Gramer said his company’s Mojo mobile app, and others like it, are starting to offer “really rich information” on distracted driving and how people use smartphones in the car.

“With the phone data, we are able to not only at a high-level look at distraction, but we can take distraction really at microseconds and tell the difference between the time you are texting, the time you are on Bluetooth, the time you are just using the phone with your hands, activity, typing, swiping, locked, not unlocked,” Gramer said. “That level of granularity is what is driving the trend. So we can actually build loss trends from really a granular level and rebuild the impact on frequency. Once you know what the loss trends are starting to look like, the next chapter is trying to figure out how do you take the rate and adjust your premiums to reflect that.”

Using on-device technology like GPS and sensors, companies can delve deeper into usage data and “almost get down to risk per trip” Gramer said. During the presentation, titled How Mobile Apps are Unlocking the Next Generation of Insurance Products and Services, he added that such information can fill data gaps between accidents:

“The opportunity to dig in and connect the dots with mobile data is far more than I ever appreciated. The challenge is it’s not easily accessible. It’s taking really noisy data.”

Despite the technology being nascent, Gramer says his company is seeing positive results.

“The key leverage point in behaviour modification is it happens right after you put the app on the phone,” he told audience members. “If you want to impact loss trends, you can do it accident month one by getting this kind of behaviour modification onto the phone.”

And once the data is available, “you can start mapping it back to your rate indications, so you don’t need to start applying peanut butter rates across the board,” he said. “You can start to get a lot more targeted: which segments and which types of people are driving your loss cost.”

“… You could have a customer that right after an accident just swipes in the trip in your app and all this data goes right to the insurance company and provides the basis,” Gramer suggested. “And you could really almost write a payment for small claims based on that type of experience. That’s not what the industry is doing today.”