By Mike Brockman, CEO, ThingCo
Insurance is changing fast and insurtech businesses like ThingCo are leading that march. Consider the incredible power and fast-moving pace of technology – and its influence on risk, pricing, data availability and customer engagement – with tools such as AI, voice, machine learning and the Cloud all in a IoT world, how could insurance not change?
This is creating a great opportunity for the insurance industry to make a real positive connection with their customers, making the world a better place in what is an increasing complex environment. This can be achieved in many ways; saving lives on our roads by using connected car technology, improving healthcare by positive use of AI in early diagnosis, and real-time control of connected in-home risk giving us all peace of mind and help when it’s most needed.
Data processing power is key. ThingCo had the advantage of starting with a clean sheet and knew that to meet our ambitions to bring to market next generation telematics, we needed huge data processing power at low cost. In one of the first examples of the power of Amazon Web Services, we designed a completely serverless solution using AWS IoT to efficiently process thousands of data points a second in real-time.
The next step was developing a telematics device that consumers would actually want and value in its own right – rather than something that is imposed on them to get cheaper insurance. I have always believed that telematics would reach its potential when you really empower consumers with the data and a core aspect to this is being there for them when they have an accident. Like an Apple Watch on their wrist, a smart little black box in the windscreen has the same feel of quality, and is there to support them, first and foremost – not their insurer.
So we designed a telematics device branded Theo that looks smart, is super easy to install, will talk to the driver in a collision to expedite support and is solar-powered – in fact it is one of the first examples of the application of green energy in insurance. The device sticks discreetly to the windscreen of the car and will run for 50,000km before needing to recharge – which in most cases means never.
This solves issues such as battery drain, in-car distraction, and data accuracy common in other telematics solutions whilst still being low cost for the sector and convenient for the customer. Self-fitted in seconds, the device can easily be transferrable and re-cycled reducing costs to insurers further.
The use of solar energy is a selling point in itself but the real benefit is that it is powering new services that go beyond the basic insurance product – driven by highly accurate, second by second, driving data and crash detection.
A crash alert kicks in and activates a voice command using Amazon Lex and Amazon Connect in the device that will ask the driver if they had an accident. The power of the technology means we can identify exactly what has happened, we can establish if anyone is injured and need emergency services or need other services such as a hire car to get them home. This type of response transforms the claims process for the customer and the insurance provider.
Our solar-powered telematics device is now being adopted by insurance providers in the UK, across Europe and as far as Asia and my vision to make the market think differently about telematics is becoming a reality.
With next generation telematics, the data is no longer a one way street direct into the insurer. You can feed that data back to the customer and develop additional services such as a voice alert when they have been driving for too long without a break, an incentive of a coffee at the next rest-stop.
We’re not stopping there. By introducing new technologies into telematics devices such as camera, ADAS, black spot warnings, as well as Voice you create a device that not only helps the driver but also creates incredible amounts of data that’s useful to the insurer to manage risk and provide better customer services. The data brings huge value to the insurance provider, offering a whole range of detail – like a liability assessment, video footage, fault, g-force etc.
Technology has changed massively over the last ten years, the quality of devices has developed and the Cloud has opened the potential for telematics products to be designed for customers in the most attractive way. Crash notifications, voice support and rewards will all become expected services from insurers in the future – our device is now helping the market get on the front foot of that transition, helping the sector build their connected car propositions and show consumers how their data can be used to their benefit.
By leveraging next generation telematics technology the insurance market has a window of opportunity to turn the motor insurance grudge purchase into something consumers really start to value.