Belinda Felix, General Manager Insurance and Banking Vertical at Netstar
Tony: Telematics has come a long way, I remember when I first heard about telematics, it was all about finding your car when it disappears. That’s how we got
to know it and for a lot of people, that is still the idea. Can you tell us a bit about what telematics firstly is and then vehicle telematics specifically?
Belinda: Telematics is quite a broad subject because there are really two verticals within telemetry. The one is obviously your stolen vehicle recovery. Tracking your
vehicle if it’s stolen and then recovering it. Then you have the data that comes out of the vehicle via data streaming which we also use. On the commercial side we can
decipher how much fuel is being used, route optimization, total operating costs of vehicles, and then, what a lot of insurers and companies are currently doing, is looking at how they can measure driver behavior to reduce risk. So there’s a lot of data that comes out of the telematics unit and it’s quite nice to see how we can use that data, firstly for the customer, and then also for the insurer or finance house.
Tony: Maybe you can tell us a bit about how you have seen this change over the years, from the basic of just finding your car, to where we are now. Has there been
in a specific pattern, or has something prompted the change in terms of how you use it now?
Belinda: There has been a big change because primarily when we started out, it was just focused on stolen vehicle recovery. We went from being reactive to a proactive unit, which was the first big milestone and breakthrough in telemetry. From having your vehicle stolen or hijacked and then you having to phone in, to actually having your vehicle tell you, or the unit says, that the vehicle has been stolen or hijacked after it has been armed. That was the first breakthrough. Then, obviously, we have progressed to asking what other information we can derive from the unit, and how we can use that information to mitigate risk. So when it comes to accidents, you can look at your first notification of loss, the G-forces with regards to accidents, and then you can do assessing to ensure that there are no fraudulent claims.
Then there is route optimization for consumers. As well as the shortest routes, they can also track loved ones, adding to safety. Then, on another flip side, it is used in validating data, the time of accidents for example, so that you haventhe correct information when you submit a claim, avoiding any discrepancies.
Tony: It’s fascinating to see how technology changes and impacts what we do. From the pandemic perspective, that obviously has changed so many things
for us in the industry. How has that made a difference in the telematics environment?
Belinda: Going into hard lockdown, obviously, everybody was at home and there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the road. However, we had the essential services running so we could still monitor and track those assets. But what we realised coming out of lockdown over the month is that a lot of insurance companies have actually approached us to do modular, user based insurance. They are going more towards the connected vehicle and data streaming, to utilise the data for a reward loyalty programme or to measure risk.
Many of the big insurers are also stepping away from your “stolen vehicle recovery only” unit. They are making sure that they’ve got that to at least mitigate the risk on the high risk vehicles, but also using the date to see what kind of drivers they have and then basing their premiums on the driver behaviour. We are noticing more and more of that coming through from insurers.
Tony: On the more personal side. What do you find most exciting about these current developments?
Belinda: I think it’s about trying to not do a vanilla type of product for each of our customers. So where one group or one insurer will look at a specific data set for their risk, another group would look at a totally different data set and building insurance products around that. If you are looking at the first notification of loss as a service to your consumer it means that, in the event of an incident, for example, a G-force notification is sent through and you can activate response teams. It’s a service that your customer would obviously appreciate.
Then, looking at the claims side of things, if you look at the G forces and impacts on the first notification of loss, you can mitigate fraud if there are any parts that
are being claimed for the vehicle where the impact was not appropriate. Those are the types of things that are very exciting to see coming together. And then obviously digitization, because insurance was usually a pen to the paper type of transaction, but now we’re trying to put everything into the consumers hand through apps and digitization. This ensures that when things happen, at a press of a button they can send an alert and they can submit a claim. So there’s a lot of exciting product developments happening in the background.
Tony: Absolutely brilliant. Then, based on all of this, there are a lot of developments around telematics. Netstar has launched a CPD platform, specifically for brokers to improve their knowledge in that environment and get CPD points. What is your vision with that platform?
Belinda: Netstar has been in the telematics industry for 27 years, so we have vast knowledge on telemetry, and all the risks involved in the different fields, be it consumer space, or commercial space. What we decided to do last year was to give back to the insurance industry. The insurance industry and the finance industry have always been very big customers of ours and we wanted to do something that allows us to add value to our insurers and brokers to keep their staff aware of how telemetry is helping us in the insurance space, and also getting our name out there. It is about brand awareness and also just giving back, because of the six CPD hours that can be obtained through the CPD course.
Tony: Lastly, what feedback are you receiving from people that have gone onto the platform and done CPD?
Belinda: I think you should give it a shot and actually go do the CPD, just so that you can see. We’ve had really great responses from brokers and insurers alike because, usually, the CPD points are based on normal insurance related topics, where we have tried to throw in a lot of the benefits of telemetry into the courses that we have created. It is clear that the content adds value and found to be interesting.
From both insurers, big insurers, direct insurers and brokers, we’ve had an overwhelming response and take up of the CPD courses that we’ve put into the market.