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Telematics insurance: we’re not all the same

There was a bit of press about some other telematics insurers over the weekend. It really highlighted the differences between black box insurers, so I wanted to address a few of them here and explain how ingenie is different.

One thing we've always felt is very important is how we communicate with drivers in our community. Before launching, we did lots of focus groups with young drivers and parents, which led us to the approach we have now.

We believe we've found the sweet spot where we’re using telematics data to help our customers, without overstepping the ‘Big Brother’ line.

We don't: text parents

Our customers are adults and they have a right to decide with their family whose contact details are linked to the policy and who sees their driving feedback. We don't make that choice for them and start texting their parents - that's not our call.

Some telematics insurers take this decision upon themselves, but we think that’s going way too far with ‘it’s for your own good’. It’s our job to help young drivers see the benefits of driving well, not force them to do things they resent. And texting someone’s mum to snitch on them definitely falls into resentment territory.

In actual fact, we don't even text at all - we send simple driving feedback through our mobile app and website.

We don't: report on location

Sending parents the exact time and place their child is driving - "James has just stopped a bit too sharply at the traffic lights by Sainsbury's" - is not on. Young drivers need to have the freedom and encouragement to choose to drive well, without being ganged up on.

Although our black boxes contain a GPS device so we can help locate our drivers' cars if they're stolen, our app doesn't give feedback with locations.

We don't: send 'live' updates

Reporting on every single mistake would quickly become white noise, but this is the system that the recent press has focused on: an almost live feed of the driver's mistakes.

Instead, we look for driving trends over a period of 10 days - an approach we developed with experts in young driver psychology - which means we're building up a picture of a person's overall driving style.

We DO: encourage parents to stay involved

We love parents, parents are great. We've seen in our community that drivers who choose to share their feedback with their parents are 28% less likely to crash than those who don't - but it’s the choice that’s important.

Staying involved throughout the learning process and beyond goes a long way towards helping young drivers develop the right attitude to driving. It's not just about paying for driving lessons, paying for a car, paying for the insurance.

That support is amazing, but showing an interest in their driving even after the test can really help sustain the good habits they learned with their driving instructor.

Not all telematics policies are the same

There are so many insurers jumping on the telematics bandwagon now that choosing telematics - while a great step - isn't quite the whole story. Every black box insurer has a different method, so the cheapest quote isn't always going to be the best option.

I've often likened it to choosing a school for your children: you don't go for what's most convenient. You choose the community that's going to nurture your child's individual needs, and help them be happy and prepared for everything life throws at them.


Let's look at the bigger picture

The situation for young drivers had become a social and economic issue, with far too many crashing (one-in-five in their first six months on the road), which led to unaffordable rates for insurance.

The only way young drivers were going to see affordable insurance was to have fewer crashes. If we’d left it to the government, that would probably have meant graduated licensing - making getting on the road an even longer and harder process, and possibly introducing curfews or other restrictions for the first years of driving.

Telematics is working. The cost of insurance has fallen dramatically over the past few years and young drivers within our own community have lowered their risk of crashing by 40%.

The beauty of telematics is that it's a choice: you decide to opt in. It's not Big Brother, it's not a speed camera in disguise - it's a fantastic use of technology that helps young people get mobile and be independent. And that's why it's great news that the government has now commissioned research into the impact of telematics.

What's the alternative? Our young sons and daughters will continue to crash at an alarming rate, insurance will become unaffordable again - and the government will have to consider very unpopular policies that will hinder mobility.

It’s frustrating to see that some telematics insurers still aren't making the most of the technology's road safety potential, but we'll continue to share the results we're seeing at ingenie so more young drivers can benefit in the future.

Honor Clement-Hayes

By Honor Clement-Hayes

Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .