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Safer roads, lower costs with telematics

Read time 2min 30sec

Vehicle telematics devices are increasingly being adopted as an effective way to manage fleets and lower insurance costs.

So says Christelle Fourie, MD of MUA Insurance Acceptances, who adds that telematics enables insurers to gain a coherent picture of motorists' driving habits.

A telematics device fitted in a car is able to gather driving data such as excessive speed, swerving and mileage, allowing insurance premiums to be tailored to the driver's individual risk behaviour. Fourie notes that this results in fairer rates for law-abiding, careful drivers.

"In the past, premium calculations depended largely on basic information, such as vehicle characteristics, use of the vehicle, location and driver details including past driver history, age and gender," she says. "The types of data that can be collected by a telematics unit include swerving and sudden manoeuvres, and the vehicle's actual speed versus the average speed of all other vehicles, which can help ascertain whether a vehicle is speeding, but still driving consistently with other road users."

The technology is already showing a high adoption rate, says Fourie, with forecasts indicating that there will be nearly 90 million telematics users worldwide by 2017. MUA Insurance Acceptances has partnered with Tracker to provide South African clients the opportunity to tailor their premiums and earn low mileage discounts.

The devices are also able to store and transmit driving data for scrutiny, giving clients the option to access their driving statistics online or via a mobile app, with lower premiums offered for improved behaviour.

The option to review driving behaviours makes telematics an excellent option for fleet management, continues Fourie. "More and more companies are starting to use telematics to manage their fleet costs."

This includes managing driver behaviour with driver scores, noting bad habits, tracking maintenance and utilisation, and recovering stolen vehicles. Acting on this information will ultimately reduce accident rates and costs, she says.

In addition to lowering costs, telematics can improve driver safety by allowing immediate emergency notification and roadside assistance. "When a vehicle has a potential incident, the force of the impact is detected by the device, which then sends an alert to the emergency service centre to contact the customer to find out if they need assistance," explains Fourie. If the customer does not respond after a high impact, emergency services can be dispatched immediately.

"Telematics creates an incentive to encourage safer driving on our roads. It will not be long before most insurance providers in South Africa will be including telematics technology in their product offerings - telematics is the future of the motor insurance industry," she concludes.

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