/ Telematics Car Insurance

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tonyw - on 16 Jun 2017
Anyone had any good or bad experiences of telematics car insurance for young drivers.
Just got stung (feels that way) with insurance from Hastings Direct, perhaps should have read more reviews before signing up, but the experience felt like being in a Franz Kafka novel:
Driver rating is assessed by the insurer based on 4 criteria: Speed, Acceleration, Braking and Time of Day
Data is collected by Telematics device and then 'processed' by their algorithms to give a rating
They don't share the algorithms, just the score that results
If the score drops below 40/100, they cancel the insurance
If they cancel the insurance, you will struggle to get re-insured somewhere else
If you cancel the insurance, you pay a £250 premium for doing so.
Keeping the score above 40 was nearly impossible, when raised with the insurer, their advice was to drive more, use the brake less, and don't drive at all at night. Insurance is about to be cancelled and starting to look for another, so any suggestions welcome (is for my son, not me).
alexcollins123 - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

In my relatively limited experience, a large proportion of the cost is based upon where you live. When I lived with my parents I was paying £600/yr, but if I bought it up here in Nottingham I'd be looking at double that!

A friend of mine has a telematics box fitted to his car and has the opposite to say about it - he drives how he likes, whenever, however fast etc, and never sees premiums change or his score drop?!

Luckily I have a car provided by my company now, otherwise I would still be looking in excess of £1000 for insurance on a new-ish vehicle, and I'm 25 with 8 years experience! My girlfriend is about to learn to drive (gulp!), so we'll see how much it is for her soon.....

As for getting it cheaper, I went on my parents' policy for a few years as a named driver, driving their car. I still got stung, but to a lesser extent. When I had an accident (not my fault) it did affect everybody on the policy though - my brother, who was also on it at the time, is still affected by it!
La benya - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

your son is a shit driver.

I've had a box, I live in central London and in the last year I've had two crashes in the last year (well one me, one my girlfriend). My girlfriend lives 100 miles away so I do a fair amount of miles. My score is still 'silver' (my policy works that you have to be in the bottom 10% of drivers below their bronze banding).

I cant for the life of me see how you can drop that low unless he's racing around, late at light, in high risk areas.
2
tonyw - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to La benya:

Do you mind me asking who you are insured with, they sound a lot more reasonable to deal with. I struggled to understand how his scores are so low, the data to me seemed a little meaningless. For instance, his score for Acceleration and Braking have been 0/100 from day 1 of the contract to now, his Speed score however has remained close to 100/100. His Time of Day score was at 100/100, but even very short trips after 10pm result in a massive drop in the score (effectively making it a curfew). The frustration is that it does not seem in any way to represent 'fairness' of what could reasonably be expected, however because you are in effect completely in the hands of their assessment, which they don't share, then you find yourself in a pretty hopeless position.
Have registered a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman, I can see from searching on sites such as Trustpilot that there are many others with the same issue, some of whom are taking legal action, and then of course there will be many like myself that will probably just accept they have been ripped off and go find a better insurer (like the one you have by the sounds of things).
La benya - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

I'm assuming your son is young (under 25?).
Insurers do use these policies to curfew this group, and the driver accepts this as a cost of lower premium. most accidents happen late at night, by young men.
interesting about his acceleration scores. being 0 would suggest there is a problem with the accelerometer. maybe suggest this to the provider?

I'm currently with Admiral and they have been fantastic. As i said I've had two smashes this year and I've had absolutely no problems and their guys on the phones are great. I was with Hastings when i was 18 and had nothing but problems with them and so wont go near them now. They are always quite cheap though.
krikoman - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

How is his acceleration and braking? Have you sat with him to monitor?

Zero seems very low though , so it might not be reading anything, and zero is a default.
mullermn - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:
I've worked on the design and implementation of a telematics insurance platform and the mechanism you describe is a correct description of how they all work. I am surprised by the penalty for leaving though.

The benefit of telematics insurance to the insurer is that they can detect drivers who are likely to have an accident and remove them from their books before it happens. This reduces the number and size of claims they pay out on, which in turn allows them to sell their policies more cheaply to their remaining customers. Basically, if they think your son is a risk they should want him to cancel, so the fact that they also apply a penalty suggests they're not playing straight with their customers to me.

Edit: Insider trivia fact - if you look at actual telematics data, speeding basically has no correlation to the likelihood that you'll be in a crash. It's used as a factor because it's easy to monitor and everyone expects it to be a factor. The primary risk factor for being in an incident is simply the number of hours on the road.
Post edited at 12:21
Dax H - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

Once the insurance has been cancelled you have to declare it in future, that will add a lot to the policy.
The wife's was canceled due to get failing to declare my points.
She sent the copy of my licence as requested but forgot the points on the form so they canceled it and her next policy went from 400 to 800 quid.
Fortunately the original company didn't follow the correct procedure so the ombudsman got the cancellation record cleansed and got us the 400 quid back in compensation.
1
tonyw - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to krikoman:

Yep have been in the car with him several times, never know however if that is how he drives all the time, but would certainly not expect it to register as a zero. Did raise it with the insurance company, they believed the accelerometer was reading ok, but they would not share any of the data. On the reviews I have read, I did see one frustrated parent who took the car for a couple of weeks and drove it himself (he was a driving instructor), the score did not improve which convinced him it was not the fault of the driver.
tonyw - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to mullermn:

Thanks for that, interesting that number of hours on the road is the biggest factor, as the insurance company actually suggested to me as a way of improving the score (before it gets cancelled on Monday) was to go and do a load of miles.....
mullermn - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

What we found was that the insurance companies are so attached to their current models of what makes for risky behaviour that they were only interested in finding out how we could build some technology to monitor the things they *thought* were significant, they had no interest in working the other way round and using the data to work out what was genuinely important.

I guess this will change over time, but insurance has been around a long time, consumer telematics only a short time, and insurance is (unsurprisingly!) a very risk averse industry when it comes to change.
tonyw - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

Thanks Mullermn, I guess the thing that is most frustrating is that they tell you your score is bad, they won't actually tell you how they arrived at that, and getting the score back up is proving nigh on impossible, even their agent on the call I had with them yesterday said it would be virtually impossible to get a rating high enough before they cancel it, leaving you with only one realistic option, cancel it yourself and pay them the £250 for the privilege, then start again.
thel33ter - on 17 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

Last year I had the same Hastings Smartmiles policy, managed to maintain a score of 60 or so but it was tough. Did one drive from North Wales to Southampton at 2am->5am and never managed to get my driving at night score back over 20. Acceleration and braking just involved lots of being very very very gentle, and speed generally sat around 70 points (averaged 80-85 most of the time on the motorway, stuck to other speed limits). Didn't have any hassles like that with them, but they equally weren't very helpful the few times I had to talk to them.

What I've found helped boost my score were do a bunch of ~half hour drives very smoothly, and the scores seemed to tick up nicely the next day. Although none of mine ever reached zero. That sounds like something is broken to me.

I too am now with Admiral without a box as it was cheaper and so far so good. Hope you get it sorted, car insurance for young people is ridiculous.
Richard Wilson - on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

Admiral dont adjust the policy mid term.

You can log in & see the score / trip data.

Updated with a 5 day delay.

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La benya - on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to Richard Wilson:

Mine admiral black box policy would. If you're below the threshold you have 2 months to work your way out of it, before they charge an additional premium
r0x0r.wolfo - on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

> Yep have been in the car with him several times, never know however if that is how he drives all the time, but would certainly not expect it to register as a zero. Did raise it with the insurance company, they believed the accelerometer was reading ok, but they would not share any of the data. On the reviews I have read, I did see one frustrated parent who took the car for a couple of weeks and drove it himself (he was a driving instructor), the score did not improve which convinced him it was not the fault of the driver.

Subject access request? It will cost you a tenner but they are required to respond in a month.
L bearman68 - on 21 Jun 2017
In reply to mullermn:

Interesting response. I presume the box uses mobile phone signal to transfer data? There is no connection to the car electronics? So the engine speed could be very high without having negative effects on the box?
Is it possible to remove the box? Leave it on a table somewhere - that should help ones driving score.
Just wondering how they work.

Thanks
wintertree - on 21 Jun 2017
In reply to mullermn:

> I guess this will change over time,

I think so. I think that the increasing prevalence of more advanced automatic safety features that slowly morph into fully autonomous driving will almost destroy the insurance industry.

What little remains will have a simpler job with less wiggle room, as the probability of an accident involving no cars with a high level of video and radar data logging will be low, so in most cases the root blame will be definitive; no more just declaring it 50/50 regardless...
wintertree - on 21 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

Two thoughts. First is that your son may be able to access the underlying telematics through a request under the Data Protection Act, although I expect the firm will refuse citing the exemption that protects information of a proprietary business nature,

Second is that given the extremal and opposing nature of the scores, there may be a fault with the telematics box. Find the formal procedure with the insurer that you should follow to have this investigated, and if there isn't one follow their formal complaints procedure. I expect the ombudsman won't intervene until you have exhausted their formal procedure.
mullermn - on 21 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

The box is generally pretty independent of the vehicle, the only thing it really needs is a power supply. Everything else can be done with the box's internal GPS and accelerometers. There are some that do connect to the CAN bus (the internal network that the various components in the car use to communicate) but that's not really for the insurance functionality.

There are providers out there that will do insurance based on an app on a phone and avoid the box in the vehicle. I don't know how good their data would be, the phone hardware is very high quality but you'd obviously have to account for a lot more junk data/journeys where the phone isn't present.

The boxes tend to buffer data in case of bad connection and use low bandwidth mobile connections to send the data back to the mothership. They may include some anti tamper functionality (like alerting if they're disconnected from power).

The driving score algorithms vary, but you'd expect most to only take in to account time you're actually driving as evidence of the quality of your driving - though obviously if your car stays on the drive then your chances of avoiding an accident are going to be pretty good!
Dauphin on 21 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

Not had my own car for years, got offered telematics device as first year premium was over £1100. I was a little apprehensive. Consistently score between 85% and 95% on it and had insurance knocked down each year. This is with Direct Line. This was with a speeding fine - 35 in a 30. I read the angry comments about the telematics device in the app store and the total lack of insight into their erratic driving and road risk type of road and time of day is informative.

Maybe an advanced driving course would work out safer in the long run and cheaper in the short run?

D
Dauphin on 21 Jun 2017
In reply to Dauphin:

I live in a shitty council estate in the north west when I'm not in Monaco btw. Doesn't seem to be interested in location of the car or speed either. Just attentive proactive driving at the right time of day and away from heavy traffic.

D
Neil Williams - on 21 Jun 2017
In reply to thel33ter:
> I too am now with Admiral without a box as it was cheaper and so far so good. Hope you get it sorted, car insurance for young people is ridiculous.

Is it (i.e. is it unduly profitable within that demographic when compared to insuring, say, 50-59 year olds)? Or is there a reason for it?

I've had two accidents, one age 21 and one age 18. Many people will fit that kind of pattern. (I'm now 37)

My observation of younger drivers (including thinking back to me at that age) is that they are not generally very defensive and thus are much more susceptible to accidents "caused" (but ending up 50-50) by others. My first one was 50-50 but in retrospect it was completely avoidable with some thought. Even my second one was possibly avoidable even though it was a rear-ending if I'd been watching in the mirror throughout while stationary, and left more space in front of me to shuffle forwards a little if I saw someone coming too fast.
Post edited at 10:41
tonyw - on 22 Jun 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Thanks for that, yes have registered a formal complaint and they have started that process, which will take up to 8 weeks (as you say Ombudsman won't get involved until the outcome of that). In the meantime they have sent the notification to cancel, so will need to cancel it myself before they do (which I think is what they want), pay the £250 and find another company. Looking at Ingenie now as an alternative.
tonyw - on 22 Jun 2017
In reply to Dauphin:

Am cancelling the policy (have to in the next 7 days), so will look at DirectLine, thanks for that. Will be really interesting to see how the scores compare with a different provider, will show whether it is the driver or the current insurer.
thel33ter - on 22 Jun 2017
In reply to Neil Williams:
I completely agree that younger drivers are more likely to have accidents, and paying more makes total sense, however the costs in the UK far exceed what I would expect to pay.

I struggled to get an insurance quote for less than £1300-£1500 initially, normally with a £500 excess. The exception to this price bracket was £790 on a certain Ford Focus estate. I've no idea why it came out so low.

For a point of comparison, in South Africa a few years ago at 19 I paid ~£300 fully comp on a Mercedes C Class 2.2l while visiting family there. Similarly, in the States my girlfriends family pay a couple of hundred dollars extra to have a 17 and a 21 year old on their policy.

According to the department for transport, around 500000 17-25 year olds pass their driving tests yearly. Assuming half get a car and that number has been constant, that puts four million 17-25 year old drivers on the road (bit high maybe). Brake.org reckons 25% of these drivers will have an accident, which makes for a million accidents. Assuming the younger driver is at fault 100% of the time, if each driver pays £1300 or so including excess, that pretty much leaves £5200 for each incident. Most minor ones should cost less than that to be sorted, leaving a chunk left over for bigger incidents. Which sort of makes my point a bit moot.

So after that pointless arithmetic exercise, it kinda sounds like it'll break even, meaning the profit must come from older drivers. Insurance works because many people pay a little bit into a pot to cover the few who screw up. I should go do something more productive now.

Post edited at 09:03
Toerag - on 22 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

Given that two of the scores never change I would challenge them to prove that the box is working. There must be a surefire way to make those scores change. i.e. do a 40 mile drive at 2pm along a motorway 3 times and no other driving.
timjones - on 22 Jun 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> I think so. I think that the increasing prevalence of more advanced automatic safety features that slowly morph into fully autonomous driving will almost destroy the insurance industry.

I regularly attend customer forums for our insurance company and they give a great insight into the insurance business.

Given that we can never remove all the risk and totally negate the need for insurance , I'd say that any lowering of risk will reduce overheads for insurance companies which will be good for the industry and good for customers who use good efficient and ethical insurers.

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bigsecret - on 22 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

My son (18 years old) has a telematics policy with Marmalade. He gets a rating on line for every journey. There is no curfew. He struggles to get his score out of the high 90's (out of 100). A bad score puts you on a warning - a period of sensible driving gets you back out of the warning. Another warning whilst on warning makes things worse and could incur a cost increase.

In my son's words "you'd have to drive like a complete knob to get a warning"
wintertree - on 22 Jun 2017
In reply to timjones:

> Given that we can never remove all the risk and totally negate the need for insurance , I'd say that any lowering of risk will reduce overheads for insurance companies which will be good for the industry and good for customers who use good efficient and ethical insurers.

I suppose that depends on what you mean by "the industry". If payouts drop 10x by some unspecified future point due to proportionately lower accident number and severity, then premiums drop and the number of jobs needed to process everything at the firms drops. So far less work for people even if profits are somehow maintained.

Definitely good for customers assuming the insurance industry adapts at pace with technology. The lack of information provided to the OP and the negative consequences show how it can be frustrating l.

Then again at some point shared ownership autonomous-only vehicles underwritten by fleet operators are perhaps going to obliterate a lot of consumer insurance. I don't know what fraction of vehicles will end up following this model and not private ownership or private rental but it's going to offer people a much lower cost model for personal mobility.
AJM - on 22 Jun 2017
In reply to thel33ter:

I know some will find it hard to believe, but actually relatively frequently there is no profit in the motor insurance market.

http://uk.milliman.com/uploadedFiles/insight/2016/Driving-for-Profit-2016.pdf
mytornado84 - on 22 Jun 2017
In reply to tonyw:

I've done a fair bit of research on the subject for work and I would say Marmalade have one of the strongest propositions in the market. But ultimately young drivers will not get cheap car insurance, premium drops significantly at 21, 25, 30 and sometimes 40.

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