TU talks to Jonathan Hubbard, CEO and co-founder of SpeedGauge, about improving driver behavior and reducing risk through insurance telematics solutions
Briefly, what does your company/department do?
First, SpeedGauge partners with telematics providers to offer a driver behavior coaching service to commercial fleets to reduce excessive speeding.
Second, the company offers a business intelligence platform to insurers and others to understand some of the risks associated with fleets and drivers.
What is your role and experience in the Insurance Telematics market?
Our driver-behavior service offering helps improve driver behavior and reduce risk. It relates to insurance risk the way a home alarm system might relate to risk on a home owner’s policy.
In fact, an analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation safety scores (i.e., Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Compliance Safety Accountability scores) shows that SpeedGauge-equipped fleets are on average 35 percent better than fleets of a comparable size.
More broadly, SpeedGauge has been evaluating excessive speed events at the individual vehicle and road segment level for several years now. We have done a number of custom insurance projects related to this data.
In July, we announced that we are providing value-added analytics at the fleet and driver level for Brazos Specialty Risk, a player in the mid-size commercial truck fleet, which is now offering insurance discounts based on use of SpeedGauge.
According to Brazos, companies equipped with SpeedGauge have saved as much as 15 percent on insurance premiums across an entire fleet.
How important is the role of telematics currently throughout the insurance market space?
It's still early. There is lots of talk and experimentation.
How can telematics solutions add value for insurance companies?
In the near term, we see this as a customer acquisition opportunity. There are early adopter fleets that have telematics hardware installed and are receptive to hearing an insurance pitch that gives them value for that investment.
Telematics vendors are also eager to use insurance ROI as they sell hardware. In our experience, a fleet’s investment in telematics safety solutions goes along with good corporate fleet safety culture and many other traits that make for good insurance customers.
Beyond customer acquisition, there is clearly an opportunity to understand and measure risk at so many levels. We’re having fun exploring some of those issues now with our partners.
What can telematics solutions offer fleets and their drivers?
In the commercial vehicle space there are myriad benefits, starting with productivity gains and customer service gains and extending to improved driver work experience.
For example, we now see drivers practically insisting on electronic (i.e., telematics-based) hours or service logs instead of the old-style paper log books.
How do you view the role of auto OEMs in the Insurance Telematics arena?
In the commercial fleet space, we see fleets wanting a single telematics solution and believe they will continue to favor a productivity and operations-focused solution over an insurance-centric solution.
When it comes to providing that productivity and operations-focused telematics solution, aftermarket solutions will remain strong because fleets are still looking for highly differentiated solutions.
In the face of consolidation among telematics providers, we continue to see the emergence of many new entrants. OEMs can play a role in making installation and activation of these solutions easier but we are still a long way from a one-size-fits-all telematics solutions that would play to OEMs’ strength.
Where do you see the Insurance Telematics Industry heading in the next 5 years?
At a minimum, telematics will be like smoke detectors and alarms in a home owner’s insurance policy.
With telematics, an insurer knows when and where a vehicle is being driven. What insurer wouldn’t want to know that?
For more on the Insurance Telematics market, join the sector’s key players at Insurance Telematics USA 2011  on September 8-9 in Chicago.