A Step Forward for UBI


In many ways, technology is still finding its place in today’s vehicles. It has the ability to connect consumers to the information and the entertainment we desire while on the go, but it also has the ability to collect data about employees’ driving habits for enterprise use. The range of data—and the range of ways to use the data—is encompassing; but among the different value propositions for in-vehicle technology, one underlying theme remains: A desire for safety.

One trend is UBI (usage-based insurance), which leverages data about a person’s driving habits to help set a premium based on that individual. Companies such as Progressive, www.progressive.com, and Allstate, www.allstate.com, among others, are offering (or working toward offering) usage-based rates meant to “reward” drivers for practicing good behavior, such as driving within the speed limit, and avoiding bad ones, such as harsh braking and acceleration.

But what if there was a way to further reward drivers for avoiding distracting behaviors while behind the wheel, such as using a cellphone? A company called Cellcontrol, www.cellcontrol.com, hopes to work with UBI providers to integrate its solution, which helps prevent distracted driving, into insurers’ UBI programs.

The company recently announced the ability to integrate with third-party hardware platforms designed for usage-based insurance. These platforms generally rely on a piece of hardware that plugs into a vehicle’s OBD (onboard diagnostics) port and then uses cellular technology to transmit the data to an insurer’s backend system.

Cellcontrol technology uses Bluetooth to integrate with a vehicle’s onboard electronics to determine whether or not it is in motion, then links to the driver’s mobile device to shut down specific functionalities that can be distracting while behind the wheel, such as texting, talking, Web browsing, or emailing. Because the solution “talks” directly to the vehicle, it can also collect and deliver basic telematics data such as distance, mileage, and speed.

Integrating a solution such as Cellcontrol into a UBI platform could add an additional incentive for drivers to behave responsibly. If an insurance provider offered a discount to those willing to have their device usage tracked and factored into their rate, more drivers may be willing to put their phones down when they drive.

As the use of technology and the educational efforts around distracted driving both continue to gain momentum among businesses and consumers, it’s interesting to think how adoption could be accelerated if the two joined forces. If more tech providers and insurance providers come together to creatively find ways to reward drivers for safe practices, we could see major results on our roadways.

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Connected World Issue
June/July 2014
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