back to article New driver-snooping satnav could push down UK insurance premiums

The idea has been hovering in the ether for some time, but TomTom is the first satnav firm to sign on the dotted line and bring insurance to drivers through their GPS. The Dutch company has joined up with Motaquote insurers to offer UK drivers "Fair Pay" insurance, where customers pay lower premiums because their satnav monitors …

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I wonder how long it will be before someone works out how to drive the car while this is disconnected, creating the impression of someone who uses the car very infrequently.

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people to realise that putting your address as your parents, or that they are the main drivers reduced premiums.

I await with interest, the story about the first muppet that leaves the box at home, and then tries to make a claim when the car was 100 miles away .....

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder how long it will take people to realise that their premiums will continue to rise, only now, when questioned, the call centre drone on the phone will blame the increases on the "mysterious and secret computer algorithm" that "analyses" your driving style and spits out a in increased premium.

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Safe Driving ?

Will it pick up on tailgating, talking/texting or generally not paying attention while driving? Safe driving is more than speed, cornering and braking*.

* Note to article author: It's "brake suddenly" not "break suddenly", unless of course you're driving an Alfa Romeo.

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Jad
Unhappy

Having just had my car written off ...

I can tell you that driving at the speed limit is not always safe, especially at mini roundabouts ... I think he braked before he hit me, but then again, by the time he seemed to notice me he only had about 3 meters in which to do it.

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@BlinkenLights

Absolutely, and this bit is totally crap: "... or have to brake suddenly"

So does that mean if a child runs out in front of me not looking, I get a lower premium for not braking suddenly, even though it means I hit them?

Oh and I hope that TomTom have updated their maps at last. I had to turn off the stupid "you are going too fast alarm" because they had the speed limits wrong in places and it would suddenly say the limit is 30 in the middle of a 60 stretch!

On the other hand, I have been very tempted by the devices that you fit to the car to record your jouneys to use in the event that some plonker drives into the side of you on the motorway (at least he admitted responsibility).

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Anonymous Coward

It wont pick up on the people who manage to smash into your parked car in tescos car park either.

It also wont be able to tell the difference between a relatively safe "spirited drive" in a well maintained sports car driven by a middle aged advanced police driver compared to a 17year old ragging the crap out of a never been serviced 1.2 corsa trying to impress his mates around the A roads.

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Anonymous Coward

"It also wont be able to tell the difference between a relatively safe "spirited drive" in a well maintained sports car driven by a middle aged advanced police driver compared to a 17year old ragging the crap out of a never been serviced 1.2 corsa trying to impress his mates around the A roads."

Won't they? They presumably will know the age and model of car, its location, its speed.

Maybe for their purposes there is not a significant difference beyond that, regardless of driver qualifications (or maybe those will obtain a proportional discount on premiums).

Whatever, it's a commercial venture and if it doesn't convince, don't give it your money.

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Anonymous Coward

They record you exceeding the Speed Limit by 1 mph

... "You were breaking law - you are not covered"

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Joke

And they will base you premiums on....

The moment when you lose signal and then recover it 10 mins later, they record that you broke the speed of light by moving instantaneously through the traffic jam.

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@ DJ 2

"lose signal and then recover it 10 mins later, they record that you broke the speed of light by moving instantaneously"

Umm, 10 minutes or instantaneous, which is it? If you're doing 30mph and lose signal in one place and pick it up 10 minutes later 5 miles away, that's still an average speed of 30mph, not "faster than the speed of light".

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, and based on myunderstanding of insurers

If they can detect you were driving "unsafely" in the 2 seconds before impact (e.g. by braking harshly (FFS!) ) they will instantly un-insure you just before impact so they have an excuse not to pay out,

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Re: Timmay

"If you're doing 30mph and lose signal in one place and pick it up 10 minutes later 5 miles away, that's still an average speed of 30mph"

Only if you drove in a perfectly straight line. Where I live, we have corners.

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Boffin

If you have corners AND drive at 30mph max, then your average over the same time will be LOWER than if you're driving in a straight line.

Say your drive A to B is 2 miles and 10 min, that's 12mph average (you live in London and there is no traffic). The GPS is borked and thinks you drove in a straight line between A and B, 1 mile in 10 min, average speed 6mph average. Ta-da, no premium to be paid.

That said I have had my GPS record me running very briefly at 60mph round a track once, so I do hope there is some sanity-checking in place.

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Anonymous Coward

Sanity checking?

Don't be silly. That wouldn't give them t he out that they want.

"If you have corners AND drive at 30mph max, then your average over the same time will be LOWER than if you're driving in a straight line."

You mean, I CAN'T go around corners and along a straight at the same speed? My car must be better than I thought, as it manages to go around corners without my lifting off - with nary a squeal of tyres or hairy moments.

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Joke

lose signal at point A.

gain signal at point B.

One moment you are at point A, then you are at point B. = distance traveled in 0 time.

or if it worked by using average speed in a straight line, they would get you for driving over fields, into that local pub on the corner, and across the duck pond.

joke because that's what it was originally ;)

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FAIL

oh, that's a beginner's mistake

Mistaking velocity for speed :)

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Boffin

Like all statistical data used by actuaries it will take time to build the data models. Not every driver who drives fast is dangerous. Not every driver who drives smoothly can see properly. It doesn't take account of actual road conditions or driver ability, all factors that can contribute to accidents.

Overall, this will not "push down" premiums. The overall cost of insurance is likely to remain static. What it will do is shift who pays the higher or lower premiums. Not knocking it - just pointing out that actuaries are only as good as the data.

It should be interesting for the EU to comment on why premiums based on the statistics of driving style are OK, but premiums based on the statistics of sex (and soon age) are not OK.

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FAIL

> It should be interesting for the EU to comment on why premiums based on the statistics of driving style are OK, but premiums based on the statistics of sex (and soon age) are not OK.

Because you can do something about your driving-style, but it's impossible to do anything about your age, and not many people would want to do something about their sex just to reduce their premiums.

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Anonymous Coward

I have a cunning plaaaaan...

"Like all statistical data used by actuaries it will take time to build the data models."

Making now the perfect time to get one. If enough people get one fitted and then drive like loons within the law and the statistics will make everyone thereafter look like Mother Theresa.... but alive. Unclassified roads would be ideal for this as they're largely 60mph zones and you'll need to use the brakes and accelerator a lot. Your fuel and tyre consumption will be crap but it would be offset by your insurance a few years down the line.

In case your wondering, this 'plan' comes from someone who's written off* a Micra in a head on crash on a slimy single track road. It was interesting driving a car with a bent chassis the remaining 5 miles home. Got a stiff neck for a couple of days :|

*as in a "Your vehicle is worth sod and it will cost slightly more than sod all to fix it so we've written it off" write off.

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@Velv

Like you say, premiums will not go down. Instead what will happen is that what they deem a safe driver will have their premiums sit where they are (plus the standard 10% increase on renewal) and everyone else's will go up.

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@ Velv 16:41

What's dangerous, Velv, is telling fast drivers they're not always dangerous. It has the effect of making them even more incautious than they already are - and egging on those thinking of driving that way, who aren't already.

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Anonymous Coward

... assuming that they haven't grassed you to the police first

for doing it.

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Anonymous Coward

... or told the hired hitmen

... where to find you

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says:

Will the device know I am driving a Ford Puma and allow for the car's ability to corner with complete safety at a speed that would make a Smart car fall over, and most other cars simply slither into the roadside scenery?

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+1

I do miss my Ford Puma.

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FAIL

That's the exact attitude that's the problem

How does the "car's ability to corner with complete safety at a speed that would make a Smart car fall over" produce X-ray vision to enable you to see the child crossing the road just around the corner? For example.

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Steve Renouf, what makes you believe they're talking about a blind corner? There are plenty of corners that can be safely driven at a speed appropriate to the road conditions and the tolerances of the car without the risk of hitting someone, as the corner is not blocking your line of sight. Such corners would easily topple a Smart (or that ugly, top-heavy range rooney everyone seems to be driving nowadays) but which could easily and safely be navigated at much higher speed by other cars.

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FAIL

[Citation needed]

Why would they topple a Smart?

Do Smarts have any history of toppling? No.

Did they fail the elk test? No.

Do you understand the concept of centre of gravity? No.

Can you see round corners? No, then the corner can block your line of sight.

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Smart cars...

-Short wheelbase

-Thin tyres

-High centre of gravity (proportional to length)

...equals being able to corner safely at legal speeds, and toppling at more. Pretty simple.

And there's a corner in a flat open field: can you see round it? Of course you can!

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FAIL

Wow judging by the voting here, IT professional =/= automotive engineers!

Showing a very basic lack of understanding about how cars perform, and even just driving, if you fail to see why a Ford Puma can corner safely, faster than a Smart Car. It's not actually worth bothering trying to explain if it isn't just strikingly obvious to you. GCSE Physics? CoG? Moments? Friction? Ringing any bells...

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Bronze badge

Erm - only apply if your premium is already >£1000

That's what their quote me thingy said.

Not that I can fathom how the "insurance miles" are calculated / penalised...

I quite like the idea of pay as you go insurance...

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yet another little piece of the puzzle

that will allow interested parties to know where you are and what you are doing at all times.

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Anonymous Coward

yes that was my first thought as well

The Police alredy have access to number plate auto recognition cameras throughout the road network though. I read a story about some guy that drove around the m25 for 2 days as he was lost, they used number plate recognition cameras to locate him after he wa reported missing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police-enforced_ANPR_in_the_UK

I dont really like it but it seems that this is where everything is leading.

On the safety side of things, whilst driving in the snow the other day, i slid down a hill unable to slow down and only just able to control my direction, the bloody hill had a speed camera at the bottom (30mph limit) and i went through it at about 35/40mph which was terrifying (i think, the spedo was not accurate since i had no traction) I''m pretty sure it flashed although i was concentrating quite hard on not crashing.

So when the auto generated ticket comes my way i'm probably going to have to pay it and take the points when i suspect a human police officer would probably understand that i had no choice but to go down the hill faster than anyone would have liked.

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Boffin

Actually...

You write back asking for the photographic evidence. When (if) they send it, you examine the visibility of the license plate (was it snowing?), the road markings (used by experts to determine actual speed of travel if in doubt).

Road markings were covered in snow you say?

And if you don't feel like arguing the technicalities, you always have the option of appealing to a Magistrate, who is a real person, and will likely take such circumstances into consideration.

We should never fear appealing to a court, since that is our right. It is there to protect you, not the establishment; it is the last thing that stops the country from slipping into a police state.

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Anonymous Coward

One wonders if the satnav will penalise you

for blindly obeying its own directions to drive up a dead-end dirt track and off a cliff?

@MarvinOGBF - having worked for a vehicle tracking outfit, the lengths to which 'professional' drivers will go to to disable the equipment foisted on them by the bullshit middle-managers our bullshit sales teams sold to would intrigue and amaze with their resourcefulness. Knowing exactly which low bridge would wipe out the appropriate antenna whilst leaving the rest of the vehicle unharmed was just one example.

@Blinken - and since the system is selective in its application they won't have a suitable random data set to base their calculations on, so what the system deems 'safe driving' is purely speculative. That means they'll be struggling to find an underwriter to genuinely offer lower premiums on the basis of anything other than people who think they're safer drivers coming forward.

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When I was a forklift truck driver the method of choice was to pull the fuse on the speed limiter and shove a fag end in the top of the taco needle slot to stop it reading high.

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Unhappy

Punished?

I think driving off a cliff is a self-punishing activity...

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Big Brother

The Next Step

What happens when all the insurance companies agree to make this a *compulsory* requirement for insuring you?

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Meh

They will

You just know it. Or, charge a massive amount for not doing it.

Nothing to hide? Nothing to fear.

It would be nice if one day insurance companies could afford computers that could count into double digits for no claims years, too. Given the premiums they charge you'd think they could support no claims back to the birth of the Universe by now.

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Bread and...

Mysteriously, many of them wouldn't work properly, and the overall reliability of GPS would go down as cheap jamming devices were sold through dodgy retail outlets.

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"insurance companies could afford computers that could count into double digits for no claims years, too."

Yeh, and managed to sort out the no-claims information they give you at the end of the year and the information they insist on to take out insurance.

Last insurance company I went with would only give an 'over 5 years' type of information at the end of the year, but their insurance quote form insisted on an exact number of years (and would then only allow 5 years if you got an 'over 5 years' statement.)

I have not had a claim for over 10 years, but can now only claim 6 because of this .

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Vic
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> I have not had a claim for over 10 years, but can now only claim 6 because of this .

I sometimes wonder about the whole "no claims" thing.

I had about 15 years accrued without claiming. Strangely, the premium never seemed to go down.

Then I got rid of my car - I did <1000 miles one year, so it just wasn't worth keeping.

I bought a van last year. But because it's been more than 2 years since I last had a policy, all my no-claims bonus is gone. I had to start from scratch.

I'm now driving a much bigger, heavier vehicle from the same manufacturer as my car. I have changed from a SDP policy to a commercial one And I have no NCD. Yet my premium is about the same...

Vic.

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Errr but

How does it know if I've taken the car onto a track? Presumably if buffers stuff & sends it to the SatNav next connection, perhaps if the satnav is on then it knows where you are and disregards data.

Mind you I don't pay anywhere near £1k insurance either, thankfully...

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Pint

You need a satnav on a track? Who are you, James May?

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The GPS logger has to cross-reference your location to a road database to determine the speed limit for your current location. If you are on a private road or on a race track, it should have no entry for the speed limit, and thus not penalise you for doing 70+mph.

Melt - the idea is that once you apply for it, you can not turn the speed recording functionally off, otherwise if you wanted to speed for one journey, you'd just turn it off.

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Colin - it was a joke.

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Anonymous Coward

@The Next Step

It won't be the Insurance Companies that demand it - it will be the Government that does.

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Yeah

On the back of an Insurance Organisation lobby

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Going slowly in th wrong lane

Is it going to notice someone going slowly in the outside lane with a queue of cars zooming past on the inside with the drivers blaring their horns and shaking their fists?

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