Safety First: Travelers’ Telematics Program Looks to Control Risks

Sometimes, just having access to good data is all a business needs. At least that’s how Travelers Insurance views its telematics program, IntelliDrive Fleet Safety Solutions for its commercial lines.

“We want to be there to help them make good decisions, augment their risk control program, and ultimately make them a safer fleet,” says Chris Hayes, risk control director of transportation services for Travelers.

Many fleets insured by Travelers began the movement into telematics on their own, according to Hayes. In turn, Travelers sought a greater understanding of why fleets were moving into this space. Travelers found there was no simple answer, though.

“For the tens of thousands of fleets we insure we found everyone seemed to have a different need,” says Hayes.

Among the reasons fleets use telematics are better logistics, engine information, their maintenance program, and for fuel economy.

“Ultimately we found most had some capability to provide information on safety, whether it was through measurements of harsh braking or speeding or a number of different factors,” says Hayes. “If our insureds are moving to a place where they are adopting this technology for some particular operational need, we’d like them to move to an area where they can use it for safety as well.”

Travelers reaches out to their customers quite often through the risk control department, according to Hayes, but the insurer has no intention of downloading the driving information directly out of the devices.

“What we’re looking for is an understanding of how fleets are taking data from these devices and building it into their safety programs,” he says.

In the past, a key indicator of how a driver performed was to examine their motor vehicle record, according to Hayes.

“When we would consult with customers and look at their safety programs one of the key indicators was how the fleet could take that MVR data and turn it into a coaching moment or into an employment decisions about the driver,” says Hayes.

Today, Travelers has similar conversations with their customers, but this time around telematics.

“Our customers get more robust data from the telematics devices,” says Hayes. “We are there to help them make better decisions using that information.”

Travelers wants fleet operators to understand there is rich data involved with many of the telematics devices on the market today.

“Fleets need to understand what data is pertinent for them and to understand the risks associated with their fleet and drivers and then find ways to improve performance,” he says.

For Travelers, knowing a fleet operator is using telematics makes it easier to make decisions on risk assessment, which plays a role in how an underwriter views an account.

“Safety programs can drive down losses and we see this as another piece of the puzzle,” says Hayes.

Travelers does not push its fleet customers toward any particular telematics system, according to Hayes. In fact, in the risk assessments Travelers hasdone with insurers over the last 18 to 24 months, the carrier has seen well over 100 different telematics systems in place, according to Hayes.

“Some are simple devices you can plug directly into your car and some involve much more labor-intensive installation,” he says.

One of the misunderstandings around telematics, points out Hayes, is the technology is only for heavy truck fleets, but the carrier insures fleets with personal autos and the telematics devices are in place to successfully understand those risk exposures as well.

“Our approach is since there are so many systems on the marketplace and so many different customer needs for using telematics, we’d like to be in a place where we can help any customer,” he says. “Our focus is on helping customers understand the technology available, the potential for that technology, and incorporating it into their safety programs. We find a good telematics program is a safety program that uses technology, not just a technology program.”

Beth S. Tirone, senior director for commercial auto product development at the Travelers, reports seeing a good amount of interest in the program.

“It’s important to understand that companies are putting these devices in for reasons apart from insurance—operational efficiency, fuel reduction, and that sort of thing,” she says. “Equipping their vehicles is happening anyway, so on top of that an awareness of the benefits of safety is just another way they are receiving a benefit.”

Safety is an important issue for all fleets and awareness of safety issues can bring other benefits to fleets.

“One of the reasons Travelers is interested in this technology is not only from a liability standpoint, but from a workers’ compensation standpoint as well,” says Hayes. “Work comp claims associated with motor vehicle accidents are one of our largest sources of losses. We’d like to help our customers reduce their risk compensation exposure as well.”

In the immediate future, Hayes feels Travelers will see increased options among its insureds and a development of industry best practices on the use of this data to incorporate it into a fleet safety program. .

“This is a lot about education,” he says. “These are new steps and as a partner with our insureds we want to be there to help them out.”

 

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