I was in Chicago last week for Insurance Telematics 2012 and listened to presentations from about two dozen speakers on how telematics and usage-based insurance will affect both the commercial lines and personal lines of insurance. Here’s a sampling of quotes from the conference.
1) “Don’t overspend on the initial infrastructure. Devices are a tool, not the solution.”
This came from Robin Harbage, a director at Towers Watson, in his keynote address. The advice is pretty straightforward; developing a strategy for UBI needs to be the first step for carriers, not a trip around the software bar.
2) “Know your customers; know your market; know your abilities; know the ecosystem.”
The quote is attributed to Nate Bryer, new product development manager for Allstate Insurance, in describing the four A’s that he feels can lead to the successful use of UBI: Assemble, Assess, Aim, and Act.
3) “The 2011 Ford Taurus has 10 million lines of code written in it.”
The amount of code written for new cars, according to Dave Chronowski, product manager for Ford Connected Services, dwarfs that of vehicles—think rockets here—that you might think need a little more firepower under the hood than a mid-sized sedan. With all that data readily available, it seems a shame not to get your hands on it.
4) “The human mind treats a new idea the way the body treats a strange protein; it rejects it.”
OK, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Peter Medawar wasn’t at the telematics conference (he’s been dead for 25 years), but Jim Stephens, a market analyst with the Illinois Department of Insurance, borrowed the quote and substituted the words “human mind” with the word “regulator” to get his point across about the need for insurers to work closely with regulators before introducing new ideas on underwriting.
5) “Neither use is easier, but the challenges are completely different.”
Jim Noble, senior risk engineering consultant with the Zurich risk engineering group, addressed the question of UBI in commercial lines products as opposed to personal lines. There’s value for both, but not a lot of similarities.
And here’s a bonus quote from Joe Armeni, vice president of insurance carrier solutions for technology provider Evogi: “By 2019, one-third of all U.S. vehicles will be insured using UBI. Compare [UBI] to the use of credit scoring in underwriting: those who waited were left behind. The next two years are critical.”
You should expect such predictions at a conference focused specifically on a single form of technology. Certainly there’s no way of knowing for sure what will happen seven years from now, but there seems to be little doubt that UBI is a breakthrough in underwriting for automobile coverage.