The latest development in auto technology to control teen drivers is part of a continuing evolution of vehicles that will increase the sophistication of car insurance underwriting, according to a consultant.
But it won’t happen right away according to Gail McGiffin, Accenture, global underwriting solutions leader, who commented today after Ford’s Monday announcement of its MyKey system allowing parents to set limits on auto speed and radio noise levels.
Her remarks also followed the announcement Monday that the Applied Informatix unit of ISO will work with IVOX and insurance companies to collect and analyze data from telematics devices, which sense vehicle braking and acceleration. The firms said they will assess the predictability of data from such devices for use in rating, underwriting and claims.
In Ms. McGiffin’s view, the application of such technology to auto underwriting, while moving forward, will not arrive until a larger number of the vehicles being driven by U.S. motorists include the new gear.
“I think we are three-to-five years before we see widespread use,” she said.
However, as the convergence of technology and data increases, there will be an increase in the sophistication of insurance pricing in automobile lines, Ms. McGiffin advised.
But right now, she said only a small population of vehicles that have global positioning or telematic units, and that for insurers to use information from such sources in pricing, the availability of data has to be more widespread.
The insurance industry, she explained is looking for data on a much more standardized basis. The Ford announcement, she said is an example of the technology moving into a more standardized stage.
Only a handful of insurers monitor the location of vehicles driven, said Ms. McGiffin and they are evaluating whether the data is valuable in predicting loss.
Eventually, she said, better drivers will be able to prove they are better and save money. Her firm, she said, is advising clients to improve the sophistication of their pricing so they have better alignment between quality of the risk and the pricing.
She said cars can be retrofitted with devices, but there is a question whether people will incur the cost of retrofit. Car owners may have an incentive if they desire to improve their monitoring and behavior of teenage drivers, she said. “The curve of the birthrate and more teen-aged drivers will propel us forward.”
Plenty of people will not want the monitoring technology–”in many cases because they know they are not the better drivers,” Ms. McGiffin said.
Meanwhile, she said the insurance industry is still learning which data elements are important and how they can be linked to loss activity.
The Ford MyKey is due to debut as a standard feature next year on the 2010 Ford Focus. Besides allowing programming of a top speed of 80 and audio volume limits, it has a five-minute chime reminder to buckle safety belts while muting the radio, provides earlier low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 miles per hour, Ford said.