There are basically three types of prospects for telematics-driven, usage-based auto insurance programs, depending on how comfortable they are with carriers monitoring their driving performance in return for a potential premium discount.

Indeed, a survey earlier this year by Deloitte exploring consumer use of mobile devices in financial services identified a trio of segments among the 2,193 respondents, with the research pool representing a wide variety of demographic groups in terms of age and income, and split evenly on gender:

  • Eager Beavers—A little over one-in-four said they would allow such monitoring, without stipulating any specific discount in return.
  • Fence-Sitters—The same percentage of respondents were a bit more cautious, noting they might get on board if the price was right, given a discount high enough to make telematics monitoring worth their while.
  • Naysayers—A little fewer than half said they would not be interested in having their driving monitored under any circumstances, at least for the time being.

Among those open to the idea of telematics monitoring, about one in five would expect a discount of 10% or less, with the vast majority of that segment anticipating a range of 6% to 10%. About half would expect between 11% and 20% (with the bulk of this group anticipating between 11% and 15%). Nearly one-third of respondents think they’d be entitled to discounts over 20%.

When broken down by various demographic factors, age was by far the most significant differentiator:

  • Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed between 21 and 29 were willing to give usage-based insurance (UBI) a go, compared to 44% for those 60 or older.
  • More than twice as many in the 21-to-29 age category than in the 60-or-older group (35% versus 15%, respectively) would say yes to telematics without stipulating a particular discount.
  • This trend was somewhat less pronounced but still evident when comparing respondents under 30 to those in the 46-to-59 segment, among whom only 24% would allow monitoring without knowing in advance how much they would save.
  • Younger respondents were also less likely to expect a discount of over 20% (26% of the under-30 crowd compared to 38% of those between 46 and 59). 

Income was not as big of a differentiating factor as we anticipated. One might expect those with less discretionary funds to place a bigger emphasis on how much they would save on their auto insurance premiums by signing onto a UBI program. Yet in fact only about 30% of those in the lowest income segment (below $50,000) said the size of a UBI discount would determine whether they would allow their driving to be monitored.

While gender didn’t make a major difference in whether a respondent would allow insurers to monitor their driving, women surveyed did generally expect a higher discount for doing so, with 59% anticipating a rate break of 16% or higher (including 34% who expect over 20%), compared to 48% among men (with 28% looking for a discount of 20% or higher).

What are the implications?

Looking at the big picture, with about half of the respondents in this survey indicating that usage-based insurance may not be for them—at least not for the moment—a bifurcated market could develop, with those who choose not to be monitored representing a separate class of drivers. Serving these “naysayers” may eventually become a specialty market niche as the use of telematics continues to grow.

However, even though a significant consumer segment appears to be ready, willing, and able to at least test drive UBI programs today, that doesn’t mean the road to achieving growth and profitability through telematics is going to be without potholes, detours, and other potential hazards.

In our next blog for this series, “Overcoming Speed Bumps on the Road to Telematics,” we’ll explore how carriers might differentiate themselves with usage-based programs.