Connectivity in cars may not be a new concept, but drivers have been slow to warm to the connectivity offered by telematics. Despite insurers’ best efforts to promote its adoption, drivers dislike the idea of being monitored and are distrustful of what insurers might do with the data.
What if a driver slightly exceeds their agreed mileage limit with an insurer or has an accident on the way home from the pub… even if they were drinking orange juice? Given the general sense of mistrust on the part of drivers, the government has a role to play in clarifying how telematics data might be used.
The current advantages of telematics underwhelm consumers. Many insurers trumpet the location-based services available via GPS, but these offer little that is new. Alerts from local garages offering cheap petrol or nearby points of interest have been available on mobile phones for years. While telematics offer the driver information about maintenance, vehicle efficiency and can alert emergency services immediately after a crash, these benefits alone are unlikely to convince the privacy conscious.
That is why insurers have largely parked mass-market telematics in the “too difficult to handle” box. The development of connected and driverless cars has reignited their interest, but they are still not the best placed to drive the adoption of telematics.
This is where car manufacturers could make the difference. They can install systems that stream info-tainment channels to the kids in the back, or audio and in-car communication systems to adults in the front. In addition, they can track fuel economy or send data to insurers. This combined package goes some way to appeasing consumers who are anxious about monitoring. Although carmakers have signed a voluntary code not to share data obtained from connected cars, they can still use it, in-house, to help in product development.
It remains unclear what customers will demand in exchange for their data – whether that be a connected audio system or some other incentive around, say, price. Such a value exchange will form the bedrock of any connected data offering to consumers in the near future.
Until consumers can place a tangible benefit on handing over their data, the use of telematics may well falter.