The Future of Auto Insurance & Big Data

For those who are regular users of social media, the phrase, “privacy is dead” is nothing new. In the auto insurance industry, ways of assessing auto insurance quotes is taking a page from the books of Google, Facebook, and other platforms: they are beginning to aggregate data about how we drive to determine what our rates ought to be, whether they should stay the same or not, and much more.

With new technology that tracks driver behaviors, insurance companies are able to get a much clearer picture of what kind of risk they are taking on a “driver by driver” basis rather than just going with simple demography like age and gender. While the actual technology, telematics, is more than a decade old, its use as a way to determine insurance cost assessments is relatively new. Progressive was the first to create marketing campaigns explaining the value of using telematics. With well-loved and popular character, “Flo” making fun cameos in commercials daring drivers to use the technology, more and more people are deciding to take the leap into the world of telematics, which works by plugging in right under the dashboard of nearly any car.

But there are still drivers who are leery about using the technology, fearful that revealing their ways on the road will actually increase rather than decrease their auto insurance rates. Many of these motorists are pleasantly surprised to find out that most who are willing to plug in telematics devices are rewarded with handsome discounts—some as much as 15 percent of what they would have paid otherwise based on other more generic information about their age, gender, and driving record.

Telematics devices collect data about how fast a motorist drives, how quickly they take corners, how often they hit the brakes and how hard, as well as how many miles are being driven on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. In truth, the use of telematics devices such as the one Flo touts so highly in Progressive commercials are well on their way to being the rule rather than the exception. Many auto insurance companies will not only be offering the telematics option in the future—they may well be demanding it.


Age and Auto Insurance

Car insurance companies make it no secret that one of the most important variables they consider when quoting a new customer an insurance rate is the age of the driver. This isn’t just a consideration for teens and younger drivers who have a higher propensity to speed or be involved in roadway accidents—it is also an important factor for creating a car insurance quote for aging drivers.

However, there is a huge disparity that actually works in favor for senior drivers, who are clearly getting far less dinged than fledgling drivers between the ages of 16 and 18, who pay three to four times more for car insurance than their 65-70 year-old counterparts. Nonetheless, there are always ways to lower the cost of car insurance, even when age is working against motorists on either end of the spectrum.

One of the best ways to lower the potential insurance rate younger or aging drivers will be quoted for all manner of coverage is to simply shop around. While State Farm, GEICO, and a few other big names were found to generally offer lower rates for drivers young and old alike, rates are going to vary. Hitting every base with every insurance company may sound like a taxing ordeal, but overall in the end, it could save hundreds of dollars a year for motorists seeking all levels of coverage from liability to collision, and more.

Don’t be scared to ask for discounts and/or lowered rates based upon a good driving record or low incidence of traffic tickets, especially if you are a senior driver or if you fall into any other “high risk” group. If you are dealing with a small or local insurance company, they may try to use your age alone as an excuse to charge more for car insurance. But if you have verifiable proof that you have not had any accidents or tickets in a significant amount of time, you could appeal to their better senses and receive a lower rate.

Younger drivers may fare well as additions to parents’ existing insurance policies, especially when mom and/or dad already have a well established account as well as great driving records that indicate taking on a new member of the family may not be as high risk as the insurance company may try to initially suggest.

Shop around, do your homework, and don’t settle for less protective insurance just because it’s a few dollars cheaper. And especially with novice drivers, don’t opt in to a plan that has an outrageous deductible—this could easily create a financial nightmare that can leave you wondering why you have been paying insurance in the first place. Get the best deals on the insurance coverage you need without compromising—you never know what the future may hold, and that’s exactly what insurance is for!


Driving Tips For Seniors

Among those in the senior demographic, there has always been a tacit understanding when it comes to operating a vehicle. While many aging motorists understand they are taking more risks behind the wheel due to diminishing vision, hearing, and even issues such as progressive arthritis, it’s difficult for them to let go of the independence they have had all their lives.

Relinquishing the right to drive means letting go of a lot more than just driving—it means leaning on friends and family to get things done for you—something that many older drivers just aren’t ready to do, even when deteriorating vision and motor skills suggest they should. There’s no way around the empirical data: research tells us that senior drivers are at a higher risk of causing accidents.

What’s more, because of potential health issues that younger drivers usually don’t face, the insurance claims for these aging drivers come with heftier price tags. For this reason, it is extremely common for insurance companies to increase the premiums that elderly drivers have to pay to stay on the road. It may seem unfair and even discriminatory, but the facts don’t lie; no matter how much both senior drivers and their families may not want to face them. Unfortunately, in most cases, drivers over the age of 70 are less likely to voluntarily engage in conversations about their declining ability to drive as well as they did in years past. However, research and polling indicates that when the conversation is initiated by children, spouses, and other friends and family, senior drivers oftentimes have an easier time coming to grips and loosening the reigns on their desire to continue driving.

There is definitely a difference between being an older driver and being a driver who is incapacitated in other ways, and for this reason, many senior motorists feel they are being unfairly lumped into a category of “disabled” drivers when this is not necessarily the case. With nearly 50 percent of drivers over 65 suggesting that other forms of transportation are not an option for them and that they fear their lives could become more sedentary without the ability to get where they want to go, it’s easy to understand why giving up driving is a big deal.

To curb the need to quit driving sooner, senior drivers can engage in simple activities to ensure they are still safe drivers. Having a family member go on a “ride along” every so often to help determine driving skills are still good and engaging in driver safety classes are just two excellent ways aging motorists can help decide when it’s time to let go of the wheel.


Delaware Introduces Electronic Insurance Cards

electronic insurance cards delawareDrivers in the state of Delaware have a new legal right when it comes to proof of auto insurance—the right to prove they have insurance and that it is up to date by using their smartphones. For the most part, this will be accomplished via insurance company apps available through the Google Store for Android phones, and the iTunes app store for iPhones. In House Bill 258 w/HA 1, Delaware law has been transformed—any officer pulling over a driver must now accept proof of insurance on a cell phone if available.

For those motorists who are fearful that this could mean police officers would then also have the right to search a phone or sort through texts, emails, and social media apps, these fears can be laid to rest. This passed House Bill for the state of Delaware strictly provisions the use of the phones to show proof of insurance, and officers may not use the phones to obtain any other data, under the new law.

With nearly every major insurance company offering apps for their services, this is quite the final boon to prove the trend of creating such apps was just a trend. More states will soon follow suit, no doubt, leaving insurance companies and their clients more at ease.

The use of smartphones to provide proof of insurance in Delaware will also reduce the numbers of tickets caused by the issue of having insurance but simply not having proof of insurance in the vehicle itself—a common problem for many. Taxpayers, courts, judges, and motorists alike will appreciate less time and money being spent on those having to show up to court just to walk in with an insurance card that was in the wrong purse or a wallet left at home.

The basic premise is that those who purchase car insurance are no longer living in an era where paper proof of anything is the big idea. Almost everything in our world—on the road or off—is on email, apps, social media, texts, or other modes of electronic communication. Delaware has surely helped to set a precedent for auto insurance, and we can expect more smartphone friendly proof of insurance laws to be passed in the near future across the US.

Google’s Builds Self-Driving Car Without Steering Wheel or Brakes

google self driving car
There seems to be a trend or theme going on when it comes to innovative car technology—and we aren’t complaining about it. Google has been working on a car project that offers something many motorists and commuters have long awaited—a car that drives itself.

Who hasn’t thought about what it might be like if their car would just drive itself to work, school, to run errands, and get the kids to the soccer field? Think of all the other things you could do while driving: eat breakfast, read the news, answer emails, catch up on your haiku writing or Facebook community page, and so on. Google has built three first iterations of compact cars that drive themselves. Though it might sound like a radical idea, the tech company is aiming for the improvement of road safety and the advancement of mobility for millions of people who drive and ride every day.

The plan to create these cars from scratch is a brand new evolution for Google that has inspired the company to take it to the next level. Driverless technology is no longer a thing of the past—now we can finally look to a future of seriously smart cars that might not be as far off as we thought.

Google has always been a zeitgeist, coming up with innovative and original technologies that actually work. In fact, the company plans to set in motion 100 driverless cars by next year. Not only do these cars steer, accelerate, and brake themselves, they are all-electric. What better way to appeal to an intelligent consumer than to cater to their environmentally sensitive core ethos?

Though these first 100 cars won’t be available to the public, select people will be chosen to help with further testing and adjusting. In order to make it happen, the electric cars rely on a synthesis of sensors, cameras, and GPS to operate. For the time being, the vehicles only go as fast as 25 miles per hour.

It will be several more years before Google can integrate their driverless cars into the “real world.” This won’t stop our excitement to learn more about the advances of the driverless car—a truly auto-piloted mode of transportation. So buckle up, and get ready for the most futuristic and practical transportation modes of our time.

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