TU talks to Dave Huber, vice president insurance telematics, GMAC, about how carriers with telematics-based products can become more profitable than the rest of the industry
What does your company/department do?
GMAC Insurance Personal Lines Group is one of the largest automobile insurers in the United States. GMAC Insurance Personal Lines Group offers property and casualty products, including personal auto, RV, motorcycle, commercial auto and more. With a nationwide network of claims professionals and a 24-hour, toll-free claims hotline available 365 days a year, GMAC Insurance provides superior claims service for its customers.
What is your role in the insurance telematics market?
As vice president of insurance telematics, my role is to develop and communicate a roadmap and implement strategies using technology to allow GMAC Insurance to stay connected with our customers and their cars. Telematics provides the platform to do just that.
How important is telematics throughout the insurance market space?
It has the potential to provide significant segmentation and pricing advantages to the early adopters. Insurance telematics might accelerate consolidation among the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in the marketplace. And it could also bring a renewed and welcome focus on safety and safer driving.
What is needed for the large-scale success of PAYD/usage-based insurance?
Despite moving in the right direction, costs are still a barrier. Capturing enough driving data to build actuarially justified pricing models takes time and money (and patience). IP may have some carriers hesitating. Getting the word out about work-arounds and patent traps will serve as a catalyst for the industry.
Which trends will impact the industry the most in the coming years and why?
Obviously, embedded telematics could affect the economics and customer experience. I said ‘could’ because it’s not clear the OEMs are listening and creating an open platform to collect and exchange driving data. Meanwhile, the smartphone will have a role to play—mating with OBD devices, collecting and processing data, serving as the data transfer conduit, and even acting like a hand-held taxi meter and payment device.
How do you view the role of auto OEMs in the insurance telematics arena?
They have a big role to play. They’ll always lag on the technology front because of lead-times, but you could imagine an OEM stepping into the safe driving and insurance discussions while facilitating those conversations with their customers.
Where do you see the insurance telematics industry heading in the next five years?
Half of the new business sold in the US in five years will voluntarily select an insurance policy whose premium is determined in some way by how, when and/or where they drive. Carriers with telematics-based products will be more profitable than the rest of the industry. Texting-and-driving will carry the same stigma as drinking-and-driving, but will have better/safer alternatives. And you’ll be able to buy your usage-based car insurance from a menu on a personalized, in-vehicle telematics platform on your new 2017 vehicle.
For more on insurance telematics, join the sector’s other key players at Insurance Telematics USA 2011 on September 8-9 in Chicago and Telematics Munich 2011 on November 9-10.