Insurance Edge caught up with Andy Haynes, Simon Boakes and Jon Sinclair from the Viaduct
Group recently, to find out why they believe that connected car insurance and telematics data is the
Viaduct are involved in bringing the ThingCo Theo gadget to market and the enormous potential
that devices like Theo offer in terms of helping customers drive safely, data, enhanced FNOL, not to
mention increased customer contacts, are immense.
IE; Car insurance has been very much a price-driven, comparison sort of TPF&T or Fully Comp
offer, but it is changing fast. What factors are changing that mindset and how did Viaduct get
involved with ThingCo?
AH: I was the co-founder of Insure The Box with Mike Brockman of ThingCo. In many ways, we
were the pioneers of telematics based car insurance, which was then very much aimed at younger
drivers and getting them on the road at a reasonable cost and reducing road accidents. We identified
up-front the merit of offering a limited mileage policy on the price comparison sites when we could
measure mileage and our competitors could not.
We developed top-up miles and encouraged safe driving through bonus miles. This type of
telematics policy has gradually evolved to the point where two things have happened at the same
time; technology has taken a big leap ahead as regards the actual devices, and the pandemic has
flattened annual mileage for a huge number of drivers – of all ages.
This is why the time is right for disrupting the market again, no question about it.
IE; One thing that struck me about watching the recent Little Theo test day at Rugby was how
immediate the in-car voice response was after the minor incident – in a few seconds the device is
asking you if you need help, that is another thing that’s really changed the market in telematics
AH; Definitely. It’s about insurers and brokers now having the chance to really be on the side of the
driver with interactive technology, not just selling a black box. From when we first devised accident
intervention we were keen to highlight the benefits of this type of proposition and itis a huge shift in
the insurer-customer relationship.
What it means is that by offering a dynamic accident intervention, your brand becomes a real
support for the customer just when the customer needs it after the distressing experience of a car
accident. As far as we know nobody else does this using the added benefits of video and voice other
than ThingCo – which is what makes it tremendously exciting.
IE; Simon you came into insurance from the energy sector?
SB: Well yes in a roundabout way, I helped set-up Utilita who were the pioneers in the Smart Meter
market, back then no-one had heard of a Smart Meter. I moved into insurance and then joined
Insure The Box, (ITB), I like innovative disruptive businesses. ThingCo is something that naturally
evolved from that experience at ITB. The way that data can be used now from connected cars is
really exciting and offers a huge range of possibilities to insurers. Now there are issues like consent
on sharing data to consider of course, but the selling of crossover services, as well as expanded
rescue or FNOL add-ons, is all there.
IE: Jon – You are the Chief Compliance and Data Protection Officer for Viaduct – what are the main
challenges for you where customer data is concerned?
JON SINCLAIR; Data protection is something that both Viaduct and consumers care passionately
about, but equallythere is a chance here for consumers to benefit from a device that can save lives,
or defuse a serious incident where say a family member is attempting to drive away in a distressed
state. Consent is crucial, but if we can demonstrate that lives can be saved using this technology
then that consent is far more likely to be given by the policyholder.
AH; In the past insurers saw the black box as a curfew device and sometimes young drivers would
rush home to beat the curfew and might have an incident as a result of that. Theo actually looks at
the whole picture, not just night driving, so the overall driver score becomes far more important. In
the end, you can’t keep selling your product as a Big Brother gadget, constantly watching on
people. You have to offer a partnership via technology, that’s what it’s all about with Theo and
IE; Has ThingCo any feedback on the ROI for insurers and brokers in the motor market?
JS; Initial data from Theo suggests that we will be looking at a 30% reduction in loss ratio because
of the ADAS features and dynamic feedback. We have since commissioned an independent
actuarial study using industry data and road traffic data to validate this and believe these numbers
are realistic.With Theo we provide constant feedback to the driver on their driving and provide tips
on how to encourage them to drive safely so we are reducing the risk of serious accidents and
injuries, as well as saving lives – a societal benefit that is only good for our industry.
AH; Every insurer has to deal with price comparison sites right now, but after Covid-19 many
people have drastically reduced their annual mileage. What does that mean for the future? Well it
means you can offer a base mileage, with a roll-over of miles as a flexible feature of the policy. In a
way, this is car insurance that’s self-service; the policyholder is managing their own cover, doing
MTAs themselves via app portal, upping or reducing the level of cover etc.
IE; There is a big value – perhaps underestimated by many in car insurance – in having a more indepth relationship with the customer isn’t there?
SB; Yes, we do things like league tables of driver scores for colleagues or families, so it makes a
game of being the best safest driver. Who doesn’t like to be thought of as a good driver? Most
people actually want to set a good score and gradually improve, it is quite engaging.
AH; The other aspect is rewards beyond cheaper premiums. We can say to the top scoring drivers,
`well done, you took notice of the 2 hour driver alertness warning, so have a free coffee on us.’
Things like that go a long way with people, because it isn’t what they are used to from an insurance
As you personalise the experience you stand a great chance of building true customer loyalty. That
really matters at renewals time.
IE; Thanks for the latest insights, and good luck with Theo.