Cash-course in good driving

Free State drivers are among the best in South Africa, followed, surprisingly, by Gauteng. But Western Cape drivers leave a lot to be desired and, yes, women are better drivers than men. This is according to Discovery Insure, which has collected data in the past five months on its customers’ individual driving habits.

Discovery Insure, the short-term insurance arm of Discovery Holdings, was launched in June and brought to the market a tracking device that is fitted to customers’ vehicles and tracks their driving behaviour. By collecting data from the device, which monitors the speed, acceleration, braking and cornering of a car every five seconds, Discovery Insure is able to compile a picture of the driving style of its customers. The drivers then receive a rating based on that, which in turn entitles them to rewards as part of VitalityDrive. The rewards include cash back on fuel purchases at BP, travel rewards and benefits as a Discovery credit-card holder.

Deon du Rand, executive director at C-Track Digicore, which developed the DQ-Tracker for Discovery, said traditional tracking devices monitor only the car’s whereabouts, which is only 15% of the insurers’ risk, as theft accounts for only 15% of insurance claims. Individual driving behaviour accounts for 48% of road accidents, road conditions for 8%, car roadworthiness for 9% and pedestrians for a massive 34%. Although there is not much a driver can do about road conditions and unruly pedestrians, if an insurer can monitor driving behaviour and encourage drivers to improve their driving style with incentives there could be a significant reduction in claims.

Direct insurer MiWay introduced a similar device in 2009. But the technology has been developed further and real-time feedback is available, so drivers can log on to the Discovery Insure website to track their own driving behaviour.

Unlike MiWay, which offers lower premiums if you drive prudently for six months or hikes your rates if you don’t, Discovery Insure works purely on an incentive basis by offering rewards, not discounts. Discovery argues that by giving people incentives on a monthly basis — providing cash rewards linked to fuel purchases — it is easier to keep their clients focused on their driving habits. Every month drivers go back to neutral and have to earn their driving points.

Discovery has also developed a BlackBerry application that allows drivers to draw up a full accident report and submit it immediately from their phone. They are asked to take photographs and take down details of the scene, the other driver and witnesses. The application captures the GPS co-ordinates and time of the incident. In this way the claim could be processed before the tow-truck arrives. An iPhone application will be available in the new year.

Drivers can also opt for a device that tracks business and personal travel distances and draws up a travel logbook for tax purposes, which has been approved by the South African Revenue Service.

Discovery Insure has signed up 7 000 policies and has tracked 8 300 cars more than five months, providing 14-million kilometres of data. To date they have provided 1.15-million litres of petrol discounts.

Although the marketing blurb states that a driver can earn up to 40% back on fuel purchases at BP, the basic reward is 10% on fuel spend. Drivers have to complete a Tiger Wheel & Tyre annual multipoint check to boost it to 25% and use their Discovery credit card to get an extra 15%. But drivers can transfer the cash rewards to the Excess Funder account to cover excesses in the case of an accident. Discovery matches the driver rand for rand, effectively increasing his or her reward to 80%.

Caught out
If you are worried about the driving habits of your teenage son, you should be. Take the case of an 18-year-old whose parent’s insured his Citi Golf through Discovery Insure. After receiving an SMS alert saying her son had been in an accident, his mother called Discovery Insure to complain that it was false as her son had returned unharmed.

After checking the data, it turned out that her son had driven over a speed hump at 50km/h and had gone airborne. It also showed his other racetrack tendencies, such as excessive acceleration and sharp cornering — a good reason for you to fit one of these devices to your child’s car.

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Maya Fisher French
Guest Author

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