Driving app helps earn discounted insurance

By Mathew Dearnaley

The app will provide a trip summary, including showing on a map where any hard braking may have occurred, and then allocate good behaviour points. Photo / Dean Purcell
The app will provide a trip summary, including showing on a map where any hard braking may have occurred, and then allocate good behaviour points. Photo / Dean Purcell

We all know the benefits of driving safely — and now an insurance company is offering the incentive of reduced premiums.

Tower Insurance has developed an app which monitors and rates a motorist's performance in terms of acceleration, braking and cornering during each trip they make.

After clocking up 250km, motorists are given a rating out of 10. The rating translates into a discount of between 5 and 20 per cent — if their driving is deemed by the SmartDriver app to be smooth enough.

Although Tower's typical premium is $400 to $500 a year, the maximum discount could offer savings of almost $300 for a young woman paying just under $1,500 a year on a 2003 Nissan March, or $118 on a 41-year-old man's $600 premium on a Honda Jazz of the same age.

Drivers need to anchor their phones in cradles or trays while mobile, but do not have to plug them into their vehicles before simply pressing "start" at the beginning of a trip and "stop" at the end.

The 250km must be over at least three journeys.

The app will provide a trip summary, including showing on a map where any hard braking may have occurred, and then allocate good behaviour points.

Tower chief executive David Hancock said the company had no intention of using the new technology to raise premiums or reject accident claims.

"For us it is absolutely focused on incentivising drivers," he told the Herald.

"We are interested in getting people with lower risks, and rewarding them for that."

As for his own driving, he got a score of 7.5 out of 10, which would entitle him to a 10 per cent insurance discount.

Tower customer proposition general manager Mark Savage said drivers applying for discount premiums would receive a redemption code after completing their first 250km with the app.

Although they would be told what level of discount they qualified for, Mr Savage said the company did not intend publicising trigger points for each 5 per cent increment.

"We don't want people to be able to unpick it too much."

Automobile Association spokesman Mike Noon said similar road safety aids were in use overseas.

"Anything that has a road safe focus has got to be good and we want people to consider their driving style," he said last night.

Asked if the AA would have any concerns about its members' privacy, Mr Noon noted that the app was an "opt-in" tool which nobody would be compelled to use.

- NZ Herald

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