The Future of the Connected – and Safe – Vehicle

by Peter Byrne

This article is the second in a two-part series.

A term that is very familiar in the insurance industry is first notice of loss, or FNOL. This is the process through which an insurance provider is informed of an accident involving one of their policyholders. The process requires the policyholder to contact her/his insurance provider either via phone or online form to report the accident after the fact. Telematics vendors are focused on creating an automated FNOL procedure that improves this claims process for both the insurance providers and the policyholder, whose initial concern is not getting a claim promptly filed when s/he’s been injured or her/his car has just been totaled.

With a reliable crash reporting system, FNOL can be fully automated. One example of such a system is CalAmp’s Instant Crash Notification (ICN). Notifications stream from vehicle to user in seconds via SMS, email, and API without the need for the driver, or a call center. The service automatically notifies a driver’s stakeholders (e.g., family members, employer, etc.) when a crash occurs, enabling the system to alert the authorized list of recipients even when the driver can’t. However, one of the keys to an effective crash reporting system is the ability to reliably discriminate true crash events from non-crash related “noise” caused by road hazards, potholes, speed bumps, and door slams, which is why telematics vendors continue to make improvements to raise the reliability of their crash reporting systems as high as possible- lest the automated FNOL world go the way of the car alarm. CalAmp’s ICN system is notable in this respect, with its 99% overall system reliability, which the company believes is best in the telematics aftermarket.

Another critical benefit of an automated crash reporting system is the ability to detect the severity of a crash and alert and dispatch emergency responders when necessary. This scenario played out earlier this year when a vehicle testing the ICN system was in a severe accident, and the driver’s family members were alerted of the incident within seconds. When family members reached out to the driver and were unable to reach her, they were able to contact local police and confirm a reported accident in the area of the location coordinates provided by the crash reporting system. The end result was that all parties were taken to the hospital, treated and released with no major injuries, and the driver’s family was able to track the activity surrounding the accident based on the critical information reported by the crash reporting system, including:

  • Event location (with street address)
  • Date & time stamp
  • Accident severity range, from very light to heavy

A reliable, automated crash reporting system serves two important functions: providing a sense of safety and security for users while also improving insurance claims management efficiency. As a standalone connected car service or integrated synergistically with other connected car applications, automated crash reporting systems offer benefits to a broad set of users, including consumers and insurers, but also fleet managers, vehicle leasing, and finance companies with high-value vehicle assets.

The Future of the Connected Vehicle
Research firm McKinsey estimates that connected cars could account for 22 percent of all vehicles on the road by 2020, up from 10 percent in 2015. Currently, connected car technology is divided between approaches that put the internet connection in the car and those relying on a secondary device, such as handheld GPS or smartphone. According to BI Intelligence, embedded connections have the advantage in the long run, as they offer two advantages to carmakers. They enable auto companies to collect data on a vehicle’s performance and remotely send updates to vehicles, avoiding recalls related to the car’s software. For the consumer, embedded connections don’t require a phone’s data plan to operate, and consumers can gain access to a wider variety of connected car features and data.

Telematics vendors will continue to partner with automobile industry stakeholders – such as car manufacturers, distributors, and insurers – to provide desirable feature packages with flexible payment options in order to get consumers with vehicles across the spectrum of price points to take advantage of connected car options. In addition, crash reporting systems will be just one of many value-added services geared toward improving claims efficiencies. Other services will include real-time vehicle damage repair estimates and bodily injury prediction, which will allow emergency responders and law enforcement agencies to provide better service within their communities as well as insurers to triage damaged vehicles in the field more efficiently. So while we can all look forward to the day when our children don’t need to learn how to parallel park, we can also take comfort in knowing that they will also be a whole lot safer being behind the wheel in a connected universe.

Peter Byrne is vice president, Business Development, Insurance Telematics at CalAmp Corp.

This article is the second in a two-part series. Read the first part here.


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