Could Sat-Navs and mobiles be the key to specialist insurance cover?


With more and more drivers installing ‘black box’ video recorders in their cars (to protect themselves against insurance disputes after an accident), The Insurance Blogger thinks the police and insurers may be missing a trick.

It’s long been police practise to seize tachograph data if a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, and that gives the accident investigator a second-by-second history of speed and manoeuvres for the vehicle 

Analysing the data shows a lorry or van moving from lane to lane on a motorway, for instance, and the speed of the vehicle linked in to real time.

Many cars have GPS sat-nav devices in the vehicle that are basically digital tachographs under a different name. Some sat-navs hold this data like the tachograph and can output the data to a computer for analysis.

Recently, some police forces announced that traffic officers would seize mobile phones after accidents to find out if the driver was on a call.

Sat Navs and Specialist Car Insurance

Both sat-navs and phones work under similar principles – triangulation from a satellite or radio mast determines their location.  From here, it’s a simple arithmetic to calculate how fast a car was moving at any given time.

Add a PIN number identifying the driver that locks the car’s electronics so the engine will not start without entry of an approved driver’s code and you have a little black box that polices your speed every second of a journey.

Setting the phone or sat-nav to read the speed limit requires adding a couple of extra columns to the system’s road database.

If insurance companies were really interested in making car insurance cheaper, they could also check the driver’s PIN against the Motor Insurers Database of insured vehicles to root out uninsured drivers.

However a cynical side to The Insurance Blogger suspects that charging motorists up to £30 a year to cover the costs of uninsured drivers is cheaper for insurers than spending some cash to actually solve the problem.

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