For the uninitiated, vehicular telematics is a method that merges telecommunications and information engineering and applies it to road transportation and safety. It records data such as vehicle speed, turning, distance, and driver habits including sudden acceleration, quick braking, and more. Thanks to the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, telematics platforms have advanced significantly over the last year, leveraging smartphone application technology to better connect participating drivers to their vehicles. In layman’s terms, telematics helps you identify good and bad driver behavior so that you can take corrective action.
While this may seem otherworldly to some, telematics has actually been used by insurance companies in Canada since 2013. Since then, the tech has grown to be included in a number of insurers’ product offerings. In 2018, Canadian Underwriter reported on a study that found a loss ratio that was 12% to 18% lower for drivers using telematics versus those who were not, speculating that Canadian insurers could cut auto claims costs by 15% by employing the technology. Fast forward to today, and we find that ICBC is offering BC drivers the opportunity to benefit from telematics via their Techpilot program. Below is everything you need to know.
Why You Might Want to Consider Participating in the ICBC Techpilot Program and What Else You Need to Know
Are You Eligible?
To participate in the Techpilot program, you must meet the following conditions:
- You have received your Class 7N driver’s license within the last four years
- or your combined driving experience (7N and full license) is less than four years
- You have access to a vehicle throughout the duration of your participation, which requires that it be driven a minimum of 1,000 kilometers over one-year duration. You must inform the owner or lessee that you’ll be driving for the Techpilot project, and ICBC will confirm this with them.
- You will also need a smartphone with a data plan and Bluetooth capability (iOS 10 or higher, or Android 6.0 and higher). While this may be the one time that ICBC actually asks you to pick up your smartphones, it’s not a license to use it while driving.
If you meet the above requirements, you can begin the signup process here.
What Happens Once You’ve Been Approved?
Upon approval, a small telematics device will be installed in the vehicle. ICBC will provide you with a link to download the Techpilot app from the Apple App Store or Google Play (as applicable) and from there you will pair the app to the device in your car. The app will walk you through the process so no need to worry if you’re not all that tech-savvy. With your device and smartphone turned on (yet tucked safely away) you will drive distraction-free as important driver data is collected. Please note that all of the information is gathered, stored and used in accordance with the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). You may review the Terms & Conditions here.
How the Techpilot Program Directly Benefits You
The program doesn’t just provide ICBC with insight into how British Columbia residents drive, it helps make you a better driver from the moment you begin participation.
The one-year project divides participants into two groups. One group will be provided with an ongoing score along with feedback about how to improve their driver behavior and can complete challenges to receive rewards. The other group will not receive driver feedback until the end of the project. You may balk at the chance of being placed in the second group and miss out on insight that allows you take immediate corrective action, but note that the mere act of telematics participation makes you more conscious of your habits on the road, which in-turn makes you a better driver.
Participants will also have the chance to receive up to $250 in gift card rewards by completing various driving challenges.
In the end, the program seeks to make you a better driver, which reduces your risk of accidents, injuries, claims, and ultimately premiums (over time). But there’s more – keep reading.
How Telematics Reduces Auto Claims Costs (and maybe your own premiums)
As mentioned above, correcting driver behavior is something that occurs over time, and under the new ICBC rate model which better considers driver history you may not see reduction in premiums for awhile. That said, experts find that telematics programs cut claims costs for insurers in a variety of ways. When claims costs are cut, savings may be passed on to the consumer in the long run. Exactly how are claims costs cut through telematics?
For one, telematics may reduce the cost of adjusting a claim because the claim can be closed much quicker. This is due to the fact that a telematics device knows what is happening with a participating vehicle at any given time, will detect a motor vehicle accident (MVA), and help “reconstruct” the event. This same technology will also discourage motorists involved in an MVA from making fraudulent claims.
ICBC’s Techpilot Program is currently underway. Submit your application today and ICBC will let you know if you qualify.