ThingCo founder and chief executive believes telematics can ‘enhance’ customer relationships and help stamp out fraudulent claims

Although the insurance industry is “significantly behind the game” in the “digital world”, telematics can provide the opportunity for brokers and insurers to build a “much more real-time relationship” with their clients, if used correctly, says Mike Brockman, telematics business ThingCo’s founder and chief executive.  

“There’s a lot of cancellation terms in telematics policies, which can be [perceived] to be negative, if not done in the right way,” he says.  

“If you just send out a cancellation notice on the first little whiff of speeding, let’s say, that’s not going to do that trusted relationship very good and it also might get you into problems with the insurance ombudsmen and potentially the FCA later.  

“So, communication has to be correct and fair, but telematics definitely gives you the opportunity to do that.”  

Reflecting on over 40 years of experience in the industry, Brockman says he committed to being a specialist in this field because he envisioned that “telematics will transform the motor insurance market, like it has never been seen before”.  

He adds: “It’s quite clear that at some point in the future, all cars are connected. Motor manufacturers and insurers have the potential to use that connectivity and technology within a car to deliver insurance in a different way.” 

Telematics learnings 

Comparing learnings between his time at Insurethebox – Brockman’s first telematics company, which he sold to Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Europe (ANDIE) in January 2018 – and now, ThingCo is “very customer-centric” and aims to use “modern-day technologies” as an “enabler, not a barrier”.  

He continues: “The first lesson I’ve learned is to be in control of not just the use of the black box and how you transform that into a product that customers will buy, but the black box or the device itself, because if you’re not in control of that you’re not in control of the data that comes from it, which then dictates what sort of services you can provide. 

“Then, it’s physically using modern data technology to process thousands of pieces of information quickly, efficiently, in real-time and then package that in a way that customers can have value from.”

Brockman states that incentivising customers is key – whether that be through providing a cheaper premium, a free coffee stop while driving, or even as simple as sending an emoji to show that customers’ driving is improving.  

He says: “All of this creates a much closer bond between the customers and the insurer or broker - with traditional insurance, you don’t have a bond.  

“Most people out there, I wouldn’t say hate their insurer, but it’s not going to be their number one loved organisation to deal with because there’s not much interaction. Telematics really changes that.  

“You as an insurer or broker can enhance that relationship through lots of different means – that’s how to improve that customer relationship in a modern way.”  

Fraud prevention 

As well as supporting the ’trusted advisor’ broker strategy, Brockman says that telematics and data can also play a major role in preventing fraudulent claims, whether that be “soft fraud” or “intentional fraud”.  

He explains: “With telematics, you will know with both of those circumstances what really happened.  

“We collect every one second [of] data. 

“We have their location, speed and behaviour, so you can almost simulate what happened to that car before it had the accident.  

“In certain circumstances, we’ve found people doing circuits around the roundabout before waiting for a poor, helpless victim to come along, such as that they could create that accident. 

“If you’ve just looked at the accident, [they] will look like someone who’s gone in the back of him or her.”  

By monitoring driving through data, brokers and insurers can boost premiums or cancel the policy.  

“That sounds a bit like Big Brother is watching you, because it is. What you’re really doing is making sure that the insurer can eliminate all the people that are not playing by the rules in order to give all the honest customers the right premiums they deserve based on their own responsible driving,” he continues.  

“You might not be able to go to court with these tools, but it allows you to identify accidents that have the ingredients of being fraudulent, which means you as the insurance company will invest in more time finding more tangible things wrong with what’s going on.” 

Moving forward, Brockman says that telematics “is a great opportunity for brokers to flourish”, especially considering the “reality that electric vehicles will be the norm very soon”.  

“You’ve got to start learning now really for when this big boom inevitably will come very quickly in the future.  

“I feel that the insurance industry is just not gearing themselves up for this and telematics can really help in that segment.”