There has never ‘been a brighter future for telematics’ as the Covid-19 pandemic has ‘focused people’s attention’ says telematics business head

The telematics market is “reaching a tipping point” to become “more mainstream thinking” rather than just being brushed off as a product for new or younger drivers, said Norrie Erwin, managing director of telematics business Carrot.

Adding that telematics is “appropriate and pertinent for a whole range of industries, in a whole range of ways”, Erwin told Insurance Times: “Telematics [is] reaching a tipping point because it does seem to be more mainstream thinking now.

“I think people are now saying it’s not just a strategy area, it’s gone beyond that and it’s possibly reached a tipping point where we’re seeing a lot of real, tangible discussions and actions taking place and perhaps telematics is now more central to people’s thinking and propositions than maybe it has been in the past.”

Norrie Erwin (2) (002)

Norrie Erwin

In part, telematics has come to the fore now because of the Covid-19 pandemic, added Erwin, as this has “focused people’s attention”.

He explained: “People are taking a bit of a step back and going actually, this pandemic – as challenging as its been – will create opportunities as well for people to think differently about some things and about what they actually want out of their job, what do they want out of their [work-life balance]? And I think that’s given telematics a bit of a boost really.

“When it comes down to [the] absolute, real basics, people [are] saying: I’m driving fewer miles, what does that mean? Will I get rewarded for driving less miles? Well, the answer is yes you will, provided we can record those fewer miles and actually, we’re in that position to be able to do that.”

Bright future

Based on these market observations, Erwin said “I don’t think there’s ever been a brighter future for telematics. This is absolutely massive. There are just so many facets to it that can evolve”.

Furthermore, Erwin believes there are opportunities aplenty arising from the telematics market.

“The UK as a territory and as a geography is quite far advanced in terms of telematics. It would be fair to say America has got a significant opportunity, there’s no doubt about that, just because of the pure scale and the population numbers,” Erwin added.

“But I don’t think there’s a business that won’t be looking at technology in some form or another, telematics related, to say how can that data imprint my business and how through the use of that data can I improve my proposition?

“We’ve got to have a consumer focus at the end of the day, so it’s not just about throwing technology at people and hoping it works. It’s actually building the propositions around that technology.”

In terms of industry innovation, Erwin pointed to the development of connected cars – he described this as “the biggest thing for the future”. Also, there is innovation “around claims management, managing claims more effectively and interventions around that”, he added.

Pandemic impact

Despite the wealth of opportunities Erwin thinks telematics can provide, Carrot has not escaped the ongoing pandemic unscathed.

In particular, the company took a hit in terms of new business – as Carrot is targeted at new drivers, the government’s lockdown restrictions that paused driving tests and lessons has had a knock-on effect on the organisation’s pool of potential policyholders.

However, Erwin added “we’re seeing very encouraging growth signs again, which is great”.

The other main impact from the pandemic, said Erwin, was the challenge of re-creating Carrot’s call centre to work from people’s homes rather than from a central office location, while ensuring that regulatory requirements were still being adhered to.

“We did that in a very short period of time indeed and I have to say, the IT support teams in our business were absolutely fantastic,” Erwin added.