With the new acquisition as well as a vehicle tracking firm in the investors repertoire, the two could become a telematics powerhouse 

Telematics veteran and founder of Smartdriverclub Penny Searles has sold her share in the telematics broker to its main investor – US based firm CalAmp, a global technology solutions provider.

It will be merging its remaining assets of the Smartdriverclub group into CalAmp’s Tracker UK operations, she confirmed. 

The deal was completed last month, and Searles, currently chief executive of Smartdriverclub will be staying with the company in an executive role to look after client relationships.

The combination of Smartdriverclub’s assets with Tracker, a subsidiary of CalAmp, will integrate Smartdriverclub’s behaviour, risk scoring and data analytics to extend its insurance telematics offering. 

Searles told Insurance Times that the deal was ”good timing,” as well as it being a good opportunity for the company and that she was excited about the new opportunities ahead for the firm and industry as a whole. 

Smartdriverclub will continue working with its existing clients, but it will improve on the commercial side of things and what it can offer in terms of device. There will be a bigger range of devices, potentially better commercial and because of the motor dealer relationship bigger access to data.

When asked about her executive role, she said: “I have some clients that I have had for a long time, and I want them to be confident with how it’s going to move forward . Relationships are the most important thing in this industry. I want to make sure that the relationship will benefit from the sale.

Major investor 

CalAmp is a major investor in Smartdriverclub with 49% of the share, it has always had a right to purchase at any time.

It bought Tracker in February last year for £10m ($13m) in a bid to drive its European expansion while increasing its customer base in the UK and Europe within the telematics market.

Tracker is a vehicle tracking firm that looks at stolen vehicle recovery. 

“For my insurance clients, the ability to get more hardware and data services at potentially lower prices is greater, we bring massive insurance expertise into Tracker, which means all their relationships such as with motor dealers benefit as well, Searles continued. 

But she said that there will not be any job losses, and that Smartdriverclub will be working with the managing director of Tracker to develop the proposition to go back out to market with a joint offering.

“Using the Smartdriverclub platform will give them another string to their bow with their motor dealers,” she said. 

“The addition of Smartdriverclub capabilities will make us one of the leading suppliers of telematics data services to both the automotive and insurance worlds, said Mark Rose, managing director of Tracker.

“Our combined offering increases the breadth of our technology, which I am confident will benefit our existing customers, and help drive our future growth strategy.”

Telematics data  

Searles also aid that she champions insurers sharing data to ensure better premiums for customers. 

She continued: ”One of the things we are trying to do this year, is work towards creating a data hub for all telematics data as there is a lot of data out there, that insurers have collected and once the customer moves on from that insurer it does not get used again by that customer even though we have data portability in the UK. 

“One of the things that I will now have time to work on with Tracker is creating a data depository hub, so customers can use it whoever they insure with. That’s one of the key projects of 2020. It’s no good having years of driving data saying that you are a really good driver [but] no-one knows about it. It’s just hard for insurers to accept sharing data.

”Hopefully the acquisition of Smartdriverclub will give me focus on that vision since I have had since the Wunelli days.”

Bigger opportunities 

However Searles said that she wasn’t actively looking to sell Smartdrverclub, CalAmp already had a 49% shareholding and wanted to capitalise on that following its purchase of Tracker.

“It’s really good for the development of my team and company, as it’s a bigger opportunity together [rather] than apart. We will retain our presence in both London and Southampton, it will also give Tracker a new satellite office in Southampton with a customer service operation,” she said. 

CalAmp invested in Smartdriverclub back in 2015 as it was keen on becoming a strategic partner in the telematics broker’s mission to change the way telematics services are used.

Smartdriverclub was originally launched in 2016 as a connected car service for used cars which included an insurance offering.

Meanwhile long-standing telematics broker Coverbox was sold in 2008 by Searles, however last year in August it went into administration with Be Wiser netting all 10,000 of its customers. Searles started Wunelli, a connected car service in 2008, later selling it in 2014.

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