Telit criticizes use of smartphones for UBI

Telit has teamed up with vehicle software specialist Danlaw and Driveprofiler, a provider of usage-based insurance (UBI) solutions, to promote the adoption of embedded or self-installed devices in vehicles over the use of smartphones.

The companies say their partnership is about developing best practice, and claim they want to provide more clarity to regulatory authorities and members of the automotive insurance value chain regarding UBI.

Telit has teamed up with vehicle software specialist Danlaw and Driveprofiler, a provider of usage-based insurance (UBI) solutions, to promote the adoption of embedded or self-installed devices in vehicles over the use of smartphones.

The companies say their partnership is about developing best practice, and claim they want to provide more clarity to regulatory authorities and members of the automotive insurance value chain regarding UBI.

Ultimately, however, they are keen to demonstrate the advantages of in-vehicle over smartphone technology, evidently hoping their efforts will result in a surge of interest in the services they provide.

Telit (London, UK) says the proliferation of smartphones and smartphone platforms makes the development of software and applications a major challenge for developers and insurers weighing up their device options.

Moreover, it argues that the viability of using smartphones for UBI programs is questionable because of growing concern about the potential for fraud associated with smartphone hacking.

“Smartphones still lack the ability to provide clean, consistent and accurate driving data that can be used in usage-based insurance programs,” said Nate Bryer, vice president of innovation at Danlaw (Novi, MI, USA). “As of today, the only way to generate and gather the data needed for a UBI program is an embedded or self-installed device that is tied into a vehicles electronic system.”

Nevertheless, Bryer acknowledges that insurance companies could use in-vehicle devices in conjunction with smartphones to combine “the data quality of an installed device with the versatility of a smartphone”.

Ken Osler, a director at Driveprofiler, says the company’s experience has shown customers prefer using in-vehicle technology for UBI and the smartphone “as a ‘teaser’ to introduce the concept”.

“The use of smartphone technology as primary means of data collection, processing and transmission for UBI or any other telematics application is problematic at best,” added Cyril Zeller, the vice president of global telematics at Telit. “The technical strength of the solution is minimal, the regulatory climate is unfavorable [while] legal and liability risks essentially abound.”

Unsurprisingly, Telit says its modules – combined with technology from Danlaw and Driveprofiler – embedded directly in the vehicle provide “superior technical performance handling exceptionally the complexity and managing risks associated with programs in all application areas under development by the insurance industry”.