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3 steps for insurance companies to begin solving for distracted driving

Gina Minick · April 30, 2019 · 4 min read
Is your insurance company covering the biggest potential opportunities to help stop distracted driving, reduce costs, and save lives?

I think back a few years ago while stopped at a red light with my daughter in the backseat, and the car behind me glided right into the back of my car. A quick apology and an offer to foot the bill to replace my bumper – he’d clearly been texting while he hit me.  

My own family has been impacted multiple times by careless drivers and avoidable accidents that could have been prevented. My husband was also hit head-on traveling 55mph when a drunk driver flew across a median and ran into him, flipping his car three times. Fortunately, with every accident we’ve been in – we’ve all walked away without a scratch. Others haven’t been so lucky. There are an estimated 9 people killed each day from distracted driving alone. 

Distracted driving is a well-known problem that many industries are tackling from a variety of angles, though insurance companies might top that list. That’s because insurers understand just how expensive distracted driving can be in terms of loss costs and the significant risk it puts policyholders of injury or worse. 

If you work at an insurance company (or simply love the insurance industry as I do!) here’s my take on the biggest potential opportunities to help stop distracted driving, reduce costs, and save lives. And if you know me well and the joy I get from making lists – check this one out … 

Leverage Real-World Behavioral Driving Data

  • Collect and analyze mobile phone telematics data. Without measurable data, your strategies for improvement are only guesses. 
  • Measure the distracted driving behaviors that contribute to the frequency and severity of accidents. Not all distracted driving attribute to the same level of risk. 
  • Consider phone usage—where, when, and how—to more accurately assess distracted driving risk.
  • Validate the data by ensuring that real-world, behind-the-wheel experiences align withyour conclusions. 
  • Create comprehensive distracted driving models based on mobile sensor data to identify and account for different behaviors at different times. With only 18% of the variation in distracted driving being explained by driving behavior measured by OBD-II devices, using mobile sensor data is crucial.

Develop a Successful Safety Program

  • Design a well-researched program that will impact a large percentage of your drivers. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so iterate, iterate, iterate on your program. 
  • Provide time-relevant positive feedback to reinforce safe and distraction-free driving. 
  • Leverage scoring and user experience design to help drivers understand how their behavior behind the wheel puts them personally at risk. 
  • Reward safer drivers with policy discounts. 
  • Give policyholders personalized coaching based on proven behavioral science methods to drive awareness and ownership of their actions. 

Continually Monitor New Behaviors and Evolve

  • Capture distracted driving data in a natural setting to inform and improve on more effective models and programs. 
  • Identify and measure new behaviors that contribute to accidents. 
  • Constantly improve algorithms based on deeper data and layers of analysis. 
  • Create more effective, personalized rates for new policyholders and emerging markets, like shared mobility company drivers. 
  • Determine which incentives and strategies have worked, whether they are still working, and how they need to evolve and remain effective. 

Of course, all these steps are easier said than done. Partnering with a telematics data company that already has a wealth of driving data can jumpstart your efforts to achieve these items in my list.  I’m optimistic that by the time my kids are driving on the road, if enough insurance companies make this work a priority, we will see fewer accidents from distracted drivers, lower loss costs and safer roads! 

For a deeper dive into how insurance companies can help stop distracted driving, download the Arity white-paper, The True Cost of Distracted Driving for Insurers. 


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