Last Sunday’s F1 Canadian Grand Prix was brilliant. Jensen Button’s last lap overtaking manoeuvre to steal victory from Sebastien Vettel was the climax of one of the most exciting, if rain-soaked and delayed, Grand Prix in years.
But what does it have to do with getting cheap car insurance quotes? The answer is “telematics”. It was whilst watching the Grand Prix and seeing pictures of team race engineers scrutinising banks of TV screens carrying detailed information on their car’s performance that I remembered first hearing the word years ago during F1 commentary. Telematics was the slightly mysterious thing that enabled the car itself to “talk” to the engineers, allowing them to monitor temperatures, fuel consumption and a myriad of other data. It’s the same technology that allowed mission control in Houston to keep tabs on its spacecraft.
Formula 1, like the NASA space programme, has been responsible for a number of innovations that have since found “real world” applications. A quick Google search lead me to the New Scientist website(www.newscientist.com/gallery/dn16689-from-the-race-track-to-space-and-hospitals
) and this revealed the following list of inventions inspired by FI innovations: the carbon-fibre incubator; the monocoque wheelchair; more efficient “pit teams” at Great Ormond Street Hospital; the shock absorber knee brace; greener cars with recycled energy; improved fly fishing line; better non-slip footwear; and even parts for the Beagle Mars Lander. And these innovations have extended in the last couple of years to include the humble car insurance policy.
Telematics technology is now increasingly applied in cars up and down the country as car insurance companies use the technology to offer car insurance quotes based on actual driving performance rather than a series of average assumptions. Coverbox, i-kube, insurethebox and the Co-Op are just a few of the companies offering a telematics solution to drivers. Several other insurers will add to this list over coming months and years and we expect telematics to become a standard part of the car insurance landscape in the years ahead.
These companies fit a small “smart” device to cars – it’s about the size of a mobile phone – and this allows them to track driving distance, speed, time of day, excessive braking and other driving behaviours. Their policies may reward or penalise what is deemed to be good or bad driving with reduced or increased insurance costs. The policies on offer may be particularly attractive to those looking for young drivers car insurance as insurers are able to stipulate (and monitor) lower mileage policies or policies with late night driving restrictions.
Telematics solutions may well be in-built into the new cars of the future making this kind of insurance policy even easier to adopt. And the technology won’t just help drivers of the future to find cheap car insurance. Telematics could also be used to automatically alert the authorities in the event of a serious crash (the device will record the dramatic speed reductions associated with crashes); or automatically book your car in for a service if something’s not quite right with your car.
So when you are next looking for car insurance, check out the telematics schemes on offer (many of them are accessible via the car insurance comparison service on Tiger.co.uk) and if you save yourself a few pounds don’t forget to thank Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Lewis Hamilton and friends for lending a helping hand!
But remember, just because you have telematics in your motor doesn’t mean you can drive like Jensen Button!