Performance Data Could Inform Insurance Costs

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Big Brother could be watching you. Very soon telematics will monitor your motorcycle’s location, speed, mileage, acceleration, braking and even the G-forces experienced during cornering.

At around $100 for installing a telematic device on a bike, plus $5 a month monitoring fee, the system would collect all of this information and e-mail it once a week to the rider. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that all of this information is also going to be passed to a second party that would then determine your insurance rates based upon how you ride your bike.

If you think this sounds all a bit far fetched in actual fact it’s closer to reality than you would think. Admittedly it’s only a pilot program and it’s only being launched in Canada but if it proves successful there is a strong chance that other countries’ government transport authorities could take note and introduce a similar system around the world.

SGI Canada is the trade name of the property and casualty insurance division of the Saskatchewan Auto Fund – the Canadian province’s compulsory auto insurance program, that also operates the driver licensing and vehicle registration system.

This month SGI announced it was looking for vendors to supply telematics technology for motorcycles for a planned pilot program to monitor riders’ driving style.

Donna Harpauer, Minister Responsible for SGI, says: “Usage-based insurance is the ultimate in rating fairness because it essentially lets the rider control their own insurance rate through their driving behavior. Simply put, those who ride responsibly will pay less and those that don’t will pay more. This pilot program is an exciting first step to seeing if this could be an effective approach here in Saskatchewan.”

The next step is for SGI to find 1,000 willing motorcyclists to sign up for the program and have the telematic system fitted to their bikes. Based upon the results of the pilot, SGI is hoping to have permanent system for all motorcyclists in place as early as next year.

“It won’t matter if you have a sport bike, a Harley-Davidson or a touring bike. It will make no difference at all. It will all be based upon your driving behavior and how safely you drive that motorcycle,” said SGI President and CEO Andrew Cartmell.

SGI thinks the program would result in fewer accidents resulting in savings that would offset the price of installing telematics and the on-going monitoring costs.

However there is also a privacy and use of information issue that SGI will have to overcome.

“We would do a full privacy impact assessment so that all of the checks and balances and the protocols with respect to how the data is used, what it’s used for and who has access to it all is covered off,” added Cartmell.

The biggest problem we think SGI is going to face could be actually finding 1,000 Canadian motorcyclists prepared to take part in this pilot program and agreeing to the device being fitted to their bikes. We’ll wait to see what happens next…

  • Stef

    I wonder what happens if you drive you bike calmly but also use it on track days.

    That would give it some strange spikes in the data.

    • Jesse

      From experience, a car that has been autocross prepared, and has been inspected by an agent (which is usually what needs to happen if you want any of your fancy equipment to be insured) is way more expensive to ensure than one that hasn’t.

      I suspect that weekend performance data spikes will tell them all the need (or care) to know.

  • Clint Keener

    “…SGI to find 1,000 willing motorcyclists…”
    haha good luck!

  • Jesse

    One of the US car insurance companies does this already for cars & trucks already, right? Plug this doo-dad in, and we learn how you drive, and cut you better deals. &tc. Some folks will sign up for it, for better or worse.

    We (at least the thinking We, perhaps not all the We) are well aware that Big Brother is watching us. Use anything online? You (or at least your demographic) is being tracked. Buy anything online? Same. Use any forum at all (including RA/HFL), ta-dah.

    The good news is that Big Bro doesn’t have the infinite manpower and processing power to do anything with all the data.

    • Piglet2010

      We have similar devices on our company fleet vehicles. Probably be mandatory on all commercial vehicles in most countries in the near future.

  • Richard Gozinya

    Wow, this sounds almost as much fun as a trike conversion.

  • James P

    Progressive Insurance already does this for cars, they call it “Snapshot”

  • runnermatt

    Here is the problem I have with this possibly being mandatory. I’ll leave motorcycle riding aside for now since I’ve only been riding for a year and don’t have the requisite skills to utilize the full capabilities of my bike. As for driving my car… I’m an autocrosser, I enjoy driving my car hard; rain, snow or shine. I know I will better be able to avoid an accident at 70 mph than the idiot driving the same speed in his/her Toyota Highlander who is texting his teenage daughter, his wife, and his mom all at the same time because his 15 minute commute is more boring than my 1:15 commute.

    It would be like comparing Jamie or Wes’s riding skills with some squid because they are both going “fast” and cornering “fast”.

    If the governments actually cared about making the roads safer they would start with better driving/riding instruction and more stringent testing. This is about enabling insurance companies to make more money, while getting the citizens used to these tracking systems so that eventually the governments can entertain the idea of using them for traffic monitoring the same way photo radar is used now.

  • Kr Tong

    Wonder what discount I’ll get for having my bike permanently garaged. And by bike i mean monitor.

    • Jesse

      The insurance company will know the miles you put on the bike every year. Taking out the monitor for weekend track days and canyon weekends, but leaving it in for the commuter-slog might work out, though.

  • Sean Tempère

    Here’s my problem with all things automatic when it comes to safety.
    It equates safety to legality in a very binary way. Driving neer a school 1mph under the limit at drop-off hour may be legal but i consider it less safe than driving 10 above at night.

  • AHA

    This er, service, is currently available from several car insurers (including the AA) in the UK. Only rather stupid people would imagine crude telemetry can adequately assess good driving. More significant is the near total indifference (outside the biking media) to this potentially horrendous development. It’s that indifference that’ll kill us all.

  • Mugget

    What a crock!! Do they seriously think they can use data like acceleration, speed & g-force to calculate whether a person is riding safely or not? Maybe they do think that, if they believe the fallacy that “speed = danger”.

    What are the chances that they’ll use the data from people who don’t crash and lower their insurance costs? Yeah, not likely…

    I already don’t have comprehensive insurance (only fire & theft coverage), I don’t see any need to change that, and this sure doesn’t make me want to.

  • bbradsby

    This is the camel’s nose in the tent. I fear the end is near for street biking as we know & enjoy it.

    Between vehicle telemetry and the traffic cameras headed our way soon, to traffic-monitor drones, all connected to Enforcement Agencies in need of more Dollars every year, the freedom we now enjoy will be gone in just a few years.

    Then, maybe 10-20 years out? when automated googlemobiles’ accident-avoidance programs swerve or slam on their brakes every time we filter through their lines & lane change around them, coffee will be spilled & newspapers jostled… voters will be inconvenienced… and we will be written out of the law as dangerous, random vectors, inconveniences that the cars’ autopilot programs cannot deal with.

  • Davidabl2

    The experience the British have been having with omni-present traffic cameras plus lowering speed limits after the cams go in give you some idea where this is going. Both Govt. and insurers taking a bigger bite, all with a nod to improving public safety.

  • Terry Davey

    ok, so this is not the best thing imaginable. First I will say that I play just as much as the next guy, round the corners of the law if you will. In other words I speed, accelerate quickly, swerve, all for the sheer thrill of it. What I do is illegal bottom line. That being said I have never been in an accident, and I have never been pulled over on my bike. On the other hand a case can be made that this type of riding could be done on a track somewhere rather than on public streets. Either way I don’t like the idea of being tracked, but I don’t see this happening in my lifetime.