Can your phone tell if you’re a good driver? Yes it can, say Telematics specialist The Floow. In fact, it’s also helping insurers to encourage better habits among their policyholders. Tim Green, mobile expert and influencer, sat down with Rebecca Bell, Marketing Director at The Floow, to find out how A2P SMS is enabling insurer engagement for the first time.
“How’s my driving?” It’s a question typically displayed on the back of commercial vehicles, alongside a number to call. The idea is to make the roads safer by inviting people to report irresponsible behavior.
A laudable idea. But is it effective? How often do people call? And are they always honest?
Happily, there’s now a much better way of assessing safe driving: get a smartphone to do it for you.
A phone sitting in a driver’s pocket can collect a huge amount of data which, aggregated together, can provide an accurate and unbiased assessment of his or her driving.
This simple insight was the spark that led to the creation of UK-based specialist The Floow in 2012. The founders observed the rise of telematics inside the latest vehicles, the emergence of public data sets (relating to weather, traffic and so on), and the smartphone becoming ubiquitous.
They recognized that collectively, these factors could lead to a revolution in safe driving.
“We saw the opportunity to change the telematics industry, by making use of data and social sciences in ways that could change driver behavior and lower the risks on our roads.
So The Floow built a software system that could be coded into an app to collect data on the following safe driving markers:
- Speed (including contextual speed relative to other drivers)
- Smooth driving (acceleration and deceleration)
- Mobile phone use while driving
- Fatigue (by length of journey)
- Time of day (late night driving is statistically more dangerous)
These innovations soon attracted insurance companies. Today, The Floow works with Direct Line and many more insurers in multiple regions.
The result? Fewer accidents and fewer claims.
The second benefit is less obvious. Historically, insurance companies had no discernible dialogue with customers after the policy was purchased – unless there was a claim. With a safe driving app in place, they can stay in touch constantly.
Here at last is a chance to develop a genuine customer relationship. But which channel to use? Well, there’s email of course. But for more direct and immediate use cases, a more effective option is SMS – the universal channel that everyone understands.
“The challenge for many of our clients is that drivers don’t really think about insurance. By using text messaging and apps, insurers can engage their customers for the first time. They can prompt drivers to check their data, assess their scores and see what rewards can be redeemed.”
In most cases, insurers offer Amazon vouchers or similar as rewards. However, there is always the risk that fraudsters can steal the codes and claim these prizes. To combat this, The Floow chose to use SMS as an authentication method. So when the driver redeems a reward, The Floow sends a one time passcode by text, which the recipient then uses to prove his or her identity.
The first time a client asked for this kind of functionality, they wanted it live within days. To meet the deadline, The Floow used SMS APIs provided by messaging specialist CLX. It simply embedded these APIs inside its own systems using a ‘communications platform as a service’ (CPaaS) model.
According to Bell, messaging has helped insurers to achieve their twin goals of staying in touch with drivers, and making rewards safer. Now it’s hoping to go further – with chatbots.
“Bots are interesting,” she says. “Younger drivers in particular like using chat sessions for customer service. Insurers are exploring bots as an option, so it’s something we’re looking at.”