We’re already using biometrics every day on our smartphones, helping to keep our data safe. But can this sci-fi sounding technology save us cash when it comes to car insurance?
What is biometrics?
Biometrics is the measure and analysis of how someone behaves. The word is derived from the Greek words ‘bio’ meaning ‘life ‘ and ‘metric’ meaning ‘measure’. This technology allows someone to be identified in two ways:
- The way they move
- The shape of the body – for example, a fingerprint
Is it just a sci-fi fantasy?
Not many years ago, biometrics seemed just a distant dream in the world of sci-fi. But as the technology has developed and units have become more accurate and cheaper to produce, it’s entering into our everyday lives. British citizens have been able to hold an e-passport with a chip containing the holder’s facial biometric since 2006. And in 2013, Apple introduced fingerprint recognition on its iPhones.
Could it be the answer for cheaper insurance for safe drivers?
One of a motorists’ biggest gripes is the high cost of premiums. Safe and honest drivers feel they are penalised because they’re paying out extra cash to cover the cost of fraudulent claims and dangerous drivers.
Insurance companies use various algorithms to calculate individual risk, but it is still a relatively generalised process. In recent years, telematics has appeared as a route towards driving down the cost of premiums by building a more individual picture of driving style and skills. With telematics, a ‘little black box’ is hooked up to your car and records things like braking, speed, and time of driving.
The attempt to build a more personal picture of a driver leaps forward a few spaces with biometric technology. And with a more individual picture of a driver, comes the chance to create tailored insurance that recognises safe driving.
The connected car
You have biometric technology in your smartphone to ensure that only you can open the screen. You can use it in your car to unlock the door using just your thumb. That makes life a lot more convenient, with no more keys to hunt for in the morning rush. But it also means enhanced security as there are no keys that can be stolen. And a vehicle that is harder to steal is cheaper to insure.
Enhanced security and safety
The security features of a biometric system extend beyond keyless entry. If a fingerprint is required for the ignition too, that also makes the car harder to steal. Iris recognition can also be deployed in the rear view mirror. With this in place, you could set your car to only drive when there is an authorised driver in the driving seat.
Iris recognition in the rear view mirror can also be used to monitor driver behaviour. It’s like a more sophisticated version of telematics, with optical sensors that monitor eye movement and track how often you check your mirrors. This could also have additional safety benefits by tracking eye movement and alerting the driver if it senses that the driver is getting tired.
What would this mean for insurance? Any device that can make driving safer and the risk of your vehicle being stolen lower, will be good news for insurance premiums. A previous claim always means higher prices. So staying claim free is the best way to keep premiums as low as possible.
And the system can also feed valuable information to your insurance company. This will help your insurance company to quote you an insurance price that is more accurately based on your individual driving risk. That could mean that you’ll be rewarded you with lower prices if you show safer driving traits. But it could also swing the other way, and you’ll be charged extra for riskier driving technique.
Biometrics and the insurance industry
So, is the insurance industry taking up biometrics? Yes, it’s a rapidly changing area with many insurance companies currently researching how they can use the technology. It’s being considered along with telematics as a way to build a more thorough picture of the insured risk.
Biometrics could be the route to more fluid insurance. It could be used to adjust premiums regularly based on who is driving, rather than a static policy for a fixed number of drivers. This could be especially useful for fleet drivers, who could have their own policy based on the different vehicles they regularly drive as opposed to being insured on just one van.
Helping to speed up the claim process
Biometrics could help speed up the processing time for claims as well as bring price cuts for drivers. Data is gained directly from the car, letting a claims handler know exactly who was driving. This helps to reduce the number of fraudulent claims, and would reduce the cost of premiums in the long run for honest drivers.
When will we see it being used by insurance companies?
Biometrics is causing quite a stir in the car insurance industry. The capacity of the technology is rapidly evolving and it’s something that’s likely to grow over next couple of years until it becomes the norm. So watch this space.
For great value insurance tailored to your needs
The use of biometrics in our cars is not so very far off, but in the meantime, you can get the best price on your car insurance by shopping around. If you don’t have time to trawl the market, let the experts at Park Insurance do the hard work for you. We’re a family-run business with preferred broker status with some of the UK’s biggest insurance companies. That means we’re not tied to any one company but can use our buying power to negotiate extra good value deals on your behalf. Call us on 0117 9556835 or get a quote.