The general population, me included, view insurance to be “all a little bit old school”. I’m sure many of us imagine a figure with white hair sitting behind a big timber desk on a leather chair counting all their money right? It’s a funny thought, but the insurance industry has come a long way and in more recent times there have been a number of significant technological advancements which will help you with your insurance coverage.
Here are a few:
GPS Tracking – Use of satellites as part of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) is not a new thing, nor is tracking. There have been significant advancements however in the hardware and software available to use GPS signals and these advancements increase and enhance the capability available in the market.
These days, installation of GPS tracking on your property, be it a vehicle, caravan or camper trailer can be as simple as a piece of double sided tape and a very small transponder which you can track with your iPhone. This is the simplest method, but available systems can be quite intricate with backup batteries, data storage and live remote monitoring.
The last thing any of us want is for people to know where we are or to track us, but this can be an invaluable safety asset and an opportunity to reduce your insurance premiums with your insurance company. Statistically, a vehicle with GPS tracking is easier to locate following theft, which reduces the risk posed. Further to this, a live tracking system can measure your speed, gforces and position, again reducing the risk posed which may reduce your premium depending on your policy. With Club 4X4, any Caravan, Camper Trailer or 5th Wheeler with GPS tracking is entitled to a 10% discount on their premium.
ESC – I remember a time when car control was a craft, something you were either taught or taught yourself through experience, diligence and trial and error. Unfortunately not everyone was adept or controlled in this process, leading to casualties and severe injuries on and off-road.
So along came the advent of driver aids; initially traction control, a concept that applied braking force to individual wheels to prevent a loss of traction. This then developed into Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a far more “all encompassing” system, which nowadays not only harnesses your vehicle’s braking system to control traction, but is as intricate as distributing power, measuring yaw and pitch and making split second continuous adjustments to prevent catastrophic accidents.
These incredibly advanced systems can now help us 4X4 enthusiasts climb and descend steep and slippery terrain and prevent a rollover on tarmac. While the “driver” in me frowns upon the constant electrical “big brother” style intervention in the driving process, there is no disputing the fact that ESC and driver aids have made a significant and positive impact on overall road safety and reduced road trauma.
From an insurance perspective, vehicles and trailers fitted with an ESC system pose a lower risk, as such these vehicles will inherently have lower premiums. Specifically relevant to Club 4X4, if your Camper Trailer, Caravan or 5th Wheeler is equipped with an ESC system, you will get a 10% discount on your policy
Mobile phone – Once the humble tool to call family and friends, now a source of constant entertainment, versatility and functionality. As mentioned earlier, you can now use your mobile phone to track your vehicle through GPS systems, use online maps to work out where your next adventure will be, or check out the forums to see if anyone else has experienced a mechanical concern you have with your rig. You can do all of this, almost anywhere in the country in the palm of your hand!
Whilst all of these uses are relevant to us as enthusiasts, you can also use your phone and specifically, its camera to record things like point of accident pictures of damage to all vehicles, license details and other pertinent information. When getting a quote, some insurers may ask you to take photos to check your rig’s condition before setting a value; these are activities you can undertake on your everyday run of the mill mobile phone.
Dash Cams – Aside from providing increasingly entertaining footage of vehicular mayhem on YouTube, Dash Cams do provide great evidence of pre and post accident activity.
Recently we published a blog about some of the unknown intricacies of claims. We spoke about the challenges that come with claims where liability is difficult to determine; some examples of these are car park accidents and incidents involving merging and lane changes. Having dash cam footage may not help with your premium, but you can be sure your insurer would love to see the footage if it shows exactly what happened in the lead-up to a collision. Many camera systems also provide local and remote backups also, a handy one if your vehicle were to go missing from your driveway when reporting to policy and your insurers. A picture says a thousand words, how many does a video clip?
Immobilisation/Alarms – Similar to GPS, this is a form of technology that isn’t new, but has seen significant advancement over the years. Many vehicles manufactured from the mid to late 90’s have some form of immobilisation – usually in the form of transponder system within the vehicle key, which talks to the computer system, allowing the vehicle to fire up. Many specialist insurers I’ve dealt with over the years have asked for more immobilisation points before offering insurance, this isn’t as common anymore as advancements in manufacturing technology have made vehicles generally harder to steal, but important to note in any case. These days alarm systems will incorporate intricate immobilisers, and GPS tracking and some even give you the option to disable the vehicle remotely.
Some insurers will give you discounts for having such protection systems, so make sure you ask the question when getting a quote.
Home surveillance – These days it’s not uncommon to see every house on a suburban street with camera surveillance fitted throughout. Ranging from small to large, infrared and not, backed up to servers in the home office or streamed to a remote surveillance firm, it would appear as a country we are getting more and more paranoid about our neighbours! There are definitely benefits to having such security systems though, from feeling secure in your home, to being able to monitor it while you’re away and certainly from an insurance perspective. Whilst the direct benefit would certainly be to your home insurance policy, having footage of vandals of thieves could be a huge benefit when reporting theft to the police or your insurer. Make sure there is one camera monitoring where your prized possession is parked!
DatDot DNA – This is another technology that has been around for some time and one that we don’t hear much about anymore. The concept of data dot is simple; application of an identity to the parts on your vehicle, making it difficult to sell off the parts to wreckers or through other criminal channels. It can be applied by brush or aerosol, but basically the applied product has many tidy metallic “DataDots.” These hold an identity, which is linked to a central register, giving them “DNA”.
If as part of a theft investigation, parts are found to have identities, they can be traced back to the rightful owner and be used in the process of claims acceptance and ultimately in pressing charges for theft or possession of stolen parts.
Technology is creeping into our lives everyday and for the most part it enhances our living standards. They say prevention is better than a cure, so be mindful of how you can use technology in your dealings with your insurer.