Shaun Lowthorpe, Business editor
Monday, November 26, 2012
Motorists could steer themselves towards cheaper car insurance using a new smartphone app developed in Norwich.
The new Aviva app is being ‘road-tested’ by two members of the Eastern Daily Press motoring team to see if their driving comes up to scratch.
Armed with the same android phones, on which the Aviva app has been loaded, motoring editor Andy Russell and advertising motors team leader Kelly Rix are using the app to monitor their driving skills.
Both see it as a personal battle of the sexes, determined to show who is the better driver, which is made all the more relevant with a new EU law coming into force on December 21 which will prevent insurers discriminating on the basis of gender when setting insurance premiums which traditionally have been higher for men and lower for women.
More importantly, it will be an interesting challenge with the Aviva app being an independent judge on who comes across as the safer driver. Andy and Kelly, who have held full driving licences for 34 and 18 years respectively, may also pick up some useful pointers towards making them better drivers.
Having registered his details on the app, Andy’s confidence has been boosted by his driving style being described as ‘fuel friendly’ after 16 miles. But the app needs 200 miles before it gives its final verdict so there is a long way to go. We’ll be bringing you the results at the end of our challenge,
So may the best man – or woman – win!
Insurance giant Aviva is today launching its Aviva Drive app which it says could help motorists achieve savings of up to 20pc on quotes.
Free to download, the app rates a driver’s performance over 200 miles before issuing them with a rating between 0-10 with bigger discounts on quotes available to motorists with higher scores.
The app, which is being released initially on the Android operating system from the Google Play app store, also allows drivers to compare ratings on social media sites. An i-phone version is still in development.
And while not designed to change driver behaviour, it could also help women drivers find a route around new rules barring insurance companies from giving them cheaper premiums than men, which are due to come in force from next month .
The app uses smartphone technology to give us a snapshot of the motorist’s driving style – covering their acceleration, braking and cornering.
At 200 miles, it will give the motorist an individual driving score, which will be used to calculate any personalised discount the motorist has earned – up to 20pc off their Aviva premium - in addition to any other Aviva offers for which they are eligible.
Aviva said they were also confident that the app contains enough safeguards to prevent it being misused by customers, or those who might be tempted to pass off their driving as someone else to help them get a better deal.
Steve Treloar, retail director at Aviva said the app had been fine-tuned and developed by a team in Norwich, following a trial involving thousands of motorists which started in August.
“The phone is an integral part of people’s lives,” he said. “We were happy with the Android one, but we have got a bit more work to do with the i-phone. It’s not about how fast you are driving, it looks at cornering, acceleration and braking. It’s not designed to change behaviour, but by having it there, it may well do.”
During the trial, one 23-year-old driver who was paying £1,600 for insurance saw his premiums drop to £600 after getting a score of 3.6, but the discounts only apply to motorists with premiums of more than £200 as those with less than that are already deemed to be among the safest drivers.
Mr Treloar also admitted that while designed to appeal to “tech savvy” men, the app may help women drivers secure lower premiums in spite of new rules barring insurance firms charging less to women.
“Insurance companies and customers want to know that they are getting the best price, and to get the best price you want to understand how customers drive, because that’s actually the real risk factor here,” he said. “It’s available to anybody. We’re really pleased with the test phase and have been encouraged by the feedback we’ve received from motorists who used the app. To help make it even better, we’ve made a number of changes including giving motorists hints and tips on how to improve their driving, and the ability to share scores and badges using social media networks.
“As well as making some changes to the app itself, we’ve also changed the name, which is now called ‘Aviva Drive’.”
And he said that while the app will enable the firm to tailor premiums to individual drivers, the firm will not charge more to drivers with lower scores.
“We won’t penalise other drivers if their driving doesn’t come up to the standard set by the app. They’ll just receive the standard premium, but won’t get a discount.”