Safer driving. There’s an app for that

Posted by Richard Catlin in Credit Score on 13 June 2012 - Richard is Marketing Director at checkmyfile.

Do you consider yourself to be a good driver? Better than your friends or your partner perhaps?

A new smartphone app might just be able to settle the argument and paint a picture of just how good (and by good, I mean safe) a driver you actually are.

Developed by specialist insurer Provisional Marmalade, the ‘intelligent marmalade’ app measures your acceleration, braking and cornering over the course of your journey and uses your overall performance to give you a rating out of 100.

Your driving performance is then used to calculate the sort of discount you might get if your car were fitted with a telematic ‘black box’. The use of this technology is becoming increasingly commonplace - which could be good news for some drivers, and especially those that are new behind the wheel.

As most people have discovered the hard way, insurance premiums for young drivers are usually astronomical – often costing more each year than the car is actually worth. This is because young drivers are statistically much more likely to have an accident and so premiums are higher for everyone in that category.

The thought of installing a box that monitors your driving may be a little bit big brother to some people, but the potential savings should tempt many more into signing up. The Co-op Young Driver Insurance is a good example – a SmartBox is fitted to the car and the driving monitored over the course of 90 days. Drive carefully, and at sensible times of day, and you’ll be rewarded with a discount, but race around in the middle of the night like Lewis Hamilton and the opposite is likely to apply.

As well as reducing the basic cost of insuring a car, research shows that drivers with a SmartBox fitted to their car are involved in 20% less accidents, and that the average claim is 30% lower than those without them - so peace of mind for parents in addition to a cheaper policy.

It might not seem immediately obvious, but the reasoning behind car insurance premiums and the way that applications for credit are assessed are very closely aligned.

In the simplest terms, it’s all about risk. Insurers are trying to work out the likelihood of you having an accident (or your car being stolen), whilst lenders are basically assessing the risk of you ‘defaulting’ on any loan, credit card, mortgage or other credit facility they might grant you.

When it comes to credit agreements, it’s been proved beyond doubt that credit score cards – complex mathematical calculations that assess how likely someone is to default on any agreement – are far more accurate (and of course, quicker and cheaper) than a human assessment.

The “computer says no” sketch from Little Britain is very funny, but when it comes to calculating risk, the computer really does know best.

Richard is our Marketing Manager and has a degree in Geography from the University of Glamorgan. He can be contacted at richard@checkmyfile.com

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