This topic requires a small intro, so bear with me while I try and set it up as briefly as I can.

I live in Saskatchewan, where our vehicle registration and mandatory insurance is run by Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), a monopoly "crown" corporation. We operate in a no-fault environment, and motorcycles are not exempted. Due to increasing losses in the motorcycle insurance segments, rates have been moving upwards, and this Spring, SGI proposed to raise them an average 73%, to bring premiums in line with losses. Actual proposed rates, especially for sportbikes increased in some cases by as much as 300%. My trusty `93 R1100RS was so classified and would have gone up from $1500 CAD/year to $3500 CAD/year.

Needless to say, motorcyclists were quite upset, and the subsequent backlash ultimately caused the Premier of Sask to direct SGI to phase the proposed increases over 3 to 5 years and capped this year`s increase to an average of 15%. While the worst was avoided (for now), all parties are continuing to work on solutions.

For the purposes of this thread, I`d like to acknowledge that SGI was truly overwhelmed at the response, and is earnestly looking for ways to mitigate the impact (so to speak) on motorcyclists. In addition to the expected ideas such as Rider Education and coverage adjustments, they are prepared to pilot a trial of Telematics, or Usage Based Insurance (UBI) for motorcycles.

A World First:

Telematics, has been around for a long time in cars and trucks. More than mere logistics (time and GPS position), Telematics additionally captures speed and acceleration in all planes, so it can easily determine cornering and braking force. It works very well in cars and trucks, as they are essentially "rooted" in one plane. Motorcycles, of course, change planes all the time when leaning into corners making cornering analysis more difficult, and thus to date, no one has adapted the tech to motorcycles (i.e. for insurance purposes). SGI have partnered with Baseline Telematics as the equipment supplier, and German software giant, SAP for data analysis.

In existing insurance scenarios, UBI provides valid feedback to both the driver and the insurance company weekly via an easily reached private web portal, and often results in drivers modifying their behavior to save significant sums on their insurance. The driver is able to graphically review all their trips, and see exactly where they exceeded the speed limit (i.e. within an allowable margin), where and how often they cornered, accelerated or braked aggressively. The data is parsed, and represents a sliding "risk" profile that the insurance company uses to calculate discounts, or in rare cases surcharges.

But it's never been done for bikes. In order to make it (at least somewhat) valid, someone has to fund a trial, gather and expensively parse a lot of data, and make it rational enough for motorcyclists to opt in. Obviously size and weatherproofing is important, as well as simplicity. In standard vehicles, the units are plugged into the OBD2 ports which don't exist for motorcycles (and WHY not?). For bikes, the hookup requires a constant 12V and an ignition switched source. Current draw is in the microamp range, and the unit can detect "virtual" ignition from system voltages, position, etc. if an ignition source is not available.

As a rider of 47 years and over a million kilometers, I certainly have my doubts, not just as to whether the tech can derive valid data, but also as to whether this could ever work out to the motorcyclist's advantage. If for no other reason than to "know your enemy", I've volunteered to be a participant in the trial, and should have my unit installed sometime next week (July 15 -19, 2013). If there's sufficient interest, I'll try and provide updates.

I'm also interested in others' opinions surrounding this topic, particularly from anyone who has experience with it in a car or truck. If nothing else, people may find interest in an issue that might (eventually) affect them.

John Parsons