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Thread: A World First - Usage Based Insurance (Telematics) for Motorcycles

  1. #1
    K'nothead
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    A World First - Usage Based Insurance (Telematics) for Motorcycles

    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

  2. #2
    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    As the ease of "look what other info we can collect" expands exponentially, it would seem so many things are headed this way- but I don't want to hi-jack the thread. Progressive has been offering their "snapshot" http://www.progressive.com/auto/snapshot/?vanity=true/ which is collecting data on how you drive and I suspect are thinking of "other things".
    The states that have had their gas tax revenues shrink as fuel efficiency grows, are sorta on the same track- checking mileage through vehicle inspections.
    It will be real interesting to see how you make out.
    Gary
    "Well they say.. time loves a hero but only time will tell.. If he's real, he's a legend from heaven If he ain't he was sent here from hell" Lowell George
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  3. #3
    BMW Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by jopars View Post
    ..............

    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
    I'm getting very tired of Big Brother and all the comrades overlooking society. Let's see how we're building today's world:
    1) Can't get on a plane without getting naked first.
    2) Can't drive through a number of towns in South Florida without getting a picture of your license plate taken automatically.
    3) Red light camera's all over the place.
    4) The insurance company wants to see how fast I accelerate and brake despite having zero crashes in 44 years of riding and driving.
    a) I hope they didn't witness my 115 mph stint while test riding a possible purchase of another BMW a few days ago. Hadn't been over a hundred in a few weeks so I just "needed" to do it.
    b) And I sure hope they didn't see how hard I put the binders on just because I wanted to see how hard the bike would stop. Just for fun no less.
    5) You need 50 i.d.'s in order to prove you're American.
    6) They spend billions to protect us from Mexicans just trying to earn a living.
    7) The police in local towns drive around in militaristic looking cars and dress in clothing looking like they just walked off a battlefield in the middle east.
    8) We are forced to alter our lifestyle due to 19 Saudi a**holes who take down 2 of our biggest buildings, one of which I worked in.
    9) Radar units everywhere on the street.
    10) Drones soon to be flying over our heads so "they" can check us out.

    NOTE: Not picking on the police - have 2 in the family and a 3rd who was an MP during 2 tours in the middle east.

    Sorry, the more power you give the government the more they want -
    "Workin' in the fields
    Til you get your back burned
    Workin' 'neath the wheel
    Till you get your facts learned
    Baby got my facts
    Learned real good right now
    Poor man want to be rich
    Rich man want to be king
    And a king ain't satisfied
    Till he rules everything
    I want to go out tonight
    I want to find out what I got"
    Bruce Springsteen 1978

    I want to take my own chances - I'm real tired of the government getting in the face of America more and more every day.

    I'll pass on the insurance company wanting to keep track of my every move. They're probably not going to like what they see every once in a while anyway. But thanks for asking.

    Oh, and by the way please don't let the government see this post.

  4. #4
    Cowboyatheart
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    Me too Billy!
    Neil
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  5. #5
    Registered User arthurdent's Avatar
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    Frankly I expect nothing less than this from our PC policy Test Bed of the North. And I expect the Grand Mufti insurance companies to get on the bandwagon to start selling this Kool Aid in the US.

    And people wonder why I don't seem to trust any governmental agencies...

  6. #6
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Careful folks, a political bent doesn't seem that far away! Let's keep it coolish, OK?

    Thanks...
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
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  7. #7
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    Kurt, at some point will it become obvious that motorcyclists should have been discussing what is coming down the pike? The insurance thing mentioned by OP is the gateway. But I understand how outta control discussing anything governmental can get. It shouldn't be, but it is what it is. There's no free political discussion lunch.

  8. #8
    K'nothead
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy walker View Post
    I'm getting very tired of Big Brother and all the comrades overlooking society.
    Certainly no mistaking your opinion of it, Billy, and I'm sure you have no lack of people that will agree with you, but I'd prefer this thread not descend into that tired rhetoric, if possible. Smartphones, GM'S On-Star, etc. do much of the same tracking and they are as ubiquitous as bad drivers (coincidence?). Rail all you want, none of this is going away anytime soon.

    As mentioned, this technology has been in place in car insurance for some time, particularly in the US. In every application, it is entirely voluntary, and is primarily used to *reduce* premiums. By all accounts, actual customer experiences of this tech are quite positive. Since the original rate proposal, I have been working extensively with SGI and some provincial politicians and as unbelievable as it may sound, I have come to believe that they truly want to understand and help motorcyclists avoid ever-increasing premiums. Far from being a dark Socialist regime foisting this on freedom-loving Saskatchewan motorcyclists, this is a locally-owned business willing to expend considerable effort and take some chances in response to customer demand for better solutions. I`d suggest a private insurance company might not be so bold or caring.

    Regardless, I`m not particularly interested in debating Politics or the philosophical implications of "Big Brother", Collectivism or similar strawmen. It's not that I can't hold and identify with the opinions and peoples' right to them, it's that putting tin foil on my head and huffily denouncing earnest attempts to change things for the better, only guarantees they will get worse. Of course I have doubts about this tech and it's application(s), but in this case, I find the technical questions have far more elusive and interesting answers than the rote, philosophical ones.

    JP

  9. #9
    BMW Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by jopars View Post
    Certainly no mistaking your opinion of it, Billy, and I'm sure you have no lack of people that will agree with you, but I'd prefer this thread not descend into that tired rhetoric, if possible. Smartphones, GM'S On-Star, etc. do much of the same tracking and they are as ubiquitous as bad drivers (coincidence?). Rail all you want, none of this is going away anytime soon.

    As mentioned, this technology has been in place in car insurance for some time, particularly in the US. In every application, it is entirely voluntary, and is primarily used to *reduce* premiums. By all accounts, actual customer experiences of this tech are quite positive. Since the original rate proposal, I have been working extensively with SGI and some provincial politicians and as unbelievable as it may sound, I have come to believe that they truly want to understand and help motorcyclists avoid ever-increasing premiums. Far from being a dark Socialist regime foisting this on freedom-loving Saskatchewan motorcyclists, this is a locally-owned business willing to expend considerable effort and take some chances in response to customer demand for better solutions. I`d suggest a private insurance company might not be so bold or caring.

    Regardless, I`m not particularly interested in debating Politics or the philosophical implications of "Big Brother", Collectivism or similar strawmen. It's not that I can't hold and identify with the opinions and peoples' right to them, it's that putting tin foil on my head and huffily denouncing earnest attempts to change things for the better, only guarantees they will get worse. Of course I have doubts about this tech and it's application(s), but in this case, I find the technical questions have far more elusive and interesting answers than the rote, philosophical ones.

    JP
    I don't know how good the equipment is at this point in time on a car or motorcycle. Even if poor it will continue to be developed and at some point will "arrive". I really don't see this being beneficial. Insurance is meant to spread across the masses in order for individuals to have a reasonable rate. Devices of this nature will tend to harm IMO. Transportation is actually used in ways that many times break the law. And, most of us do it from time to time. That's one reason why you have S1000RR's. My answer remains firm however as I personally want nothing to do with a device of this nature.

    I would imagine at some point in time something like this will become mandatory. What will we do then when we have the urge to step on it?

  10. #10
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    What I don't understand in the original post is the insane proposed rates. I insure 3 bikes, ride heck out of them and the SOs pair, for about 25% of that proposed rate. And that's with Progressive, probably the largest motorsports insurer in the US where a lot of the country can ride 12 mths of the year. How in heck do a bunch of Canadians with a short riding season need 4X the cash to make a profit? (Is it perhaps medical costs related to rider-caused accidents?) Progessive spends boatloads on TV ads trying to get more customers- they're obviously making plety of money. That proposed rate is ludicrous right off the bat...Sounds like you need our NC insurance commissioner- who routinely declines every proposed rate increase by every insurance company of any type than runs it through a process that either turns it into rebates or at least trims it to minimal. And it pisses off the industry enough that our newly Republican legislature would like to eliminate the position. When the insurance guys mount court challenges they almost always lose. Anyway, you need to be starting with the logic and management of your govt agency- which if staffed by former private industry folks can be guaranteed to not be on a logic basis that makes any sense to others.

    Still, I'll be interested in what you learn. The biggest problems to such data, to me, are the automatic assumptions linked to using it- for which I doubt aynthing that would meet scientific proof of causality (as opposed to simple correlation) exists. Particularly in recent years, distracted drivers with devices have become a rapidly increasing cause of crashes and I don't doubt putting electronics on bikes will cause the same kind of shift it has in cages.
    Those speed accel devices need radio receivers and connections to all vehcile electronics so they can monitor device use as well. And ultimately, there is no way to measure a persons judgement which is probably the best predictor of rider-caused accidents. And how the heck does one factor in riding environment other than by geography- for example, simply going into town where I live raises my chance of an accident by a factor of more than 2- but I rarely take a bike there so its not relevant to me..At 66, the vehicles I've had repaired have all been hit while parked by folks who were old or drunk...

  11. #11
    Rally Rat
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    Seems to me our friends to the north need insurance competition. I insure 2 bikes, one full coverage, the other just liability, for $300/year. Here in PA I can pretty much ride year round if I choose and the road conditions allow (no precip under 32 degrees), so it would seem my oportunities to be involved in a crash are greater down here. Obviously there are more motorcyclists paying into the system the farther south you go, so the ratio of income vs. payout is better. Maybe SGI should tie the Snow Machine insurance pool in with the motorcycles, or, if the crash rate is so high for motorcycles, you might consider some rider training......

    I, too, am tired of all the do gooders in both government and the private sector who want to observe everything we do "for our safety", or better yet, to "keep the children safe", I mean, how can you argue with that? But as mentioned, that gets us into another discussion that also might not be "safe" for this forum.

    Soon it will be just the "Rich" in Canada who can afford this sport due to insurance costs. Canadians will be sneaking into the country just to ride.

  12. #12
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    I too was shocked last year when a Manitoban mentioned the high insurance for his scooter. when up there even in summertime I see very few if any two wheelers around, most Harleys, which likely have much higher rates. The idea of tracking any vehicle by insurance/government for our own good is so repugnant. The essence of freedom is embodied in riding a motorcycle, each generation either protects its freedoms, or, you get the rest. When the point is reached in Saskatchewan that riders have to raise their voices after the fact, the deed is done, the clamps are on, it's only a matter of how and when the pressure is applied. Hats off to Canada for the heads up. the insurance on my old airhead is so cheap I'm ashamed to mention it.

  13. #13
    K'nothead
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    The high insurance rates in Saskatchewan and Manitoba reflect the impact of no-fault insurance schemes when motorcycles are not exempted or handled differently. Essentially, no-fault is synonymous with personal injury protection (PIP), where each motorist insures themself for medical and related costs in an accident. Being more vulnerable, motorcyclists should expect higher costs for this type of insurance to cover the additional risk. In most US States where no-fault is in effect, motorcyclists are specifically exempted from this provision, thus "transfer" any associated costs to private medical plans or, if another party is at fault, retain the ability to sue them for damages. Unfortunately, in the approximately 50% of motorcycle accidents where the rider is at fault, this can leave the rider without adequate compensation.

    It has been argued that Sask and Manitoba have very comprehensive and generous benefits for PIP, and one area that SGI is looking at is reducing the coverage for motorcyclists. Obviously, this is a double-edged sword and is not an optimal solution. SGI already internally transfers all such costs to the at-fault party, so the payouts in the motorcycle category only reflect the motorcyclist at-fault figures, and still the rates continue to rise. Being a crown corp, all of SGI's figures are publicly available, and neither profit (i.e. in vehicle insurance), nor excessive executive compensation is a factor.

    Motorcyclists are not significantly worse riders in Saskatchewan than anywhere else, so similar pressures exist everywhere. In a single-payer medical system such as Canada, the costs of motorcycle accidents are a little easier to quantify, whereas in a diffuse medical environment such as the US, they can be extremely difficult to pull together. Still, as data tracking and analysis improves, motorcyclists cannot continue to expect preferential and subsidized treatment. Please understand, I'm not defending or agreeing with this analysis, just merely pointing out that counter-arguments of, "This is bullsh1t!", are unhelpful and ineffective.

    JP

  14. #14
    Registered User WalterK75's Avatar
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    Is the question of where one rides their motorcycle/scooter taken into account? City vs rural? Changes in risk depending on riding environment.
    Walter

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  15. #15
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jopars View Post
    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.
    Based on what I saw on the SGI website, I see your rates increasing in 2013, but not to $3500. However, you might be referring to changes for 2014.

    What really surprised me was the comparison of Car and MC insurance rates. From what is posted, it's cheaper to insure a new BMW 3-series than your trusty 1993 R1100RS (which is a fine choice of ride)! That is truly screwed-up.
    Cave contents: 99 R11RS, 2013 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & DW744

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