Income launches usage-based motor insurance

Drive Master tracks when a motorist is active, the distance he clocks, if he keeps to speed limits and if he accelerates or brakes hard.
Drive Master tracks when a motorist is active, the distance he clocks, if he keeps to speed limits and if he accelerates or brakes hard.PHOTO: NTUC INCOME

Distance driven, driving habits tracked through app, black box

Motor insurance giant NTUC Income has launched two schemes offering discounts to motorists if they drive well or drive less.

Income's Drive Master is a smartphone-based app that tracks what time of day a motorist is on the road, the distance he clocks, whether he keeps to speed limits and if he accelerates or brakes hard.

Based on scores accumulated for the four components over a minimum of 5,000km, a driver stands to get discounts of between 5 per cent and 20 per cent on his insurance premium.

The other scheme - FlexiMileage - uses a black box device plugged into the car to track distance travelled in a year. Drivers who clock no more than 9,000km stand to save 20 per cent, while those who clock less than 5,000km could get a 35 per cent discount.

Income vice-president of motor insurance Bill O'Connell said Drive Master "allows drivers to be more aware of their driving behaviour, ultimately giving them the ability to influence their insurance premiums".

He said the system - developed by Russia's Raxel Telematics - will be able to work in tunnels and Malaysia. "It also knows if you are on the MRT or a bus," he said, Over time, it will learn the policyholder's driving style and does not record if another person is driving.

But the system is unable to detect other behaviours such as aggressive cornering, illegal U-turns or turning without signalling.

Asked if Income would turn over evidence to the Traffic Police, he said: "I doubt Traffic Police will come to us for evidence, but if we are required by law, we will comply."

Motorist Vincent Tan said the Income scheme "is not a bad idea". The 39-year-old financial controller said having the company track his whereabouts "is not a major issue".

Such insurance schemes have been applied in Europe and the United States. A few other insurers here have made tentative steps towards introducing similar schemes.

In January, MSIG Singapore launched a trial to reward safe drivers with discounts of up to 20 per cent by tracking their driving behaviour via a device installed in the car.

In May, AXA launched a similar plan, but only for private-hire drivers. Its pay-as-you-drive policy for Grab drivers varies premiums based on mileage clocked.

Last month, Liberty Insurance launched a search for the safest driver. Through its DriveWell phone app, drivers will be judged on five key components: braking, acceleration, cornering, speed and phone use.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline 'Income launches usage-based motor insurance'. Print Edition | Subscribe