17 Apr 2014
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TOWER launches app to reward safe Kiwi drivers

For the first time in New Zealand, safe drivers can benefit from lower insurance premiums based on their individual driving performance - thanks to an innovative free smartphone app offered by TOWER.

'SmartDriver' monitors and assesses an individual’s driving behaviour based on 250 kilometres of travel, rewarding drivers who score well with a discount on motor premiums of up to 20 per cent.

TOWER CEO David Hancock says TOWER's strategy of innovating for the benefit of its customers is evidenced by the launch of SmartDriver.

"The insurance industry does not have a reputation for innovation, but TOWER is committed to delivering relevant products and better value to customers to help them protect the things they care about," he says.

"This app is the first of its kind to be launched in Australasia.

“We’re really excited about SmartDriver’s potential to help customers in two ways - saving safe drivers money on premiums and encouraging safer driving for all New Zealanders.”

TOWER General Manager – Customer Proposition Mark Savage says the app means motor vehicle insurance premiums can now be determined using an individual’s driving behaviour, rather than solely relying on averaged claims risk and demographic data such as age and location.

“This kind of user-based-insurance – or UBI – has the potential to dramatically change the motor insurance market," he adds.

"TOWER has been monitoring the overseas experience for some time and we felt as a nation of drivers it made perfect sense to introduce it here.

“UBI provides fairer pricing to customers based on their driving, not just that of the population at large. And there is the huge advantage of making those using the app more conscious of their behaviour on the road.”

Savage says telematics, the technology behind UBI, enables driving data to be gathered and transmitted directly from a vehicle on the road to the insurer. The insurer can monitor, analyse, score and then adjust premiums accordingly.

“By collecting basic driving information such as trip duration, distance travelled, location, braking and acceleration, we can build an understanding of driving behaviour and individual risk and adjust premiums accordingly," he adds.

"The app also allows customers to see their score versus the average score calculated from all the SmartDriver users who have completed 250 kilometres using the app.

“We’re delighted to be able to now offer this technology in New Zealand. Given that over 60 per cent of Kiwis own a smartphone, we expect SmartDriver to be extremely popular.”

As well as providing points for set achievements, after every trip, SmartDriver also provides a trip summary and safe driving tips to help motorists improve their driving behaviour.

SmartDriver can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play, with the phone placed in a car using a cradle or in a stable position on the dashboard or centre console tray. It is available to all New Zealand drivers, regardless of whether or not they are a TOWER customer.

Ernst Zӧllner, Road Safety Director at the NZ Transport Agency, says any technology that has the potential to contribute to making New Zealand roads safer for users is positive.

“Creating a safe road system depends on safer vehicles, users, roads and roadsides, and safer speeds," Zӧllner adds.

"It’s really good to see a private insurer sharing responsibility for improving road safety by using technology and incentivising smart choices.

"This is consistent with Safer Journeys, the Government’s road safety strategy to 2020.”

Mac Fraser, CIO of DriveFactor, the company that developed the SmartDriver app for TOWER, says he is pleased New Zealanders can now realise the benefits of user-based insurance through the introduction of SmartDriver.

“Telematics has been extremely popular around the world as people love to compare themselves to others and of course to save money on their insurance," he adds.

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