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'We are building a bigger digital capability': Tower CEO David Hancock

Divina Paredes | April 16, 2014
Launch of SmartDriver app is first in a series of technology innovations from the insurance company.


Insurance company Tower is expanding its digital capability and will be releasing in upcoming months a series of innovations in this space.

As part of this, Tower CEO David Hancock says the company is recruiting for the newly-created role of head of digital experience.

"It is all about innovation in the technical space," Hancock tells CIO New Zealand, at the launch this week of Tower's free smartphone app 'SmartDriver'.

"We are building a bigger digital capability. This is part of it," says Hancock of the app, which he claims is the first of its kind to be launched in Australasia.

'SmartDriver'' -- available on Apple App Store or Google Play - monitors and assesses an individual's driving behaviour, based on 250 kilometres of travel. Drivers who score well can then gain a discount on motor premiums of up to 20 per cent.

"If you are prepared to share your data with us, we interpret the data, you get things in return for it, it is very much about personalisation," states Hancock. "Digital makes that happen."

He discloses that more innovations will come out in upcoming months, as Tower is committed to inventing or working with different partners on "great pieces of technology. "

Mark Savage, general manager, customer proposition, says digital entails providing "options around customer needs, through digital channels".

Savage explains that the head of digital experience, who will be his direct report, will be the "champion for digital technology and will relate to what the customer needs". These include looking at the "usability of sites and tools. "

Driving for change

Hancock says the SmartDriver app will promote safe driving, as shown by trials of Tower staff and their families, and in overseas markets.

"As soon as someone installs this on their device, their behaviour actually starts to change. It is fascinating, they do become better drivers," says Hancock.

He notes: "Why should people who are safe drivers subsidise those who are bad drivers?"

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.

Savage adds that the app means motor vehicle insurance premiums can now be based on 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 .

According to Savage, 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.


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