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AAA, Google and the Adoption of Insurance Telematics

Chris McMahon
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 17, 2014

Detroit’s North American International Auto Show and the Consumer Electronics Show are on now, highlighting the latest technologies available. And the technology for “connected cars,” those equipped navigation, infotainment, traffic management, and advanced safety features, like crash response, are a big part of both shows.  

With the Auto Show and CES as a backdrop, two very different companies have made announcements that should be of interest to the insurance industry, especially those pursuing insurance telematics programs.

The Automobile Association of America is urging companies offering those sorts of services to adopt its new “Consumer Rights for Car Data,” which the company says will protect drivers. The second is Google, which has created the Open Automotive Alliance, which is promoting the use of “open standards of innovation,” by urging standardization on the Android operating system in automotive technology.

“Partnering with Google and the OAA on an ecosystem that spans across vehicles and handheld mobile devices furthers our mission to bring vehicles into our owners digital lives and their digital lives into their vehicles,” said Mary Chan, president of General Motors' Global Connected Consumer unit. “We see huge opportunities for the Android platform paired with OnStar 4G LTE connectivity in future Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles.”

The Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) would enable automakers to use a “platform-centric approach that enables high-quality application development in a way that is purpose built for cars,” according to the OAA. “With one platform to target, rather than a patchwork of platforms from different automakers, developers will be able to focus on delivering a powerful experience for users.”

The alliance includes Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Group, which includes KIA and NVIDIA and according to the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA); cars with Android integration are expected before the end of 2014.

“The car is the ultimate mobile computer. With onboard supercomputing chips, futuristic cars of our dreams will no longer be science fiction,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO, NVIDIA. “The OAA will enable the car industry to bring these amazing cars to market faster. We believe that a common platform will help drive innovation, and make technology in the car safer and more intuitive for everyone. This open development model and common platform will allow automakers to more easily bring cutting-edge technology to their drivers, and create new opportunities for developers to deliver powerful experiences for drivers and passengers in a safe and scalable way.”

The lack of standards is one of the major hurdles for insurers looking to offer insurance telematics programs. The adoption of a standard, any standard, could greatly facilitate the growth of insurance telematics programs and offer insurers a modicum of certainty about their technology investments in them.

And then there’s the other thing insurers should think about. While the word insurance doesn’t appear anywhere in the OAA’s release or on their website, rapid adoption of Google’s Android operating system in autos could give Google access to an enormous wealth of driving data, which could potentially be used for insurance purposes, by Google or its partners.

“Millions of people are already familiar with Android and use it everyday,” said Sundar Pichai, SVP of Android, Chrome and Apps at Google. “The expansion of the Android platform into automotive will allow our industry partners to more easily integrate mobile technology into cars and offer drivers a familiar, seamless experience so they can focus on the road.”

Another development that could speed the growth of insurance telematics, AAA is urging businesses, the government and other organizations to help ensure the rights of transparency, choice and security, all of which are frequently cited consumer concerns related to insurance telematics, and that are slowing consumer uptake of the technology.

AAA’s Consumer Rights for Car Data

  1. Transparency – Consumers have a right to clearly understand what information is being collected from their vehicle and how it is being used. Businesses and the government should be transparent about the collection and use of vehicle data.
  2. Choice– Consumers have a right to decide with whom to share their data and for what purpose. This includes ongoing monitoring of vehicle systems, repair and any data of the vehicle owner’s choice.  Customers should not be forced to relinquish control as a condition of purchasing or leasing a vehicle or of receiving a connected-vehicle service.
  3. Security– Consumers have a right to expect that connected-vehicle manufacturers and service providers will use reasonable measures to protect vehicle data systems and services against unauthorized access and misuse.

“Many connected car features are made possible through the collection of large amounts of potentially sensitive data from drivers,” said Bob Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA. “Companies collecting, using and sharing data from cars should do everything possible to protect consumer rights as they offer these exciting technologies.”

Chris McMahon is a senior editor for Insurance Networking News.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Chris by using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He also can be reached at chris.mcmahon@sourcemedia.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

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