In an effort to combat the increasing number of accidents in Doha, Qatar Insurance Company (QIC) and the Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC) have teamed up to create an entirely new model of car insurance in Qatar.
The plan would involve giving drivers discounts and incentives based on their road habits.
Currently, car insurance premiums are based on factors like car model, age and mileage. But the new model would entail gauging a motorist’s speeding patterns, distance driven and other habits.
Speaking at a press conference today, the CEO of QMIC, Dr. Adnan Abu-Dayya, described the new insurance model as “timely and necessary,” saying:
“Through it, we aim to contribute to improving road safety in Qatar, to deliver innovative solutions and insurance to the public, and to use the technology created by QMIC to do so.”
No timeline has been set for the new project, which would use QMIC’s Masarak Intelligent Telematics System, a kind of “black box” that will be fitted inside each car to monitor select key driving habits such as acceleration, deceleration, speeding and the distance driven.
Data collected would be used by QMIC to create a driver scorecard or index, which would allow motorists to be ranked based on their behavior on the road.
QIC would use the data to create insurance packages unique to each driver, including adding incentives such as discounts on insurance plans and increased services for good drivers.
When asked whether people would be penalized with higher premiums for poor driving, officials did not clarify their position.
However, QMIC Chairman Abdullah Al Talib said:
“The future is security. We hope to use the data that we collect and co-operate with our stakeholders (i.e. drivers), to use this data to give them feedback about their driving, to incentivize better behavior on the road, and to improve road safety overall.”
Al Talib added that testing of the system will begin shortly and last a few months. Some 40 members of staff from both companies had signed up to be volunteers.
The pilot is expected to determine whether the black box would be a permanent installation in vehicles that provides constant feedback, or simply a short-term feature that covers a few months or weeks of drivers’ behavior.
The ultimate goal, according to Abu-Dayya, would be to use smartphones, which are present in 92 percent of all mainstream households locally, to provide constant feedback to QIC and QMIC about key driving habits.
Road safety woes
Qatar’s traffic problems have worsened over the years.
Accident statistics released as part of the government’s new monthly statistics bulletins over the past few months have demonstrated the extent of the problem.
For example, there were 436 road traffic accidents in April (down slightly from 443 in March) resulting in 24 deaths, and 48 casualties with major injuries. 355 people sustained minor injuries.
Additionally, the police also recorded 26,477 ‘simple accidents’ last month, the statistics show, although no detail about the definition for these incidents has been given.
Also in April, some 160,955 traffic violations were recorded, mainly for speeding, but also for not following road traffic signs and not renewing car registration or driver’s licenses.
That’s up significantly from the nearly 94,000 citations issued the previous month.
And according to a report released earlier this year by the Qatar Road Safety Studies Center (QRSSC), road accidents have cost Qatar more than $5 billion (QR17.6 billion) over the past six years.