With the number of collisions on Qatar’s roads continuing to increase, a local insurance firm is giving its customers a financial incentive to drive safer.
Qatar Insurance Co. (QIC) is offering lower insurance premiums to motorists who can prove that they are driving safely by using a mobile phone app, which tracks behavior such as rapid acceleration, harsh braking and speeding.
“We want people to pay based on how they drive,” QIC executive vice-president Frederik Bisbjerg told Doha News last month.
The insurance company recently published a survey that found the majority of motorists in Qatar believe the country’s roads are becoming more dangerous and are seeing higher incidents of speeding and aggressive lane changing.
QIC previously told Doha News that encouraging motorists to change their behavior will not only save lives, but also improve the company’s bottom line since fewer collisions mean fewer insurance claims.
Popular in the UK
The firm says it’s the first time in the Middle East that a vehicle insurance premium is being directly tied to actual behavior behind the wheel.
However, similar technology is exploding in popularity elsewhere. In the UK, nearly 455,000 drivers have opted to use an app or have a small monitoring device installed in their vehicle in exchange for the opportunity to save money on their premiums, according to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association.
Commonly called “telematic motor policies,” the system is particularly popular in that country with young drivers, who are statistically more likely to be involved in a collision and are typically forced to pay higher insurance premiums.
While some companies say such monitoring equipment can reduce collisions involving young drivers by up to 40 percent, the UK government says the data is inconclusive.
Elsewhere, privacy concerns have reduced the appeal of such technology.
In the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, for example, many motorists appear uncomfortable with their driving being monitored.
“We’ve been advertising quite heavily on the radio and seems like people are very leery about having this device in their vehicle for the insurance companies to look at,” Christine Gaudreau, the vice-president of OTC Insurance, told the CBC. “I think it’s probably more of a big brother situation … I’m not comfortable with it in my car.”
As the technology has become more widespread, questions have emerged about how the data on their driving is being collected and stored, as well as if it could be used against if a collision led to a court case.
Others, meanwhile, wonder if the technology will eventually be used to raise premiums for those who drive badly.
QIC says its app will not be used to penalize motorists that fail to achieve the minimum score needed to be eligible for lower rates.
“There’s no downside to this,” Bisbjerg said in a statement. “Your car insurance premium will not increase – this only has a positive side, namely the additional discount.”
QIC’s app is currently only available for iPhones, although there are plans to expand it to Android devices in the future. It can be downloaded here.
Will you use the app? Thoughts?