Telematics is a voluntary system, which is already used in Quebec and is very common across the US. The technology measures how many kilometres a car is driven, and whether the driver follows the speed limits on the roads. The system also analyzes how many times a driver slams hard on the brakes, and whether corners are taken too fast, too wide, or too narrow. The data is transmitted to the driver’s insurance company, which adjusts the driver’s insurance rates accordingly.
David Hodgins, a psychology professor at the University of Calgary, believes Albertan drivers will greatly benefit from the telematics system if it is given the green light. Hodgins believes that driving is very psychological, and that people are willing to make changes if their habits are proven to be negative.
“If we see ourselves in one way and then we get evidence that we are behaving in a different way then we have either to change our behaviour or change how we see ourselves.”
The telematics technology was initially developed in Europe, when regulators demanded that insurers stop inflating car insurance rates based on gender. Young male drivers in Europe were seen as reckless, and more likely to end up in car accidents. Telematics allows a driver to prove they are more responsible on the road than others in their demographic insurance grouping, which can reduce their personal car insurance rates.
Heather Mack, Director of Government Relations for IBC Alberta, believes telematics is inevitable. However, the technology must be thoroughly reviewed to prevent any breaches of Canadian privacy laws.
“Insurers in Canada are getting ready to go with it but because it is a new form of insurance, we have to wait to see how it is going to be regulated because there are some privacy concerns about the data being collected and how it is used.”