Insurance is typically viewed as an old-school industry that’s not very sexy. But Cambridge Mobile Telematics VP Ryan McMahon thinks insurance gets a bad wrap in that respect. As the latest guest on Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast, his company is innovating actuarial work and safer roads.
McMahon’s firm accomplishes that by capitalizing on the powerful computer we all carry around (and drive around) in our pockets. Given all its sensors like GPS and accelerometers, the modern smartphone packs ample situational awareness. One of the things it can do is detect signals that indicate driving quality.
“It’s not using the apps on the phone or the data coming off the phone — it’s just looking at the sensors,” said McMahon. “It’s looking at the accelerometer, it’s using the gyroscope, the barometer and the GPS, to then determine all those risk factors, how they contribute to an individual, and then how to improve them. And ultimately, over time, we don’t just measure risk but improve drivers and make the roads safer.”
The company has refined its software to be able to detect and infer signals that can evaluate driving quality. Working with insurance companies, its technology is then white-labeled and deployed via smartphone apps to consumers. On an individual basis, they can then track driving.
Armed with this data, insurance companies can then assess risk as well as reward and incentivize good behavior. That offers both altruistic and business advantages. Safer roads are a clear outcome, but the company also helps insurance firms by preventing road incidents.
This is analogous to the paradigm shift in the healthcare world where “quantified self-movement” (made possible by wearables, biometric trackers, etc.) can allow insurance companies to track and reward healthy behavior through reduced premiums. Cambridge Mobile Telematics applies this same principle to driving.
“CMT didn’t invent telematics, but we did invent mobile telematics,” said McMahon. “There were other methodologies that were here before us looking at extracting data from a vehicle or from an OBD port or other devices fitted to a car. But nothing was delivering regular feedback after every single drive. Similar to the health area, you really need that data on a regular basis.”
We discuss these and other dynamics with McMahon on the latest episode of Heard on the Street. Check out the full episode above, find out more about Heard on the Street, and see our entire episode archive here. Contact us if you’d like to sponsor an episode and stay tuned for Street Fight’s updated media kit.