Norwich Union to expand 'pay-as-you-drive' insurance trials

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The Independent Online

The insurance company Norwich Union has widened the scope of the trial for its "pay-as-you-drive" insurance scheme and signed up Intec Telecom Systems to provide itemised monthly bills.

Norwich Union is expanding its pay-as-you-drive scheme to about 100,000 users by the end of the year after conducting trials involving around 5,000 UK motorists and 1,500 younger drivers over the past 18 months.

The system works by putting a black box in a customer's car that uses Global Positioning System, or GPS, to monitor the driver's motoring usage before feeding the information into Norwich Union's central databases over a secure mobile network.

The insurance company can then calculate an accurate risk premium for individual drivers based on a cost-per-mile tariff. The hi-tech system should benefit conservative or infrequent drivers who currently pay similar premiums to motorists who regularly use their vehicles. The data could also be used to calculate the road tax individual drivers are liable to pay. Another potential use could be to monitor whether a driver is reckless and prone to speeding or driving dangerously when calculating risk premiums.

A Norwich Union spokesman declined to say when the company plans to launch the technology into the mass market, but said that, over the coming months, it will use the information gathered from the 100,000 users to consider how best to market and deploy the system.

For Intec, the contract win expands the use of its billing technology into a new market. Intec provides billing systems to telecoms companies including Virgin Mobile and Vodafone and said the process of rating and charging for vehicle usage is similar to the billing process used in telecoms.

Norwich Union is the largest car insurer in the UK and has experienced significant interest from its customers in the "pay-as-you-drive" scheme. Similar projects have been launched in the US and South Africa.