The AA drives back into 'black box' car tracking with new joint venture

The AA drives back into 'black box' car tracking with new joint venture - Telegraph

The AA is jumping back into “black box” car tracking with a new joint venture, just over a year after it shelved one of its telematics insurance products because of the high costs.

The motoring services firm said it will develop “a wide range of services” using "connected car" technology, which beams technical data from vehicles to passengers and roadside assistance clubs through a small device connected to the internet.

The AA said it will be able to pre-empt and diagnose breakdowns more quickly using the in-car data, and that this could also affect car insurance prices for those who allow their driving styles to be monitored.

This is familiar ground for the firm, which introduced its Drivesafe telematics car insurance in 2012, with claims of lower premiums for motorists who recorded themselves driving safely. However, the company withdrew these policies from the market in 2014, blaming the costs involved in equipping and monitoring the cars.

Meanwhile, the firm has been experimenting with other in-car devices and software to harness more data from drivers.

The new Intelematics Europe venture pairs the AA with an Australian data company of the same name that already runs similar projects, and several roadside assistance clubs in the Netherlands and Austria.

"The AA is embracing connected-car technology so that our members will benefit directly through advancements in safety and security, and information to help reduce driving costs,” said Bob Mackenzie, executive chairman of the AA. “Connectivity will improve both timing and diagnostics of the AA's roadside assistance services and enable us to increase efficiency."

A number of big car insurers are attempting to take advantage of in-car data, but are struggling to make the monitoring service worthwhile for motorists. Most firms are currently targeting younger drivers, who might not be able to afford car insurance without sharing their driving data.

Aviva, meanwhile, recently launched a new app to encourage motorists to test their driving skills for free, with the prospect of cheaper insurance for those who can demonstrate safe road behaviour.

The AA, which floated on the stock market in 2014, swung to a loss last year as membership numbers declined. The firm has ventured into credit cards and mortgages in a bid to expand its business.