Usage Based Insurance – Past the Pain of Battery Drain?

UBI Battery DrainSince the dawn of usage based insurance programs, the issue of battery drain has been an underlying concern. But has that concern now been resolved?

Battery drain woes began with the OBD device …

One leading insurer offering an OBD-based UBI program was named in a class action lawsuit that claimed among other things that the OBD device “always drains a vehicle’s battery, making the battery worth less than it would be without the device. Many times a vehicle’s battery is drained to the point that the battery is non-functional.” The underlying problem with OBD vehicle battery drain is that the OBD device was never intended to run in a vehicle on a continuous basis. It was originally designed to plug into the vehicle’s CAN-bus for a few minutes to take some diagnostic readings.

Battery drain continued to be a concern with first generation smartphone UBI apps …

The main culprit behind smartphone battery drain is the Global Position System (GPS) component. If a smartphone runs a GPS to determine the user’s exact location at any given moment (UBI-related or not), battery life will be impacted. While the GPS is acquiring and comparing satellite signals, the phone is unable to enter a sleep mode. According to Forbes, a smartphone’s ability to retain battery life is largely dependent on its ability to quickly enter and exit sleep mode.

An obvious solution is to simply plug the smartphone into a charger anytime one is driving. However, this is not realistic. For a smartphone UBI solution to be successful, it must be completely non-reliant on the driver. We can’t take the risk that driving data quality will be diluted because drivers forget to turn their phones on and charge them while driving.

What do consumers think about UBI battery drain?

In July 2014, Towers Watson conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers. Among other things, they asked consumers for their thoughts about UBI battery drain. Here’s what they said:

  • 39% would accept noticeable drain on battery life that impacts daily usage.
  • 76% wouldn’t mind a modest drain that doesn’t impact daily use.

A next-generation solution that meets consumers’ needs …

While all smartphone UBI apps are not created equal, some have managed to overcome the battery drain hurdle, including us here at Driveway Software. In our 2014 Driveway Data Challenge, we closely monitored battery drain. On average, the Driveway Software app had an average battery drain of 7 percent a day. Not bad, right? We feel that anything less than 10 percent daily battery drain is most likely acceptable to users and this is confirmed by the Towers Watson data.

Final charge …

Now that you know the facts, you can see … smartphone UBI is indeed past the pain of battery drain. Of course, this factor is a major consideration as you choose your smartphone UBI partner.

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