Car InsurTech ThingCo aims to give drivers more control whilst helping them drive safer.
The internet of things has transformed everything from shopping and home security to how we listen to music and adjust the temperature in our homes. The insurance industry is not immune to its influence. After all, car insurers having used telematics technology for over a decade. So hooking it up to other smart devices was not a huge leap to make.
However, Mike Brockman wants to change the game in a big way. He is the CEO and founder of ThingCo, the InsurTech startup. “Thingco is all about taking telematics to the next level, to the next generation of telematics,” says Brockman.
The enterprise’s unique offering is centred around Theo, a smart voice-controlled dashcam. “So you’ve got voice, camera and telematics all in one,” Brockman explains. “It’s the voice that makes the big difference. Because with intelligent voice you can provide a lot of in-car services to turn any car into a smart car, so that you can talk to it and it can talk to you in situations of emergency in situations of an accident, or simply saying, ‘Hey, watch out. The next corner is a known black spot.’”
Moreover, the user can choose to use the data recorded to get lower premiums and even collect rewards, depending on how safely they drive. However, that choice is the one of the key things that differentiate ThingCo from other insurance initiatives. Whilst other InsurTech companies may send that data directly to the insurers, it’s up to the user to decide what to do with the data collected from Theo. “We collect 1,000 pieces of information a second from this product and that data is yours, not these horrible insurers who use the data against you,” Brockman
He adds, “If you don’t want the services don’t have it and no one will know if you’re a terrible driver with a terrible driving score, keep it to yourself, no one’s going to know about it.”
In case of an accident, Theo is set up to immediately check if the user is okay, to connect the driver with ThingCo’s accident team and to alert emergency services if needed. Brockman believes this will be especially important for older drivers who often find themselves increasingly worried about hitting the roads. With Theo, he’s certain they can be assured that they would get help quickly if they need it. “You don’t have to do anything, we can coach you through the whole situation and call out emergency services if it is necessary,” Brockman explains. “It hopefully makes older people a bit more confident to drive.”
However, this is just the beginning
For instance, they ThingCo is currently considering adding an advertising feature to the mix. “We’re developing what we call a promoted message service,” Brockman says, adding that he’s conscious about the ads not being intrusive.
As an example of what he wants to avoid, Brockman points at Google’s Waze app and how the ads on it cover the screen even when driving. “I think it’s a bit dangerous,” he says. Instead, the ads on Theo will be designed to be quick spoken messages that won’t be too obtrusive.
Moreover, the ads can be combined in a way to boost the safety of the driver. “Theo could also do things like saying, ‘Hey, you’ve been driving two hours, so it’s a good time to take a break and we just arranged a free cup of coffee at the next Starbucks,’” Brockman explains. “It opens up a whole new way of risk managing your journey in a very customer centric way.”
With the scope of the vision he has in mind, it is easy to forget how new the startup is. “We’re only 20 months in now,” Brockman says. “In that space, we’ve already got our first product out to consumers who are buying it. We’re understanding what they want. We’re understanding what our devices need to deliver. And we have a next generation on the go already to address some of the feedback and making use of developments in solar energy. We’ll have another one on the-go after that and another one after that. So you’ve always got to be looking at how technology can make your product better and how it can generate better consumer value. And that’s what we’re all about really.”
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