Desjardins Develops and Offers The Ajusto Smartphone App

2016 ICTA Nomination.   Technology by Cambridge Mobile Telematics.

Desjardins General Insurance Group (DGIG) was the first Canadian insurer to widely offer usage based insurance (UBI) in the large Ontario and Quebec markets when it launched its Ajusto telematics program in May 2013. Using a device that plugs into a vehicle’s OBDII port, the Ajusto program offered customers a discount of up to 25%, based on the time of day they drove, the amount of driving they did and hard braking/hard acceleration. The program was very successful, with an average premium discounts of about 12%. Not only did the program help Desjardins attract safer drivers, it also encouraged other customers to drive more safely.

In March 2015, DGIG again led the development of UBI in Canada by launching a sophisticated Ajusto smartphone app for android phones and iPhones – the first such app in North America and one of the first in the world. The Ajusto app was developed in conjunction with Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), a cutting edge technology company founded by two professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), using innovative mobile sensing technology and sophisticated data analytics.

The technical challenges were immense, but with the close collaboration between DGIG’s Ajusto Innovation Department and CMT, the Ajusto app was developed, tested and launched in 10 months (from idea generation to large scale launch). It provides a more sophisticated and complete evaluation of driving behavior to determine a customer’s discount based on:

  • Driving smoothness based on occurrences of fast acceleration, hard braking and hard cornering.
  • Speed measured by comparing actual driving speed with legal speed limits.
  • Time of day and distance travelled.

In addition, the app records instances of potential distracted driving (picking up to check or use the phone while driving). This information is not used in determining the customer’s discount score, but is highlighted to encourage safer behavior behind the wheel.

One of the most notable aspects of the app is its ability to accurately determine whether the phone’s owner is driving or is a passenger in a vehicle or on public transit. In addition, the app was designed to minimize mobile phone battery use and will automatically shut off if the battery reaches a certain depletion level.

The Customer Benefits

The Ajusto app provides a number of significant customer benefits compared to the previous plug-in technology:

  • More complete and balanced evaluation of driver behavior as more factors, including speed and cornering, are included in determining the customer’s “score” and resulting insurance discount.
  • More customized information as the app measures only the individual customer’s driving behavior, instead of the driving habits of all users of the car, as with the plug-in device.
  • Real-time feedback as drivers receive a summary of their driving behaviors directly on their smartphones, just minutes after a trip ends.
  • Easy-to-use technology as there’s no need to wait to be sent a device to plug into the car. The app is easily downloaded and can be used right away. Moreover, the app senses when the owner is behind the wheel and automatically turns on. In addition, there is no need to log into a special website for diving results, as with the previous plug-in version.
  • Wider availability as the app can be used by any customer owning a relatively recent android phone or iPhone (up to 3 years old) whereas for various reasons the plug-in telematics device did not work with certain vehicles.
  • Customers, and even drivers not insured with DGIG, can test drive the program for up to 90 days. Only when a customer officially enrolls with the Ajusto program will DGIG begin using the driver’s cumulative driving score to determine and apply the discount (when the policy renews).
  • The fun factor – the app also includes new features like the ability to compare results with friends.

The DGIG Benefits

For DGIG, the Ajusto app provides an engaging customer experience, strengthening customer attraction and loyalty. It has also positioned DGIG as an innovative and progressive insurer. Not only was it the first UBI app in North America, it was also one the first apps available for the Apple Watch. The app has also eliminated the need to purchase and send the plug-in devices to customers, along with the associated telecom costs. In addition, it is providing valuable overall driving data to enhance DGIG’s segmentation and other actuarial data.

Most important, however, is the well documented contribution that UBI makes to road and public safety by encouraging drivers to pay attention to their driving behaviours. Given the increase in factors monitored and the instant feedback with the Ajusto app, it is undoubtedly having an even bigger impact in encouraging safe driving habits, and consequently reducing accidents.

Finally, the app also lays the groundwork for the introduction of a variety of additional value-added telematics services in the future, which will benefit customers and further strengthen their relationships with DGIG.

Business Impact

The Ajusto program has had a significant and growing business impact:

  • Just 48 hours after the launch, the Ajusto mobile app was in the Top 100 most downloaded apps in the Canadian App store!
  • We also have seen a positive impact on the Net Promoter Scores for Ajusto users and the number of fans of the Ajusto Facebook page more than doubled (from 10,000 to over 22,500) following the launch.

In addition, a survey of Ajusto customers indicated a significant impact on driver attitudes and behaviors, undoubtedly contributing to road safety, the safety of our customers and a reduction in accident rates and claims losses. The survey found:

  • 2/3 of users say they now pay more attention when accelerating and braking;
  • 50% admit that they are now more careful and make a habit of monitoring their driving;
  • 30% mentioned that they have become more aware of how often they use their vehicles and avoid driving if they don’t need to.

The Ajusto program and app represent a new, modern approach to insurance. Through user-friendly technology, Ajusto more closely ties premiums to actual driving behavior, rather than relying just on traditional proxy factors such as age and location.

About Desjardins Group

Desjardins General Insurance Group (DGIG) is one of the largest and most successful insurance companies in Canada, with one of the highest customer service ratings in the industry.

We’ve been meeting the home and auto insurance needs of Canadians for over 60 years. When you call, you’ll speak directly to a licensed, salaried insurance professional each and every time. And, you will never feel rushed, because we will take the time to explain your coverage and answer any questions that you may have.

Today, with over 4,000 employees serving 1.6 million customers in Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta, Desjardins Insurance is proud to focus on its customers.

Source: Desjardins General Insurance Group (DGIG)

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