Could wearable and portable smart technology help lower your insurance premiums?

There are so many advantages of smart technology these days: from helping you conserve energy in your home to ensuring your family's safety with motion detectors and smart locks. What's not to love? But have you ever thought about how smart technology could save you money on your insurance premiums? Until now, insurers have relied on a standard model to determine the risk factor of any motorcyclist or car driver, using data such as age, gender, previous claims history and vehicle horsepower. What you don't know is that this model could be changing with the development of smart technology, revolutionising how the insurance industry determines risk and calculates the cost of premiums. What's in it for you?

smart and wearable technology can lower insurance premiums

To help you figure out if you could benefit from these changes, we've gathered together a list of wearable and portable smart technology that could help you get better deals on your insurance premiums. There are a surprisingly high number of steps you can take to protect your cash when it comes to buying insurance. Alternatively, if you're simply a technology enthusiast keen to explore the developments in wearable and portable smart devices, this article is definitely up your street. 

In this article:

  • How can smart technology reduce your motorcycle insurance premiums?
  • How is smart wearable technology making an impact in the equestrian market?
  • What about cyclists?
  • The benefits of smart technology for football players
  • How can fitbits and smartwatches lower your health insurance premiums?

How can smart technology reduce your motorcycle insurance premiums?

1. The best smart helmets on the market

Let's take Asia for example, where over 400 million people use motorcycles as their primary mode of transport. This compares with 50 million motorcyclists in the rest of the world! Motorcycling is notoriously dangerous and to make matters worse, insurance is cost prohibitive in Asia. In response, Taiwan-based company Jarvish is manufacturing a smart helmet that they hope will make insurance premiums cheaper for these motorcyclists in the future.

DID YOU KNOW? The risk of death for motorcyclists is 20 times higher than for car occupants (Source: European Commission). 

Marketed as distraction-free technology, the helmet's software is similar to the software used in black boxes fitted to many cars in the UK. Built-in sensors monitor your speed and braking habits to score your driving quality. This data is sent to insurance companies who offer you discounts based on your safe driving. Unlike the black box however, the Jarvish helmet has GPS navigation: it informs you of upcoming bends in the roads and lets you know the weather and road conditions. With these added benefits you can drive smarter and you are even less of a risk for the insurance company. Unfortunately, the drawback is the high cost. Current estimations value the helmet at £500... so start saving now. That said, there are definitely more affordable smart helmets on the market, so make sure you do your research before making a decision.

And remember, whilst the black box and dash cams fitted to cars are not particularly wearable, they are still very useful to have in your car as evidence of your safe driving. They can also help lower your insurance premiums and are particularly helpful as evidence if you are involved in a car accident. Better to be safe than sorry...

2. Monimoto Smart Motorcycle Alarm System

This device could come in handy if you are a motorcyclist living in an area with a high crime rate. Simply place it somewhere on your motorbike, the more hidden the better, and it works as a GPS tracker alarm. It comes with a key fob which you should keep on you at all times (and separate from your motorcycle keys!). If the monimoto detects that the motorcycle is being moved when out of range of the key fob it sends a message to your smart phone. 

When we contacted the company they said that as a relatively new start-up they are yet to partner with any insurance companies but they are actively looking for ways to do so in the future. It retails at around £145, making it more accessible than the Jarvish helmet for the average wage earner. 

3. KNOX Handroid Gloves 

Claimed, albeit by the company, to be the best pair of motorcycle gloves in the world, this intelligent pair of gloves could quite literally save your skin in the event of a crash. Its unique exoskeleton will protect your hands from high speed impact with the ground. It is currently on the market at £199.

4. Wearable air bag technology: Helite air vests with integrated airbags

Helite are leading the air bag technology market with their innovative designs which can be found on their website. These specialised jackets provide airbag protection and inflate within milliseconds if you fall from your motorcycle. They claim to offer full protection to the back, spine, neck, chest and ribs and help prevent whiplash and hyper-extension. The prices varies depending of the type of jacket you chose, but it averages at a whopping £500. Helite also have a range of air vests for horse riders, bringing us nicely into the equestrian market...

How is smart wearable technology making an impact in the equestrian market?

1. Smart wearable health trackers for horses

A German start-up, HorseAnalytics, has devised an innovative product that tracks your horse's sleeping pattern, physical and mental state, training performance and general activity. A sensor is attached to the horse's bridle and monitors the horse's specific movements which are then transmitted to your mobile app for data analysis.

If this wasn't quite what you had in mind, you could opt for the Equisense Motion tracker which is placed on the girth and connected to your mobile app. With this piece of wearable tech you can moniter your horse's movements and evaluate its physical state after training, making sure you train effectively while ensuring the wellbeing of your horse. You can even share you training session with your coach through the app to keep them up to date with your progress. 

In fact, there are loads of smart horse tracking technologies to choose from, all helping to maintain horse and rider safety, health and general wellbeing. 

2. KEP Smart helmet

The equestrian industry is also benefiting from the development in smart helmets: the KEP helmet is equipped with a flexible visor, air circulation system, five connection point straps and inner removable and washable padding. What more could you need?

What about cyclists?

1. Garmin Edge 1030 GPS cycling computer

Garmin have created a portable bike computer with GPS - the Garmin Edge 1030 - which helps you plan your route, search for popular points of interest near to your location and monitor your fitness as you cycle. It uses data analytics to plan your route for you according to the most popular routes used by fellow cyclists. If connected to your smartphone it allows you to receive texts and calls and even alerts an emergency contact if you crash. It also has a special feature called Grouptrack which lets you see the location and travel speeds of your friends.

While this is not exactly cheap (700 US dollars!) and is perhaps not necessary if you are going on a quick ride around your local village, tech enthusiasts and data lovers will find it an irresistible bike accessory. 

2. Apple Lumos Bike Helmet

Apple have developed their own smart helmet which has integrated lights to keep you visible on the road, as well as turn signal lights which activate when motion sensors detect that you are making a hand signal. Not only this, you can connect it with your Apple smartwatch or health app to record your fitness levels and help lower your insurance premiums! It is currently for sale on Apple's website at £149.

The benefits of smart technology for football players

Football players will also benefit from smart wearable technology. The American Football company Riddell has created a smart helmet with a built-in impact monitoring system: a five-zone sensor pad system on the exterior of the helmet which monitors head impacts. If a footballer is subjected to a heavy collision, the staff are quickly alerted through a handheld alert monitor. This helmet not only protects its user from head injuries but allows trainers to manage training sessions more effectively and create individual player reports using head impact data. It is targeted at school and college football teams and is currently only available to purchase directly through Riddell. 

How can fitbits and smartwatches lower your insurance premiums?

Did you know that under a provision laid out by Obamacare, many national health insurers in the US started to offer incentives to customers who actively participated in physical activity. There are currently 25.4 million active fitbit users worldwide. Insurance companies use fitbits to monitor your fitness level, the amount of activity you do and offer you premium discounts and rewards. The aim is to reward those who go that extra mile to stay fit. There are now loads of smart devices designed to increase your activity and fitness levels, monitor your sleeping patterns, your body temperature and your heart rate.

fitbit health

On the flip side, could wearable smart technology actually increase your health insurance premium? According to an article in The Telegraph, fitbit and smartwatch users could actually be reducing their chances of securing the cheapest insurance premiums. The argument is that only the healthiest, fittest individuals would be able to access the lower premiums, while people who are less fit would see costs rise. In fact, the policy wording of insurance products will increasingly state that the insurers can access customer data to determine their premiums. Insurers would be able to access information about the customer that they otherwise would not have, and this could impact the customers eligibility for cheap premiums.

To add fuel to the fire, the Health & Fitness category for the Apple Watch is actually the least popular app category, with Utilities, Games, Productivity and Lifestyle apps more widely used (Source: Appannie).

Why do you think Health and Fitness is the least popular app category for the Apple Watch?

According to a survey carried out by PwC's Health Research Institute and Consumer Intelligence Series in 2014, most consumers do not want to pay a huge amount for their health wearables and are more interested in how this tech can be used to receive incentives from insurers. 

Yet what are the rules, regulations and limits on using your personal data to set insurance premiums? And what is the impact on your health insurance premiums by data sharing if your vital body statistics are accessible to insurance companies? When we asked Dominic Stannard from the Association of British Insurers, he said that 'with regards to data use, insurers will always act within data privacy laws and explicit consent must always be given'.

David Priestley, Chief Digital Officer at Vitality, commented: 'At Vitality, we see wearable technology as an essential component to our offering that helps our members monitor their activity, whilst encouraging and motivating them to fulfil their health goals. Vitality members can track activity from a range of market leading earn valued rewards such as free cinema tickets and lower premiums at renewal. We take data protection very seriously and ensure our members’ data is protected at all times. We work with a range of partners who are able to share activity data with us, however the member must have a direct relationship with the partner or app, and it is at the member’s own discretion whether they choose to share their data with us via the manufacturer.'

Don't forget, if you're taking your fitbits and smartwatches out and about with you all the time, think about how to keep them safe from getting lost, damaged, or stolen. 

FROM YOUR FITBIT TO YOUR PHONE: Just how safe are you personal possessions?

Can wearable tech keep your insurance lower


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