Top Criteria for Selecting a Mobile Telematics Vendor

Among the most promising technologies now transforming the auto-insurance marketplace, mobile telematics has earned kudos for benefitting drivers in numerous ways, as well as benefitting an insurer’s overall profitability. The range of available telematics data collection sources and use cases is substantial and to successfully launch a program, choosing an experienced vendor providing guidance and expertise is essential.

The heart of an effective mobile telematics program should always be built on the quality and scope of driving data captured and the methods used to extract the most useful insights and intelligence from the data. That data—how it is collected and how it is used in your insurance business—is a primary factor in minimizing risk, a perpetual guiding star in the insurance business.

Evaluating available programs and assessing the competitive arguments surrounding mobile telematics offerings can be quite complex. To avoid getting locked into a vendor agreement that doesn’t meet your expectations or tied to technologies or use cases that don’t meet your needs, consider the following criteria.


1. Industry Reputation Matters

Because mobile telematics entails integrating a rapidly evolving, diverse collection of technologies, you’ll want to choose a vendor that has demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the nature of the field across all the technology choices that are available. Investigate the history and background of any vendor you’re considering and see if they have earned a reputation deserving of respect in the industry. Check to see what kind of track record for successful deployments they have gained. Even if you have decided to start with a basic smartphone-based program, a vendor with experience supporting multiple data-capture options with flexible programs and a future roadmap to more sophisticated offerings will be your best bet.

A fair amount of designing, planning, deploying, and periodic maintenance will need to take place even in the simplest mobile telematics program. Along with the proven ability to provide additional value-added features and services for your existing programs, with the track record to also help you launch other technologies or programs to cover your book of business, an experienced vendor can steer you toward an efficient and profitable program that will please customers and deliver the anticipated business outcomes and financial returns.


2. Real-World Insurance Experience Leads to a Successful Program

Vendors that have acquired expertise and demonstrate real-world experience by having successfully launched their own B2C mobile telematics insurance programs provide additional assurance that they understand the dynamics of the game and can apply this practical knowledge to implement a program that works effectively for you. This level of understanding should be considered a core capability of any vendor competing in this space. Without it, a mobile telematics vendor may be using your company as a test bed for experimenting with telematics programs and conducting trials of different approaches to see what works. A vendor that can point to proven programs that have worked well for end users is a choice that can be backed more confidently.

The gold standard in this area is a vendor who has team members on the staff who have worked in the insurance industry and can merge that experience with an understanding of the additional capabilities of telematics, particularly as these capabilities relate to precision data as it affects risk factors and scoring. Ask a prospective mobile telematics vendor if they have active staff members with skills acquired in the insurance sector. If so, it’s a positive factor in their favor as they will speak your language, understand your challenges and required outcomes and understand the path to get you there.

In a recent report, Capgemini Research Institute noted that 35% of insurers have gained competitive advantages from their investments in data and analytics, such as growth in premiums written and improvement in loss ratios.¹ The synergistic value of savvy insurance companies partnering with mobile telematics providers well versed as insiders in the industry is considerable.


3. Flexible Technology Unlocks Opportunities

A one-dimensional telematics solution tied to a single technology might not suit your long-term plans or help you adapt quickly to changes in the industry. Favor those vendors who offer a range of unique propositions based on your needs giving you the agility to respond to changing market conditions and move fluidly in different directions as the industry matures. A one-size-fits-all approach rarely meets the needs of any single insurer.

Given the multiple options available for even a basic mobile telematics program, an experienced vendor should be able to provide flexible communication methods, customization options for accommodating specialized requirements and easy integration with other technologies, such as complimentary hardware and software. Being able to handle a diverse range of data sources—including aftermarket telematics devices and sources connected with OEM-embedded equipment—adds substantial future value to the partnership with a vendor.

A vendor with flexible technology and program options can free your company to explore and implement new programs as they are developed and introduced to the market. Having the agility to adjust your program features and modify capabilities as needed improves your chances to succeed, as well as attract and retain a greater share of customers. For example, being able to configure scoring values within the telematics program and adjust the data analytics in a way that reflects your business objectives is an important aspect of flexibility. Similarly, the configuration options available with the mobile telematics app itself should be expansive enough to meet your needs. Simply having access to a few toggle switches to turn features on and off is generally not considered an adequate measure of configurability or solution flexibility.

The processes and contractual obligations relating to telematics vendors and solutions can be complicated and unwieldy. Look for a vendor that offers sufficient flexibility to adjust terms and processes as required to fit the business operations within your region or territory, as well as integrating effectively with the business model for your insurance program.


4. Expert Partnership over the Full Program Lifecycle is Requisite

Effective telematics solutions require more than just integrating a smartphone app into a network and running a bunch of collected data through an application. Building a successful program requires collaboration and a cooperative spirit—straightforward consulting and open communication, all important ingredients in a partner-focused mobile telematics vendor. You are trusting your business to a service provider and you deserve more than a superficial transactional approach to business interactions.

The vendor should be prepared to offer a clear roadmap defining each stage of launching the telematics solution that demonstrates solid understanding of your business goals and objectives. Establishing metrics during the planning phase is important to ensuring that those objectives are met. Consulting with a vendor over the months that a program is active can help you fine tune your program proposition and assist with efforts around program optimization through ongoing testing with expert guidance along the way. A vendor should be ready to scale the telematics program as needed to meet your future business goals, leaving room to expand and gain the maximum long-term value from your telematics investment.


5. Consumer Data Protection is a Primary Responsibility

A responsible vendor provides solutions that protect customer data at every stage of its lifecycle—in use, in motion, and at rest. Collecting and handling data are subject to agreements that must be in place, both with individual customers for direct data collection and with OEMs whenever data partnerships are negotiated. The regulations and security issues surrounding data use and protection can be complex and varying according to the geo involved. Be sure that the vendor is well versed in local, regional, and international requirements for data use and handling and has policies and processes in effect that reflect this regulatory understanding. Going above and beyond for program and data security is evidence of a clear focus on data protection and a reassurance that you are working with a partner who will work in partnership to minimize risk for your program now and into the future.


6. Intellectual Property Protection Matters

Complete telematics solutions are built on a foundation of interlocking, interoperable technologies. A history of patents that have been filed by a vendor can demonstrate evidence of a level of technological expertise in the mobile telematics sector. Ask a prospective vendor what accomplishments they can point to that involve developing innovative telematics solutions, creating unique data analytics breakthroughs, and engineering noteworthy telematics offerings. Most importantly, what patents do they own that pertain to mobile telematics?

The core reason that patents are important is that they provide a mechanism to protect you – the insurer – and your program interests. The ownership of the intellectual property rights covering the components in a telematics solution can be a primary factor in legal disputes or litigation. Insurers can rest easier knowing that patents are in place to protect each level of their operations and, in turn, their overall program investments.


7. Piloting Multiple Technologies Has Big Advantages

Consider working with a vendor that can support running multiple pilot programs at once enabling you to evaluate different technologies and the resulting data insights. Take advantage of these pilots to assess these aspects of a telematics solution:

  • Data insights produced
  • Delivery to program objectives
  • Ease of use and customer experience
  • Vendor responsiveness

Some mobile telematics service providers offer free technology trials, letting you experience the usefulness and efficiency of their solutions before committing to a long-term agreement. Be cautious when entering into any agreement. Less reputable vendors sometimes push toward lock-in before you’ve had an opportunity to make an informed choice of solutions.


Final Thoughts

The mobile telematics market is crowded with companies that are intent on capitalizing on the benefits of the technology, sometimes without the background and experience to deliver on their promises. For a rewarding long-term partner relationship with a mobile telematics vendor, consider the criteria in this article, ask the right questions when you’re investigating prospects, and don’t overlook the track record and history of a vendor. To future-proof your telematics investments, turn to a company that fully understands the technology, creates many of the advances that are driving the industry, and can deliver honesty, transparency, and trust throughout your relationship with them.

Mobile telematics technology is a proven, effective means for collecting and analyzing driving data that can let insurers gain more precise actuarial analysis and develop programs that more fully meet driver expectations and lower risks. As digital transformation continues to change the landscape of the insurance sector, partnering with the right vendor, one that helps unlock the opportunities, is the first step on the path. Following the criteria in this article, ensure that the vendor you select has a firm grasp of the insurance industry and knows how to make the most out of telematics data and guides your business to success. Data rules.



Additional Resources

To learn more about mobile telematics, read more in the following blogs:

The Ultimate Introduction to Mobile Telematics
The Top 5 Best Practices for Mobile Telematics Success

About IMS

IMS (Insurance & Mobility Solutions) is a vehicle and driving data business, delivering enterprise solutions to global insurers, mobility operators and governments. The IMS DriveSync platform provides the capability for customers to improve their approach to pricing, customer engagement, risk management and claims handling by leveraging telematics data from any source – smartphone apps, aftermarket hardware and OEM embedded units. The company, with offices across the UK, Europe and North America, has analyzed over 15 billion driving miles and its algorithms are fed by trillions of data points each day.

IMS is the only technology partner with direct-to-consumer insurance expertise having run a successful insurance arm, Carrot Insurance, in the UK. This served as a testbed for refining technologies and products, optimizing the effectiveness of solutions before launching them in the marketplace.

About the IMS One App

The success of any mobile telematics program depends in large part on the customer experience, much of which is necessarily delivered via a smartphone app. With IMS One App, you can offer a personalized experience tailored to product usage and the customer journey – offering true engagement that is proven to modify driving behavior.

IMS One App is a development framework that makes it quick and easy to create a mobile telematics experience that is proven to work, leading to measurably higher levels of engagement than apps created via other means. One App can help you truly connect with your customers, changing their driving behavior and delivering better outcomes, both for your business and for them.

Learn more about the IMS One App at


¹ The Data-Powered Insurer: Unlocking the data premium at speed and scale. Capgemini Research Institute. February 2022.