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Dashcams can change insurance

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Insurance providers in some countries incentivise motorists who drive vehicles fitted with a dash cam. LIZETTE ERASMUS, Insurance Expert at IntegriSure, debates whether dash cams can play a bigger role in the local short term insurance industry.

Road accidents, some of which are fatal, are a regular occurrence on South African roads. Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi released road death statistics showing a 51% increase in fatalities during the 2017 Easter period – raising concern for safe driving on the roads. The role of dash cams (or car dashboard cameras) in helping motorists with responsible driving has been much debated around the world.

Social media is littered with dash cam footage of road rage, irresponsible driving and bad accidents. With such availability of driver behaviour evidence, should dash cams play a bigger role in settling motor accident claims, determining premiums and be used as a tool to incentivise drivers in South Africa?

Unlike South Africa, insurance providers in some countries incentivise motorists who drive vehicles fitted with a dash cam. According to insurance companies in the UK, having a dash cam could reduce the premium by up to 15%.

Risk profiles depend on many factors

Being able to provide additional evidence that you were not at fault when a motor accident occurs can be beneficial during claim stage and even fast track the process. Many factors go into the process of determining a risk profile and therefore setting a premium. However, the willingness to install a dash cam for visual evidence in the event of a claim could indicate to insurance providers that one is a responsible person and consequently reflect in their premiums.

However, the bigger picture will always come into play. Your credit record, claims history, length of time you’ve had a driving license, as well as the security measurements taken, will influence the premium an insurance provider settles on for a specific client. Even if adopted, the installation of a dash cam will need to be evaluated in light of the other aspects of determining a risk profile.

Detecting fraudulent claims

Economic pressure unfortunately causes fraudulent behaviour and insurance providers have fallen prey to this type of behaviour.

Russia was one of the first countries to widely embrace the use of dash cams, mainly as a defence against police corruption, as well as insurance fraud such as ‘crash for cash’ scams. Crash for cash scams happen where fraudsters deliberately cause ‘accidents’ by running or driving into the road as soon as a car approaches, with the aim to claim for insurance.

To an extent, dash cams provide proof of foul play in the instance of this type of fraud. In addition, dash cams can help avoid the he-said she-said scenario at claim stage.

Dash cams assist with the collection of evidence, but do not eliminate the need for a thorough investigation into an incident. Dash cams see broadly into the road, therefore other detail on the road may be missed by the camera lens – which is where an eyewitness account is still vital.  Insurance providers still have to conduct thorough investigation to assess the incident and the resultant damage. Dash cams do, however, assist in speeding up the process and giving a greater scope of what happened.

The unintended consequences of dash cam adoption

As with anything, insurance providers will have to contend with other unintended consequences when assessing the viability of adopting dash cams – one of which is a legal risk. While recording via a dash cam is not illegal, sharing such footage may be an infringement of people’s right to privacy. Dash cam footage is commonly shared on social media, which can be seen as violation of privacy, resulting in litigation. Insurance providers must consider the risk of being party to these types of cases when encouraging the use of dash cams, and appropriately educate consumers.

Dash cameras benefit motorists and vehicle owners

Most dash cams are linked to the engine and are therefore programmed to start recording as soon as the ignition starts which is also beneficial in ensuring the dash cam is always recording. This could very well be a prerequisite should the technology be adopted by insurance providers. For fleet owners, dash cams can help them monitor whether their drivers are driving responsibly or not.

A vehicle owner who lends a friend their vehicle is also able to monitor their friend’s driving behaviour through the dash cam footage. Furthermore, viewing footage of your own driving can help improve one’s own driving, as you can watch and review where you need to correct your driving behaviour.

The use of technologies such as telematics and tracking devices has been adopted by the South African short-term insurance industry, and dash cams could be another device to investigate to add to that list. When all is said and done, dash cams do encourage responsible driving behaviour. Whether or not South Africa is ready for the wholesale adoption of dash cams in the short-term insurance industry remains to be seen.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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