A method and system for communicating insurance related services
between an insured and an insurer through an Internet communication
scheme includes a processing system for processing acquired event
and sensored data to compute the cost of insurance for the same
period as the data is acquired. An enhanced Internet communication
scheme provides an insured access to the acquired data and its processing
through enhanced presentation systems (e.g., maps with usage, service
or special event processing or even automobile service diagnostics.)
In addition, communication packages can provide estimates based
upon user-supplied information identifying projected usages.
Having thus described the invention, we now claim:
1. A method of communicating a cost of insuring a unit of risk
and corresponding operating characteristics for the unit monitored
for a selected period, comprising steps of: providing a Web site
system for communicating data between an insurer and an insured
relative to the unit of risk; monitoring the operating characteristics
during the selected period; deciding the cost of insuring for the
period based upon the operating characteristics monitored in that
period; and selectively communicating the monitored operating characteristics
and decided cost to the insured through the Web site system.
2. The method as defined in claim 1 wherein the selected period
comprises a real time period for operating the unit of risk.
3. The method as defined in claim 1 wherein the selected period
comprises a prospective period for operating the unit of risk, the
operating characteristics comprise estimated operating characteristics
suggested by the insured, and the decided cost of insuring comprises
an estimated cost for the estimated operating characteristics.
4. The method as defined in claim 3 wherein the estimated operating
characteristics selectively comprise a destination, a travel route,
a time of travel or an operator identity for the unit of risk.
5. The method as defined in claim 1 further including generating
an operating profile for the unit of risk from the monitored operating
6. The method as defined in claim 5 further including identifying
an operator as the unit of risk.
7. The method as defined in claim 5 further including identifying
an equipment item as the unit of risk.
8. The method as defined in claim 1 further including providing
selectively available value added services including telephone services,
positioning services and diagnostic services to the unit of risk
9. The method as defined in claim 8 further including considering
the value added services for the deciding of the cost of insurance.
10. A system for Internet on-line communicating between an insurer
and insured, of detected operating characteristics of a unit of
risk for a selected period, and a cost of insuring the unit for
the selected period, as decided by the insurer in consideration
of the detected operating characteristics, the system comprising:
a Web site system for selectively communicating the operating characteristics
and the cost from the insurer to the insured; a monitoring system
for monitoring the operating characteristics; a storage system for
storing the operating characteristics, the storage system being
accessible to the Web site system; and, a processing system for
deciding the cost of insuring the unit for the period based upon
the monitored operating characteristics, the processing system being
accessible to the Web site system.
11. The system as defined in claim 10 wherein the selected period
comprises a real time period for operating the unit of risk.
12. The system as defined in claim 10 wherein the selected period
comprises a prospective period for operating the unit of risk, the
operating characteristics comprise estimated operating characteristics
suggested by the insured, and the decided cost of insuring comprises
an estimated cost for the estimated operating characteristics.
13. The system as defined in claim 10 wherein the unit of risk
comprises an operator.
14. The system as defined in claim 10 wherein the unit of risk
comprises an equipment item.
15. The system as defined in claim 10 including an on-line service
interface providing an item from a group comprising usage projection
estimates, maps, geofencing and automobile service diagnostics.
16. The system as defined in claim 10 including an on-line account
statement interface providing cost information for the unit of risk
and further selectively providing maps indicating unit usage, and
service usage detail of the unit of risk.
17. The system as defined in claim 10 including a user identification
system for authenticating an operator of the unit of risk and wherein
the identification of the user corresponds to an associated insurance
rating for the user.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to data acquisition, processing and
communicating systems, and particularly to a system for acquiring
and handling relevant data for an insured unit of risk for purposes
of providing a more accurate determination of cost of insurance
for the unit of risk and for communicating or quoting the so determined
cost to an owner of the unit of risk. Although the invention has
its principal applicability to motor vehicles such as automobiles,
the invention is equally applicable to other units of risk such
as, without limitation, motorcycles, motor homes, trucks, tractors,
vans, buses, boats and other water craft and aircraft. The invention
especially relates to a system for monitoring and communicating
units of risk operational characteristics and operator actions for
implementing the operational characteristics, to obtain increased
amounts of data relating to the safety or risk of use for a subject
unit, for purposes of providing a more accurate determination of
the cost of insurance corresponding to a real time usage of the
risk unit, and for making such data and computed costs accessible
to a customer or insured or others on hardcopy, over the Internet
or by other electronic means for convenient communication. The invention
relates to electronic commerce, particularly where insurance and
related information is marketed, sold or communicated via the Internet
or other interactive network.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Conventional methods for determining costs of motor vehicle insurance
involve gathering relevant historical data from a personal interview
with the applicant for the insurance and by referencing the applicant's
public motor vehicle driving record that is maintained by a governmental
agency, such as a Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Such data results in
a classification of the applicant to a broad actuarial class for
which insurance rates are assigned based upon the empirical experience
of the insurer. Many factors are relevant to such classification
in a particular actuarial class, such as age, sex, marital status,
location of residence and driving record.
The current system of insurance creates groupings of vehicles and
drivers (actuarial classes) based on the following types of classifications.
Vehicle: Age; manufacturer, model; and value. Driver: Age; sex;
marital status; driving record (based on government reports), violations
(citations); at fault accidents; and place of residence. Coverage:
Types of losses covered, liability, uninsured motorist, comprehensive,
and collision; liability limits; and deductibles.
The classifications, such as age, are further broken into actuarial
classes, such as 21 to 24, to develop a unique vehicle insurance
cost based on the specific combination of actuarial classes for
a particular risk. For example, the following information would
produce a unique vehicle insurance cost.
Vehicle: Age 1997 (three years old) manufacturer, model Ford, Explorer
XLT value $18,000. Driver: Age 38 years old sex male marital status
single driving record (based on government reports) violations 1
point (speeding) at fault accidents 3 points (one at fault accident)
place of residence 33619 (zip code) Coverage: Types of losses covered
liability yes uninsured motorist no comprehensive yes collision
yes liability limits $100,000./$300,000./$50,000. deductibles $500./$500.
A change to any of this information would result in a different
premium being charged, if the change resulted in a different actuarial
class for that variable. For instance, a change in the drivers'
age from 38 to 39 may not result in a different actuarial class,
because 38 and 39 year old people may be in the same actuarial class.
However, a change in driver age from 38 to 45 may result in a different
premium because of the change in actuarial class.
Current insurance rating systems also provide discounts and surcharges
for some types of use of the vehicle, equipment on the vehicle and
type of driver. Common surcharges and discounts include:
Surcharges: Business use. Discounts: Safety equipment on the vehicle
airbags, and antilock brakes; theft control devices passive systems
(e.g. "The Club"), and alarm system; and driver type good
student, and safe driver (accident free). group senior drivers fleet
A principal problem with such conventional insurance determination
systems is that much of the data gathered from the applicant in
the interview is not verifiable, and even existing public records
contain only minimal information, much of which has little relevance
towards an assessment of the likelihood of a claim subsequently
occurring. In other words, current rating systems are primarily
based on past realized losses. None of the data obtained through
conventional systems necessarily reliably predicts the manner or
safety of future operation of the vehicle. Accordingly, the limited
amount of accumulated relevant data and its minimal evidential value
towards computation of a fair cost of insurance has generated a
long-felt need for an improved system for more reliably and accurately
accumulating data having a highly relevant evidential value towards
predicting the actual manner of a vehicle's future operation.
Many types of vehicle operating data recording systems have heretofore
been suggested for purposes of maintaining an accurate record of
certain elements of vehicle operation. Some are suggested for identifying
the cause for an accident, others are for more accurately assessing
the efficiency of operation. Such systems disclose a variety of
conventional techniques for recording vehicle operation data elements
in a variety of data recording systems. In addition, it has also
been suggested to provide a radio communication link for such information
via systems such as a cellular telephone to provide immediate communication
of certain types of data elements or to allow a more immediate response
in cases such as theft, accident, break-down or emergency. It has
even been suggested to detect and record seatbelt usage to assist
in determination of the vehicle insurance costs (U.S. Pat. No. 4,667,336).
The various forms and types of vehicle operating data acquisition
and recordal systems that have heretofore been suggested and employed
have met with varying degrees of success for their express limited
purposes. All possess substantial defects such that they have only
limited economical and practical value for a system intended to
provide an enhanced acquisition, recordal and communication system
of data which would be both comprehensive and reliable in predicting
an accurate and adequate cost of insurance for the vehicle. Since
the type of operating information acquired and recorded in prior
art systems was generally never intended to be used for determining
the cost of vehicle insurance, the data elements that were monitored
and recorded therein were not directly related to predetermined
safety standards or the determining of an actuarial class for the
vehicle operator. For example, recording data characteristics relevant
to the vehicle's operating efficiency may be completely unrelated
to the safety of operation of the vehicle. Further, there is the
problem of recording and subsequently compiling the relevant data
for an accurate determination of an actuarial profile and an appropriate
insurance cost therefor.
Current motor vehicle control and operating systems comprise electronic
systems readily adaptable for modification to obtain the desired
types of information relevant to determination of the cost of insurance.
Vehicle tracking systems have been suggested which use communication
links with satellite navigation systems for providing information
describing a vehicle's location based upon navigation signals. When
such positioning information is combined with roadmaps in an expert
system, vehicle location is ascertainable. Mere vehicle location,
though, will not provide data particularly relevant to safety of
operation unless the data is combined with other relevant data in
an expert system which is capable of assessing whether the roads
being driven are high-risk or low-risk with regard to vehicle safety.
On-line Web sites for marketing and selling goods have become common
place. Many insurers offer communication services to customers via
Web sites relevant to an insured profile and account status. Commonly
assigned application U.S. Ser. No. 09/135,034, filed Aug. 17, 1998,
now U.S. Pat. No. 6,064,970 discloses one such system. Customer
comfort with such Web site communication has generated the need
for systems which can provide even more useful information to customers
relative to a customer's contract with the insurer. Such enhanced
communications can be particularly useful to an insured when the
subject of the communications relates to real time cost determination,
or when the subject relates to prospective reoccurring insurable
events wherein the system can relate in the existing insured's profile
with some insurer provided estimates of a future event for deciding
an estimated cost of insuring the event.
The present invention contemplates a new and improved monitoring,
recording and communicating system for an insured unit of risk,
which primarily overcomes the problem of determining cost of vehicle
insurance based upon data which does not take into consideration
how a specific unit of risk is operated. The subject invention will
base insurance charges with regard to current material data representative
of actual operating characteristics to provide a classification
rating of an operator or the unit in an actuarial class which has
a vastly reduced rating error over conventional insurance cost systems.
Additionally, the present invention allows for frequent (monthly)
adjustment to the cost of coverage because of the changes in operating
behavior patterns. This can result in insurance charges that are
readily controllable by individual operators. The system is adaptable
to current electronic operating systems, tracking systems and communicating
systems for the improved extraction of selected insurance related
data. In addition, the system provides for enhanced and improved
communication of the relevant acquired data, cost estimates of insuring
events and customer insured profiles through an Internet/Web site.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In accordance with the present invention, there is disclosed a
method of determining a cost of automobile insurance based upon
monitoring, recording and communicating data representative of operator
and vehicle driving characteristics, whereby the cost is adjustable
by relating the driving characteristics to predetermined safety
standards. The method is comprised of steps of monitoring a plurality
of raw data elements representative of an operating state of a vehicle
or an action of the operator. Selected ones of the plurality of
raw data elements are recorded when they are determined to have
an identified relationship to the safety standards. The recorded
elements are consolidated for processing against an insured profile
and for identifying a surcharge or discount to be applied to a base
cost of automobile insurance. The total cost of insurance obtained
from combining the base cost and surcharges or discounts is produced
as a final cost to the operator.
In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the
recording comprises identifying a trigger event associated with
the raw data elements which has an identified relationship to the
safety standards so that trigger information representative of the
event is recorded.
In accordance with a more limited aspect of the present invention,
the method comprises a step of immediately communicating to a central
control station via an uplink, information representative of the
trigger event and recording response information generated by the
In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention,
the method comprises steps of generating calculated data elements
and derived data elements from the raw data elements, and accumulating
the calculated and derived data elements in a recording device.
In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a method
and system for Internet on-line communicating, between an insurer
and an insured, of detected operating characteristics of a unit
of risk, (e.g., a vehicle) for a selected period, and the cost of
insuring the unit for the selected period, as decided by the insurer
in consideration of the detected operating characteristics. A Web
site system is provided for selectively communicating the operating
characteristics and the cost between the insurer and the insured.
A monitoring system monitors the operating characteristics. A storage
system stores the operating characteristics and is accessible to
the Web site system. A processing system decides the cost of insuring
the unit for a period based upon the operating characteristics monitored
during that period. The processing system is also accessible to
the Web site system.
One benefit obtained by use of the present invention is a system
that will provide precise and timely information about the current
operation of an insured motor vehicle that will enable an accurate
determination of operating characteristics, including such features
as miles driven, time of use and speed of the vehicle. This information
can be used to establish actual usage based insurance charges, eliminating
rating errors that are prevalent in traditional systems and will
result in vehicle insurance charges that can be directly controlled
by individual operators.
It is another benefit of the subject invention that conventional
motor vehicle electronics are easily supplemented by system components
comprising a data recording process, a navigation system and a communications
device to extract selected insurance relevant data from the motor
It is another object of the present invention to generate actuarial
classes and operator profiles relative thereto based upon actual
driving characteristics of the vehicle and driver, as represented
by the monitored and recorded data elements for providing a more
knowledgeable, enhanced insurance rating precision.
It is another aspect of the present invention that an on-line Web
site is provided for communicating data, services, and estimates
to customers via an Internet Web Site, including estimated costs
for expected operating usage for a particular unit of risk. Accordingly,
the real time cost determination and communication through the Web
site provides the type of enhanced communications between a customer
and an insurer that can be particularly useful in limiting costs,
and enhancing safety.
It is another benefit of the invention that a user of a unit of
risk may be authenticated as a proper user of the unit, and a more
accurate rating for the authenticated user may be implemented for
the computation of insurance costs.
The subject new insurance rating system retrospectively adjusts
and prospectively sets premiums based on data derived from motor
vehicle operational characteristics and driver behavior through
the generation of new actuarial classes determined from such characteristics
and behavior, which classes heretofore have been unknown in the
insurance industry. The invention comprises an integrated system
to extract via multiple sensors, screen, aggregate and apply for
insurance rating purposes, data generated by the actual operation
of the specific vehicle and the insured user/driver.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention may take physical form in certain parts and steps
and arrangements of parts and steps, the preferred embodiments of
which will be described in detail in this specification and illustrated
in the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof and wherein:
FIG. 1 is a block diagram/flowchart generally describing data capture
methods within a unit of risk for insurance in claims processing;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram generally illustrated in the communication
network design the unit of risk including a response center of the
insurer and a data handling center;
FIG. 3 is a suggestive perspective drawing of a vehicle including
certain data elements monitoring, recording and communication devices;
FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a vehicle onboard computer and recording
system implementing the subject invention for selective communication
with a central operations control center and a global positioning
FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating use of acquired data including
communication through Internet access; and,
FIG. 6 is a block diagram/flowchart illustrating an underwriting
and rating method for determining a cost of insurance in conjunction
with the system of FIG. 4.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
The following terms and acronyms are used throughout the detailed
Internet. A collection of interconnected (public and/or private)
networks that are linked together by a set of standard protocols
(such as TCP/IP and HTTP) to form a global, distributed network.
While this term is intended to refer to what is now commonly known
as the Internet, it is also intended to encompass variations which
may be made in the future, including changes and additions to existing
World Wide Web ("Web"). Used herein to refer generally
to both (i) a distributed collection of interlined, user-viewable
hypertext documents (commonly referred to as Web documents or Web
pages) that are accessible via the Internet, and (ii) the client
and server software components which provide user access to such
documents using standardized Internet protocols. Currently, the
primary standard protocol for allowing applications to locate and
acquire Web documents is HTTP, and the Web pages are encoded using
HTML. However, the terms "Web" and "World Wide Web"
are intended to encompass future markup languages and transport
protocols which may be used in place of (or in addition to) HTML
Web Site. A computer system that serves informational content over
a network using the standard protocols of the World Wide Web. Typically,
a Web site corresponds to a particular Internet domain name, such
as "progressive.com," and includes the content associated
with a particular organization. As used herein, the term is generally
intended to encompass both (i) the hardware/software server components
that serve the informational content over the network, and (ii)
the "back end" hardware/software components including
any non-standard or specialized components, that interact with the
server components to perform services for Web site users.
Referring now to the drawings, wherein the showings are for purposes
of illustrating the preferred embodiments of the invention only
and not for purposes of limiting same, the FIGURES show an apparatus
and method for monitoring, recording and communicating insurance
related data for determination of an accurate cost of insurance
based upon evidence relevant to the actual operation and in particular
the relative safety of that operation. Generally, a unit of risk,
e.g., vehicle, user is charged for insurance based upon statistical
averages related to the safety of operation based upon the insurer's
experience with other users who drive similar vehicles in a similar
geographic area. The invention allows for the measure of the actual
data while the motor vehicle is being driven. Such data measurement
will allow the vehicle user to directly control his/her insurance
costs by operating the vehicle in a manner which he/she will know
will evidence superior safety of operation and a minimal risk of
generation of an insurance claim. Examples of data which can be
monitored and recorded include:
1. Actual miles driven;
2. Types of roads driven on (high risk vs. low risk); and,
3. Safe operation of the vehicle by the vehicle user through: A.
speeds driven, B. safety equipment used, such as seat belt and turn
signals, C. time of day driven (high congestion vs. low congestion),
D. rate of acceleration, E. rate of braking, F. observation of traffic
4. Driver identification
With reference to FIG. 3, an exemplary motor vehicle is shown in
which the necessary apparatus for implementing the subject invention
is included. An on-board computer 300 monitors and records various
sensors and operator actions to acquire the desired data for determining
a fair cost of insurance. Although not shown therein, a plurality
of operating sensors are associated with the motor vehicle to monitor
a wide variety of raw data elements. Such data elements are communicated
to the computer through a connections cable which is operatively
connected to the vehicle data bus 304 through an SAE-J1978 connector,
or OBD-II connector or other vehicle sensors 306. A driver input
device 308 is also operatively connected to the computer 300 through
connector 307 and cable 302. The computer is powered through the
car battery 310, a conventional generator system, a battery or a
solar based system (not shown). Tracking of the vehicle for location
identification can be implemented by the computer 300 through navigation
signals obtained from a GPS (global positioning system) antenna,
a differential GPS or other locating system 312. The communications
link to a central control station is accomplished through the cellular
telephone, radio, satellite or other wireless communication system
FIG. 4 provides the block diagram of the in-vehicle computer system.
The computer 300 is comprised of several principal components, an
on-board data storage device, an input/output subsystem for communicating
to a variety of external devices, a central processing unit and
memory device and a real time operating kernel for controlling the
various processing steps of the computer 300. It is known that all
of these functions can be included in a single dedicated microprocessor
circuit 300. The computer 300 essentially communicates with a number
of on-board vehicle devices for acquisition of information representative
of various actual vehicle operating characteristics. A driver input
console 410 allows the driver to input data representative of a
need for assistance or for satisfaction of various threshold factors
which need to be satisfied before the vehicle can be operated.
For example, a driver authentication system is intended, such as
where several individual drivers (same family, etc.) may properly
use the vehicle but each may have different ratings for insurance
The physical operation of the vehicle is monitored through various
sensors 412 in operative connection with the vehicle data bus, while
additional sensors 414 not normally connected to the data bus can
be in direct communication with the computer 300 as will hereinafter
be more fully explained.
The vehicle is linked to an operation control center 416 by a communications
link 418, preferably comprising a conventional cellular telephone
interconnection, but also comprising satellite transmission, magnetic
or optical media, radio frequency or other known communication technology.
A navigation sub-system 420 receives radio navigation signals from
a positioning device 422 which may include, but is not limited to
GPS, radio frequency tags, or other known locating technology.
The type of elements monitored and recorded by the subject invention
comprise raw data elements, calculated data elements and derived
data elements. These can be broken down as follows:
Raw Data Elements:
Power train sensors RPM, transmission setting (Park, Drive, Gear,
Neutral), throttle position, engine coolant temperature, intake
air temperature, barometric pressure,
Electrical sensors brake light on, turn signal indicator, headlamps
on, hazard lights on, back-up lights on, parking lights on, wipers
on, doors locked, key in ignition, key in door lock, horn applied;
Body sensors airbag deployment, ABS application, level of fuel
in tank, brakes applied, radio station tuned in, seat belt on, door
open, tail gate open, odometer reading, cruise control engaged,
anti-theft disable, occupant in seat, occupant weight;
Other sensors vehicle speed, vehicle location, date, time, vehicle
direction, IVHS data sources pitch and roll, relative distance to
Calculated Data Elements:
vehicle in skid;
wheels in spin;
closing speed on vehicle in front;
closing speed of vehicle in rear;
closing speed of vehicle to side (right or left);
space to side of vehicle occupied;
space to rear of vehicle occupied;
space to front of vehicle occupied;
sudden rotation of vehicle;
sudden loss of tire pressure;
driver identification (through voice recognition or code or fingerprint
distance traveled; and
environmental hazard conditions (e.g. icing, etc.).
Derived Data Elements:
vehicle speed in excess of speed limit;
observation of traffic signals and signs;
traffic conditions; and
This list includes many, but not all, potential data elements.
With particular reference to FIG. 1, a flowchart generally illustrating
the data capture process of the subject invention within the vehicle
for insurance and claims processing, is illustrated. Such a process
can be implemented with conventional computer programming in the
real time operating kernel of the computer 300. Although it is within
the scope of the invention that each consumer could employ a unique
logic associated with that consumer's unit of risk, based on the
underwriting and rating determination (FIG. 6), as will be more
fully explained later, FIG. 1 illustrates how the data capture within
a particular consumer logic is accomplished. After the system is
started 100, data capture is initiated by a trigger event 102 which
can include, but is not limited to:
Battery Voltage Level
User Activation/Panic Button
Trigger event processing 104 essentially comprises three elements,
a flow process for contacting a central control 106, contacting
a claims dispatch, and/or recording trigger event data 110. If the
trigger event is one that does not require contacting central control
or contacting a claims dispatch, then processing proceeds to merely
record the event as trigger event data 110. Trigger event processing
can include, but is not limited to:
Contact External Entities
EMT (Emergency Medical Transport), claims Dispatch, Other External
Entity Takes Appropriate Action
Record Sensor Information
Transmission of Data
If trigger event processing comprises contact central control,
the inquiry is made, and if affirmative, the central control is
contacted 112, the central control can take appropriate action 114,
and a record is made of the action taken by the central control
116. For the process of claims dispatch 108, the system first contacts
120 the claims dispatch service department of the insurer, the claims
dispatch takes appropriate action 122 and a recording 124 of the
claims dispatch action information is made.
The recording of trigger event data can include, but is not limited
Greenwich Mean Time
Data capture processing concludes with end step 130.
The recording thus comprises monitoring a plurality of raw data
elements, calculated data elements and derived data elements as
identified above. Each of these is representative of an operating
state of the vehicle or an action of the operator. Select ones of
the plurality of data elements are recorded when the ones are determined
to have an identified relationship to the safety standards. For
example, vehicle speed in excess of a predetermined speed limit
will need to be recorded but speeds below the limit need only be
monitored and stored on a periodic basis. The recording may be made
in combination with date, time and location. Other examples of data
needed to be recorded are excessive rates of acceleration or frequent
The recording process would be practically implemented by monitoring
and storing the data in a buffer for a selected period of time,
e.g., thirty seconds. Periodically, such as every two minutes, the
status of all monitored sensors for the data elements is written
to a file which is stored in the vehicle data storage within the
computer 300. The raw, calculated and derived data elements listed
above comprise some of the data elements to be so stored.
"Trigger events" should be appreciated as a combination
of sensor data possibly requiring additional action or which may
result in a surcharge or discount during the insurance billing process.
Certain trigger events may require immediate upload 106 to a central
control which will then be required to take appropriate action 114.
For example, a trigger event would be rapid deceleration in combination
with airbag deployment indicating a collision, in which case the
system could notify the central control of the vehicle location.
Alternatively, if the operator were to trigger on an emergency light,
similarly the system could notify the central control of the vehicle
location indicating that an emergency is occurring.
Trigger events are divided into two groups: those requiring immediate
action and those not requiring immediate action, but necessary for
proper billing of insurance. Those required for proper billing of
insurance will be recorded in the same file with all the other recorded
vehicle sensor information. Those trigger events requiring action
will be uploaded to a central control center which can take action
depending on the trigger event. Some trigger events will require
dispatch of emergency services, such as police or EMS, and others
will require the dispatch of claims representatives from the insurance
The following comprises an exemplary of some, but not all, trigger
Need for Assistance:
These events would require immediate notification of the central
1. Accident Occurrence. An accident could be determined through
the use of a single sensor, such as the deployment of an airbag.
It could also be determined through the combination of sensors,
such as a sudden deceleration of the vehicle without the application
of the brakes.
2. Roadside assistance needed. This could be through the pressing
of a "panic button" in the vehicle or through the reading
of a sensor, such as the level of fuel in the tank. Another example
would be loss of tire pressure, signifying a flat tire.
3. Lock-out assistance needed. The reading of a combination of
sensors would indicate that the doors are locked but the keys are
in the ignition and the driver has exited the vehicle.
4. Driving restrictions. The insured can identify circumstances
in which he/she wants to be notified of driving within restricted
areas, and warned when he/she is entering a dangerous area. This
could be applied to youthful drivers where the parent wants to restrict
time or place of driving, and have a record thereof.
Unsafe Operation of the Vehicle
These events would be recorded in the in-vehicle recording device
for future upload. Constant trigger events would result in notification
of the driver of the exceptions.
1. Excessive speed. The reading of the vehicle speed sensors would
indicate the vehicle is exceeding the speed limit. Time would also
be measured to determine if the behavior is prolonged.
2. Presence of alcohol. Using an air content analyzer or breath
analyzer, the level of alcohol and its use by the driver could be
3. Non-use of seatbelt. Percent of sample of this sensor could
result in additional discount for high use or surcharge for low
or no use.
4. Non-use of turn signals. Low use could result in surcharge.
5. ABS application without an accident. High use could indicate
unsafe driving and be subject to a surcharge.
With particular reference to FIG. 2, a general block diagram/flowchart
of the network design for gathering appropriate information for
insurance billing on a periodic basis is illustrated. Each unit
of risk 200, which as noted above, can just as easily be an airplane
or boat, as well as a automobile, includes the data storage 202
and data process logic 204 as described more in detail in FIG. 4.
The insured 206 responsible for each unit of risk communicates within
the insuring entity 208 or its designee (by "designee"
is meant someone acting for the insurer, such as a dedicated data
collection agent, data handler or equipment vendor 210 and/or a
value added service provider 212.) The data handler can be a third
party entity verifying that the operating equipment of the system
is in proper working order, and as such, will usually be a subcontractor
to the insurer. A value added service provider is another third
party entity, such as a directional assistance service, or telephone
service provider, also part from the insurer, whose communications
with the units of risk may be important or useable to the insurance
Another important feature of FIG. 2 is that the insured 206 may
not only communicate with the insurer 208 through the communications
link 418 (FIG. 4), but also through an Internet 218 communications
path. Such communication will occur through a Webserver 220 and
the insurer's Web site so that an insured 206 may get on-line with
the insurer 208 to observe and verify recorded data, claims processing,
rating and billing 222, as well as acquire improved insurance cost
estimations, as will hereinafter be more fully explained.
With particular reference to FIG. 5, a more detailed description
of system use of data acquired from the unit of risk is explained
with particular attention to advantageous Internet communications.
The unit of risk 200 is primarily concerned with transferring three
classes of data between it and the insurer. The event data 500 and
stored sensor data 502 have been discussed with reference to FIG.
1. Data process logic 504 is particular processing logic that can
be transferred from the insurer to the unit of risk that is adapted
for acquiring data especially important for assessing the particular
unit's insurance costs. For example, if a particular unit has a
special need for providing information about brake pedal application,
special data process logic will be provided to that unit to store
data related to this activity. On the other hand, for many other
units such data may not be necessary and so the unit may operate
with standard data process logic 204. The important feature of special
data process logic 504 is that the data process logic 204 for a
unit of risk can be regularly updated as either the insured, the
insurer or events warrant. One easily foreseeable special data process
logic would be related to breathalyser analysis.
The process flowchart starting at Begin 506 more generally describes
the communication activity between the insurer and the unit of risk.
The insurer will acquire event data 508, sensor data 510, may update
512 the data process logic and then process 514 the raw data elements
to generate either the calculated or derived data elements. All
relevant data is stored 516 in a conventional data storage device
518. If the stored item is an event 524, then the insurer needs
to cause some sort of response to the event. For example, if there
is an airbag deployment, the insurer may actually try to communicate
with the vehicle, and upon failure of communication, may initiate
deployment of emergency medical or police service. If this specific
event processing and/or alerts 526 occurs, the system may have to
initiate a charge per use event. For instance, charges can also
include immediate response claims, EMS contact charges or police
dispatch charges. The data or events which are stored in stored
device 518 are accessed by a billing algorithm 530 to generate a
cost for the unit of risk in consideration of all the relevant data
and events occurring in that period. It is a special feature of
the subject invention that the cost of insurance is based upon the
real time data occurring contemporaneously with the billing so that
the system provides an insurance use cost, as opposed to an estimation
based upon historical data. After a relevant cost is computed, periodic
bills are produced 532 and typically mailed to a customer as an
account statement 534.
Another important feature of the subject invention illustrated
in FIG. 5 is that the insurer provides a Webserver 220 to allow
a customer to access via Internet 218 communication, the relevant
sensor data and event data associated with the customer.
Two different types of on-line services interfaces are illustrated;
a prospective on-line services interface 550, or an interface 552
for reporting acquired data. The data reports through the acquired
service interface may comprise all of the stored event and sensor
data, along with enhanced processing maps showing travel routes
during the billing period, or even a map showing current location
of the unit of risk. By Geofencing is meant to identify when the
unit travels outside of a certain geographical area. It is even
possible to determine whether automobile maintenance service is
appropriate by diagnostic analysis of the sensor and event data.
The prospective interface relates to "what if" gaming
where a customer can project certain usages of the unit of risk,
and the system can, in combination with similar occurring usage
in the past or, based upon the overall customer profile or matrix,
project a estimated cost for such usage. In effect, a user can determine
in advance what particular usage of the unit will incur as insurance
cost with a very reliable associated insurance estimate.
Lastly, enhanced on-line account statements 554 can also be communicated
on-line wherein maps with usage, or service usage details can be
provided as a more detailed explanation of the resulting costs of
an account statement.
With particular reference to FIG. 6, the subject invention is particularly
useful for generating improved rating algorithms due to the improved
acquisition and amount of relative data for assessing insurance
costs for a unit of risk. In the manner as discussed above, the
database 518 has the benefit of the data from a plurality of customers
206. An insurer can over time use the accumulated underwriting and
rating information from individual customers 520 to develop improved
rating algorithms 522. Such improved algorithms can be regularly
communicated to the units of risk 200 for improved insurance cost
computation accuracies. The improved rating algorithms can be communicated
524 to the units of risk on-board computer 300 (FIG. 4).
The subject invention is also applicable as a process for collecting
data to be used for the following non-insurance related purposes:
advertising and marketing, site selection, transportation services,
land use planning, determining road design, surface or composition,
traffic planning and design, and road conditions.
The invention has been described with reference to the preferred
embodiments. Obviously modifications and alterations will occur
to others upon a reading and understanding of this specification.
The present invention is intended to include all such modifications
and alterations in so far as they come within the scope of the appended
claims or equivalents thereof.