​​​​​​​​​​Insurance telematics – also known as usage-based insurance (UBI) or pay-as-you-drive – represents a shift in how insurance is administered and how premiums are calculated. Telematics has the potential to reduce your premium costs and generate significant benefits to society.​

How to Drive Your Premiums Down with Telematics

Telematics technology customizes insurance to your pattern of driving. It works by monitoring your real-time driving behaviours to provide an objective picture of your driving habits.  

Some insurers use telematics to monitor the key risk factors associated with driving a car. The technology assesses your driving habits, including: 

  • ​The distance you drive
  • The time of day when you are on the road
  • When and how you accelerate and brake

If you exhibit better driving habits or improve your driving behaviour, you can potentially save on insurance premiums. A telematics device creates an objective, personalized profile based on specific criteria. 

How Telematics Technology Works

Telematics was first used for auto insurance in Canada by one insurer in 2013 and has since grown to be included in a number of insurers’ product offerings. The telematics program gives you a small wireless device that acts as information and communication technology that can be quickly and easily installed in your car’s diagnostic port (typically under the steering wheel). 

The data collected is subject to strict privacy policies and not used for any other commercial purposes without consent. The insurer analyzes your data solely to determine savings and assesses typically the three driving habits listed above. 

With some programs, you can then track your driving habits and savings online, have your online information dashboard updated daily, and have your telematics discount calculated monthly. 

​Telematics programs are voluntary and you are fully informed of the variables your insurer collects for use in the program. Before signing up, you provide your express, informed consent for the collection, use and disclosure of the information used by the insurer.

Other Benefits of Telematics

According to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute​ in British Columbia, widespread adoption of telematics has other potential benefits as a result of people driving less. They include: ​​

  • Reductions in congestion, traffic accidents, pollution, energy use, road and parking costs as well as more people walking instead of driving, which promotes health and fitness 
  • Opportunities for urban planners to explore other land-use objectives  

The Telematics Forecast

The number of insurers offering telematics is expected to increase. Canadian insurance companies are learning from the experiences of their counterparts in the U.S. and Europe.

In 2012, IBC conducted a survey in Ontario that found that the majority of those polled would be in favour of telematics. The option to choose telematics was most popular among people who drive less than 10,000 kilometres a year.


Where Liability Insurance Fits into Bicycle Accidents

If you have clients who are riding their bikes this summer, how does liability insurance work if they get into an accident?

“Specialty cyclist insurance policies do exist, but my understanding is they are not very common,” said Ari Krajden, a partner with Toronto law firm Kawaguchi Krajden LLP.

Liability for bicycle accidents is “typically” covered under a home insurance policy but motorized scooters and other types of vehicles may not be, Krajden said Tuesday in an interview.

Cyclists who are unsure of their coverage should be asking their insurance broker or agent, said Krajden, whose areas of practice include personal injury and insurance coverage.

Unlike auto insurance, the wording of home insurance policies are not stipulated in provincial regulations.

“They can differ from insurer to insurer. It’s important to read your policy,” said Krajden.

Suppose a cyclist collides with a pedestrian, no motor vehicle is involved, and the pedestrian decides to launch a personal injury lawsuit.

“If a cyclist is sued, and the allegation is that they are negligent and caused a personal injury, (the cyclist) would likely turn to a home insurance policy or a renter’s policy first,” said Krajden.

If a plaintiff suing a cyclist alleges that the cyclist is at fault in an accident, the plaintiff must prove the cyclist owes a duty of care. Whether a duty of care exists depends on the facts in that situation, said Krajden.

In addition to proving the cyclist has a duty of care, the plaintiff would also have to prove the cyclist somehow failed to meet the standard of care required by civil law.

“The standard of care is determined by considering what would be expected of an ordinary, reasonable and prudent person in the same circumstances,” LexisNexis reports.

So if you have a duty of care towards someone, and if you fail to meet the standard of care and the other person is injured or suffers property damaged, you or (your insurer) could be forced to pay that other person.

In Ontario, bike riders must share the road with others and obey all traffic laws, notes Toronto-based Ambridge Law. The Highway Traffic Act stipulates a bicycle is a vehicle, so cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers and cannot carry passengers.

What happens if a motor vehicle is involved?

“All cyclists in Ontario involved in car accidents have access to accident insurance benefits, even if the accident was their fault,” reports Ottawa based Grenier Law, whose areas of practice include pedestrian and bicycle accidents.

“Bicycle accident cases can get very complicated and involve a number of parties, including motor vehicle operators who may be held liable,” Grenier Law notes. “It is worth noting that a car doesn’t even have to be moving for you to have a collision; ‘dooring’ [is] when a motorist opens their door without looking, and a cyclist runs into it. As well, some cycling accidents can be caused by dog attacks.”

So what happens if a cyclist gets into an accident on private property, and no vehicles, pedestrians or other bikes are involved?

This is where the Occupiers’ Liability Act could come into play.

In this scenario, if the cyclist wants to sue a property owner or manager, alleging that dangerous conditions on the property caused the accident, the cyclist would have to prove the property occupier failed to meet the legal standad of care, suggested Krajden.

“If I am operating any type of business and I am inviting people on to my premises, a duty of care is already established by the Occupiers Liability Act to maintain the premises so as to be reasonably safe.”