Just 23% of UK drivers consider themselves to be a better than average driver

April 11, 2014

As telematics technology evolves and the focus on being able to reward careful driving intensifies, new research questioning Brits about their driving skills highlights a surprisingly low estimation of the nation’s driving ability. Indeed, when asked if they believe they are better than average drivers – only a third (36%) of British drivers believe they are better than average behind the wheel.

It is the nation’s men who are the most confident about their driving abilities – today, more than four in ten (43%) British male drivers believe they have better than average driving skills. By contrast, British women are considerably less confident about their driving abilities, with less than three in ten (28%) of the opinion that they are better than average drivers.

But while there is growing attention surrounding the development of telematics technology, Mintel’s research found just three in ten (31%) Brits would be happy for their driving skills to be monitored through technology. And interestingly, while Britain’s men are more confident about their driving skills, they are less than enthusiastic about having their driving skills monitored in order to see the impact it has on their car insurance policy. Indeed, just a third (33%) of men are happy for their driving behaviour to be monitored. And it seems Britain’s young are also less keen to have their driving skills monitored, just a quarter (24%) of 17-24 year olds are happy to have their driving monitored compared with two in five (40%) of the nation’s oldest drivers – those aged 65 and over.

Alexander Hiscox, Senior Financial Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Today’s drivers have a low estimation of their driving ability which is likely to be holding back the potential of telematics-based motor insurance and could explain why the uptake of telematics hasn’t been higher. Consumers could be afraid that their driving will not be safe enough to generate a significant discount on their policy. However, there is potential for motorists who are considered to be high risk, such as inexperienced drivers, younger drivers and less frequent drivers to use this technology to lower their premiums. If motorists are to habitually use telematics they need to be nudged into doing so, by being shown the benefits – making the ambiguous concept of ‘safe driving’ more tangible.”

Today, as many as half (49%) of the nation’s drivers are interested in a policy that rewards their good driving behaviour or skills. But despite an increase in the number of car insurers developing and offering telematics technology, ownership remains very low. Just 1% of car insurance owners have a car insurance policy which calculates premiums based on how often they drive, a figure which has remained the same over the last year.

Overall, two thirds (66%) of consumers hold a fully comprehensive car insurance policy, whilst only 6% own a third party or third party, fire and theft policy. Today, around a fifth (18%) of Brits do not hold a driving licence.

“The very concept of ‘driving ability’ is ambiguous, and confusing for consumers to comprehend. Companies selling telematics technology should help to clarify exactly what constitutes good driving, or what telematics measure.” Alexander continues.

While satisfaction levels with motor insurance are exceptionally high (85%) in the car insurance market, this hasn’t translated into a customer loyalty with a third (33%) of consumers switching provider at their last renewal and three quarters (75%) of motorists claiming to have shopped around at renewal.

Despite 80% of motorists reporting that they understand what they are covered for, half (50%) find policy documents unclear and confusing. Three quarters (74%) of consumers want to find out how their car insurance premium is calculated. Consumers also show a surprising willingness to communicate with their insurance provider remotely, either purchasing (39%) or managing (42%) their policy via smartphone/tablet or communicating via live online chat (57%). Three fifths (62%) of car insurance policyholders say that comprehensive cover is more important than price.

“Although much of the media attention in motor insurance has surrounded telematics and the development of driverless cars, it is simple communications technology which will have the most impact on consumers in the short term. Managing and purchasing policies on smartphones and tablets will make renewing and purchasing policies easier for motorists and Mintel’s research shows considerable appetite for this flexibility.” Alex concludes.

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