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Discovery Insure – finally safe driving?

  -   5. May 2017
Source: MikesPhotos/

Discovery Insure acknowledges that roads are covered with speedster and slowcoaches everywhere. Everybody feels the desire to overtake or to brake those persons is dangerously high. The company shall provide a remedy.

Everybody knows the above mentioned struggles of driving on a daily base. Most of accidents happen due to those small issues and can be easily avoided if people would act appropriately. Unfortunately this is not the case but what if a single application can prevent that?

An innovative South African entrepreneur initiated the insurance company Discovery Insure to eliminate the risks of driving. They started their business in the insurance industry with Discovery Limited in 1992. After a couple of years the startup developed to a great and international successful enterprise and expanded internationally. They offer various long and short term insurances in sectors of:

  • health care
  • life insurance
  • savings and investment products
  • a wellness program

and in 2011 they introduced their innovative car insurance program. (Discovery Limited, 2017)

What makes Discovery Insure innovative?

The streets in South Africa count to the most dangerous ones in the world and despite all the already existing classic car insurances the rate of accidents does not decrease. They took that as inspiration to approach the system differently and reward the clients for good driving skills.

Discovery works with the latest telematics technology and digitalized their services to be attainable every time clients would require service. A sensor placed in the car and connected with an application tracks the client’s driving behavior for each trip they take like speeding, acceleration, harsh breaking, cornering and even the use of cellphones while driving. (Discovery Limited, 2017)

How to achieve rewards?

The given data can be seen in the application which scores you among all other customers of Discovery Insure by rating the style of driving, saves all trips and compares them. If you improve your driving skills you will be ranked higher step by step and for each improvement you will receive a reward. Those rewards can be 50% of fuel spent each month, a lower cost of policies, free parking, free car wash or even free drinks. (DiscoverySA, 2017) As you can see the reward system scores with its diversity.

But does it really make the streets safer? The goal of the rewards shall serve as a motivation for the customers to increase the awareness, improve their own driving skills and make the streets safer. In fact the rate of accidents in south Africa decreased by roughly 10 percent from 2014 to 2016. (Discovery Insure, 2016) The customers lower their costs of their insurance contract and the percentage of claims decrease therefore it is a win-win situation for both sides. (thedigitalinsurer, 2016)

Discovery Insure driving challenge

In 2014 the company challenged all the South African citizens to a driving competition in order to motivate them improving their skills. The first one has been established in 2014, with 60.000 participants where they collected more than 70 million km telematics data within 20 days. They can even win a prize: a share of R1 million in fuel vouchers. Participants have been extremely motivated that after only two days all participants improved their skills by 20% on average and moreover woman obtained even better results than men. A second one was carried out in 2015. People took that as a chance to improve their previous scores, and disprove the results of 2014. Men were encouraged to outperform women and vice versa they tried to outclass men. (Cover, 2015)

As you can see by that challenge people were motivated and spurred to improve their driving skills – in order to win the prize or not does not matter.

By giving the people a personal score, rating the style of driving, the user’s attention is called to oneself, realizing how well or bad his or her driving skills are, as many people overestimate their skills most of the time while driving. By setting incentives the clients stay engaged and actually really seek for improvement in order to receive a reward. As a result the application helps to increase the awareness of the own capabilities and weaknesses and furthermore helps to reveal exactly what needs to be improved. It really makes streets safer.

Who wrote it?

Julia Herhammer

Julia Herhammer studies at the European Management School in Mainz.


Annika Amann
09-05-2017 12:10

In January, I've been in Cape Town and I can confirm: the streets in South Africa are everything but safe. I've seen plenty of accidents happening on Cape Town's Streets and as least as much damaged and dented cars. The more I like the genius idea of making streets safer by rating, tracking and rewarding drivers and their driving styles. I also think that this innovation can totally revolutionize our insurance-system. While making the people more aware of their driving styles it does also set incentives for safe driving. But not only South Africa's streets are suffering from safety problems on streets. Worldwide there is the need to make the roads safer. Hopefully this innovative way of insuring people will prevail – not only in South Africa- also in other parts of the world to make the streets we are driving on safer.

Lea Rottmann
08-05-2017 12:17

In my opinion, safe roads are an issue worth investing in in every country. I generally believe rewards to be much more effective than punishment, because people are shown their good qualities instead of their mistakes and weaknesses. This makes Discovery Insure unique and uplifting for the driver in contrast to commonly known measures on the street like speeding cameras, which annoy everyone. While reading the blog I asked myself if it is possible to internationally standardize this application, because different countries and roads do require different driving skills and behaviors. However, this merely is a minor question and does not hinder the invention to be a great incentive for safer driving. Due to the fact, that the amount of cars on the streets will continuously increase worldwide, an application like Discovery Insure can actively contribute to safer roads. The idea of an application tracking and rewarding driving behaviors sounds very innovative and valuable for our future.

Jil Becker
07-05-2017 17:59

I like the innovation you described very well, but I have never heard of it before. The concept of a win-win situation sounds convincing if on the one hand, costumers lower their costs of their insurance contract and on the other hand the percentage of claims decrease. Moreover, it is nice to hear that they have a decline of 10% concerning the rate of accidents in South Africa within 2 years. In general I thought about that probably the drivers are more likely to take part in Discovery Insure, who already drive more cautious and more attentive than speedster.

Clara Brilmayer
06-05-2017 19:27

I am very positively suprised by this approach of making streets safer again. It reminds me a little bit of Pavlov's classical conditioning, where he also tried to get the desired outcome with the help of reinforcement. My first thought was: "Is this really the right way?" But as we can see, all the fines and the already existing ways of making people aware of their offences in their driving style, helps only a little. In my opinion, reinforcement generally works better than punishment. The idea of monitoring and showing people how they drive and behave in traffic, raises the awareness and makes them more conscious about it. I think, that only the demonstration of the driving--style may be sufficient for most of the people to drive more attentively and careful. The reward-system is just an additional incentive that makes it even more attractive to some, but of course, nobody would refuse a free fuel spent or other prices.

Carolin Wolf
06-05-2017 14:16

Hey Julia, I was really captivated by reading your blog entry. I must admit, I would definitely join that insurance company as a customer. I think it is a perfect method to make the streets much safer. Luckily in Germany the amount of car accidents is decreasing but there are still car crashes which could be avoided. I think this innovation from South Africa could be adopted for the German market as well. The grading system of the insurance company makes people think about their style of driving, people are not speeding anymore, which is a big problem especially in the North of Germany and at the same time they become motivated by the rewards they can get after a safe drive. The German insurance companies can definitely learn a thing or two from the South Africans.

Mona Anthes
05-05-2017 11:55

The topic you choose is really interesting. The idea of tracking, rating and rewarding the style of driving is very clever. Also the idea with the app for a constant abstract is a great way to make people aware of their driving style and connected with a competition or ranking it is a effortlessly manner to improve the safety of South African streets. It is a perfect way to motivate people to drive responsible. Wo does not want to lower their insurance fee or other rewards? The only problem I see is that a lot of people probably do not want to be tracked. Especially elderly people are often concerned about the disclosure of personal data. I think it also a matter of culture whether this approach is accepted or not.



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