Though adopted early by personal lines insurers, telematics technology is just coming into its own in the commercial auto space.

According to Zach Schmiesing, director, Commercial Lines, IoT/Telematics at Verisk Analytics, commercial insurers are examining the differences in commercial driving behavior to evaluate what types of services and discounts would best serve policyholders.

Schmiesing estimated a 40-60 percent penetration rate among fleet operations that have already adopted telematics and use it to understand driving behavior and better control the total cost of vehicle ownership.

Right now, insurers utilize some telematics data for rating and claims resolution.

“We’re also starting to see more and more companies look into accessing the data from these hardwares and plug-in devices on the claims side, as well, and I think that’s an interesting use case,” said Schmiesing. “It’s just starts to build this more robust story around how telematics can be more involved and can really be an integral part of the entire insurance policy lifecycle.”

Telematics can improve claims handling in several ways. Automatic accident notification to insurers can reduce time lags associated with first notice of loss and calls to tow truck companies can also be automated, he said.

“This really allows for quicker claims resolution,” said Schmiesing.

He sees here areas of missed opportunity. He said insurers lag in using telematics to improve customer service — for example, using it to reinforce safe driving habits.

According to Schmiesing, the international insurance market has already begun to integrate third party services. International insurers have offered coupons for coffee, snacks and oil changes. This offers an insurer the opportunity to enhance the customer and driver experience, he said.

Telematics is no longer viewed by fleet operators as a big brother technology, he added, indicating that it keeps small problems from turning into bigger ones.

*A version of this story ran previously in our sister publication Claims Journal.