BMW April 2022

The capability of the new cars that are joining the UK’s roads is evolving quickly. Even mass market family hatchbacks are packed with intelligent sensor based, technology and software-enabled systems that aim to improve driver experience, safety and security, writes Jonathan Hewett, CEO Thatcham Research.

This is a good thing. But the pace of change can be a challenge for insurers. We are moving into a whole new paradigm of vehicle in an ever more complex mobility ecosystem. Insurers need to develop evolving approaches to vehicle risk analytics – right down the smallest specification – associated with each vehicle.

That’s where our unique expertise and knowledge comes in.

Delivering data into member workflows

Thatcham Research is continuing to grow as an intelligence-driven organisation based on valuable data sets and powerful analytics. One of the core priorities within our Enterprise Data strategy is to show that, as a business, we have ‘one version of the truth’.

We primarily build new vehicle data sets in two ways. First, car makers feed data directly into our PLAZA system, with PLAZA being a key element of our proprietary Vehicle Intelligence Platform which in effect, unites the automotive and insurance industries. The multi-dimensional data we generate through our independent vehicle tests which we design and execute also goes into PLAZA.

Our Vehicle Intelligence Platform currently has somewhere in the region of three-quarters-of-a-billion pieces of high-quality but anonymised claims data and has the capacity to gather terabytes of additional information daily. People talk a lot about data. But it’s meaningless if you can’t understand whether your data is accurate or missing vital elements. The art is knowing what’s important and relevant. This is one of our core skills.

By diligently interpreting data and using our understanding of insurance workflow, we create valuable insight and understanding that our Member insurers can simply integrate into their processes.

This is an increasing area of our technology focus and along with our capabilities in delivering insights through web services, finding ways to integrate with industry standards or proprietary insurer systems is a big part of our future roadmap.

This information gives our Members and stakeholders the power to make better, more informed and ultimately intelligent insurance decisions, whether they relate to a new policy premium, a renewal, a repair, or a vehicle write-off.

Listening to members and reacting to change

The way Thatcham Research delivers these data-rich products is driven by our focus on Member Success, continues Daniel Payne, Chief Digital Officer Thatcham Research.

“Listening to the voice of our Members and understanding what represents good value to them is critical to the work we do. And the colleagues in our product teams are responsible for forensically understanding the requirements of our Members so our product roadmaps are absolutely on point with our research priorities.

“Enhancing our capabilities here is again where our Enterprise Data strategy comes into effect. Embracing a culture of DataOps, we’ve merged our data engineering and analytics teams to essentially create an agile data analytics capability.

“This is to ensure we put meaningful, assured data into the hands of colleagues. To achieve that goal, we’re building and maintaining substantial predictive data models for things like electrification and ADAS. This allows us to give colleagues in our research and product teams an accurate viewpoint of where technology is heading, rather than saying what’s already happened through descriptive and diagnostic analytics. And we want our Members to be able to access and feed into the future insights that we are creating. Collaboration is hugely important.

“The final element of our Enterprise Data strategy focuses on leveraging the best technology to ensure we serve our information in the best way. Building on our existing relationships, and seeking integration with influential ecosystem players, we are exploring how we can continue to develop our Vehicle Intelligence Platform to ensure we have a strong analytics backbone, something we believe is crucial to us maintaining our status as a data-informed organisation.”

Data with unquestionable heritage

“Using these robust resources to serve data guarantees that everyone at Thatcham Research, our Members, and our stakeholders have one data point (or version of the truth) that is supported by an unquestionable heritage, showing it’s as correct as it can possibly be.

“As new vehicle technology evolves at pace, so does the granular quality of the data and insights that the insurance industry has access to. And thanks to the continued work of Thatcham Research, everyone benefits.

“Insurers formulate better premiums, car makers realise a lower total cost of ownership, and consumers are better protected on the roads,” believes Payne.


Thatcham Research