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Safe travels



Over the holiday period, in particular the festive season, millions of people drive along South Africa’s roads to visit family and friends, explore new destinations or enjoy a change of scenery.

The biggest problems for insurers is the spike in vehicle claims and ensuring their clients are safe. Discovery Insure data shows that there is a 15% increase in motor vehicle claims during the holiday season. Some insurers enlist the help of vehicle telematics to help keep clients safe.

Increasing adoption of vehicle telematics

A vehicle telematics device is a computer device consisting of a GPS tracking unit and various other on-board sensors that work together to monitor and report on the overall status and activities of the vehicle and behaviour of the driver, such as speeding and cell phone usage.


There are a range of vehicle telematics used in car insurance to track vehicles and monitor driver behaviour. These include:

  • Built-in telematics systems which are common in electric vehicles and new vehicle production
  • Deep installed devices that usually automatically include stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) capability
  • The drivers’ smartphone 
  • An insurer specific driving sensor such as Discovery Insure’s Vitality Drive Sensor, which works in combination with the driver’s smartphone.


We continue to see rapid growth in telematics adoption within the insurance industry as these devices provide a range of invaluable benefits to clients. There has been exceptional growth of smartphone-enabled telematics in particular, with the number of policyholders in the US moving to smartphone-enabled vehicle telematics increasing by two-fold during the three-year period ending 2021.

Enhanced road safety 

Vehicle telematics offer a variety of benefits especially during the holiday season when roads are extremely busy. These additional benefits include:

    • Ability to track your vehicle’s location in real time. This feature can be invaluable during holiday travel to reduce the risk of vehicle theft, increase vehicle recovery rates and provide peace of mind to loved ones who can track your progress. 
    • Emergency assistance following a vehicle accident or breakdown. This feature enables your vehicle to automatically alert emergency services, providing them with your exact location in case of a vehicle emergency. This quick response can be a lifesaver, especially in remote or less-travelled areas. An example is Impact Alert, which notifies the insurer and emergency services of a severe impact to your vehicle to which they can provide emergency response.
    • Monitoring driver behaviour during a trip. Telematics can monitor and report on driver behaviour, such as speeding, harsh braking and rapid acceleration. This encourages drivers to drive more cautiously and obey the rules of the road. Insurers may also provide incentives for driving well. For example, Discovery Insure’s Vitality Drive programme offers fuel cashback and other rewards for driving well.
    • Proactive weather and real time traffic updates. This information can help you avoid congested routes and adjust your travel plans to avoid unfavourable weather conditions, making your holiday journey smoother and safer. 
  • Improvements in road infrastructure. Telematics devices can enable an insurer to detect the location in which most accidents occur and the peril causing the accident. This may indicate that the underlying cause may be poor infrastructure or road hazards such as potholes or traffic lights out of order. With this information, insurers can introduce shared value initiatives such as Pothole Patrol, which fixes potholes in Gauteng. Pothole Patrol has fixed over 192 000 potholes since its inception in 2021, thereby reducing motor claims by approximately 20%.

Choosing the right telematics system

When considering a telematics system for your holiday road trip, you must keep in mind the safety features of various vehicle telematics and integration with rewards programmes. In addition, consider subscription costs and ease of use of the device as well as the device provider’s reputation.

Vehicle telematics is a valuable tool for ensuring safer holiday road trips. It provides real-time information and enhances driver behaviour which contributes to a safer and more enjoyable journey. While no technology can remove all risks on the road, telematics can significantly reduce them, letting you focus on making lasting holiday memories with loved ones. When planning the next holiday road trip, it is worth considering investing in a telematics system to safeguard road travels, making the journey as smooth as possible.