If you had a supercar – say, one costing a quarter million bucks – you could get this service from some insurers (you phoned them when you started driving the car and phoned again when you stopped), but it wasn’t practical for most people. Now Norwich Union in the UK is offering it – and says that if you drive under 6000 miles/10,000 km annually, you can save up to 30% on your car insurance bill. The technology is a GPS based in vehicle unit (IVU) in the car, IBM for the telematics software, Orange for connectivity, and a Teradata database (Wal-Mart runs Teradata) to crunch the massive number of records collected. NU pricing actuary Tony Lovick says that when NU has between half a million and 1 million customers signed up there will be about 1 billion rows of data generated every day.

Progressive is trying something like this in the U.S. and finds the number one indicator for accident likelihood is simply how hard drivers apply their brakes. The ZDNet story states,

There is greater driver choice, with the potential for lower costs and greater risk awareness. There is greater safety on the roads for all. And society, as a whole, benefits from saved lives and less fuel burned.

NU is promising to release its SQL database scheduling code as freeware.