Registered users can save articles to their personal articles list. Login here or sign up here

Vitality Open made me a (much) better driver

Why Discovery Insure’s driver behaviour programme is not a gimmick …

Discovery’s Vitality Open, where all South Africans are incentivised to get active and drive well in its Active Rewards programme, is an unprecedented behavioural experiment.

Non-Vitality members are motivated to get active and reach weekly goals to earn points that can be exchanged for rewards. Many existing Vitality members are already engaged, but the added awareness of the Open – plus some healthy peer pressure from friends – has no doubt boosted activity.

It’s the driving angle, however, that I find particularly compelling.

It would be tempting to dismiss this as an advertorial, as some did Tuesday’s opinion on Leroy Merlin’s entry into the South African market (Read: Look out Builders, the French are here!). It is not. I no longer even hold any Discovery shares.

In the Open, participants use the Discovery Insure app on their smartphones to measure how ‘well’ they drive (Discovery Insure customers can install a dedicated Vitality Drive Sensor, linked to their smartphone, in their cars).

Driving activity is measured across five vectors: braking, acceleration, cornering, speeding, and phone use. Each trip is scored across these five, resulting in an overall trip score.

During the Vitality Open, you need to drive 100 consecutive kilometres event-free to earn reward points. Discovery describes “event-free” driving as “smooth acceleration, smooth braking, smooth cornering, driving within the speed limit, reduced night-time driving, and no cellphone use”. In other words, your trips need to score four or five stars.

Any trip with an incident – think harsh cornering or braking, or cellphone use – sees your progress reset to zero, and the count towards 100 km starts anew.

I’ve previously admitted that I’m a sucker for gamification. My fitness goal streak stretches back right to the launch of Active Rewards. So far, I’ve had over 600 km scored in the past three weeks, and have achieved the weekly 100 consecutive event-free goal each time. My Driving Score is a not-quite-perfect 761 (out of 850).

I can say with absolute conviction that knowing I’m being scored has made me a more engaged driver. It’s also made me a better one. I’m far more aware of the environment around me, and (even in my VW Up!) I’m no longer racing robot to robot as most of Gauteng does. Getting a four or five star result for braking is harder than you think!

That said, I’m still not convinced Discovery is getting as much mileage as it could be on the Insure front. So far, the only messaging I’ve received (both in the Discovery app as well as via push message) has been that I qualify for a “Guaranteed reward of up to R381 with Discovery Insure”.

Figuring out what this guaranteed reward is for the first six months of your policy is pretty convoluted (there’s an exhaustive explanation in this document). Your reward is a rand value of between 5% and 50% of your Vitality drive points or the score reached during the Vitality Open (whichever is higher).

This means I could get a cash reward of up to 50% of 761 (hence the R381). To get that maximum reward each month, I need to be on the Classic or Executive plan, and take out both car and home insurance. After month two, I’ll need to have installed a Vitality drive sensor, completed a multi-point vehicle check and linked the Vitality drive card (used to track fuel rewards) to keep getting a higher cash back.

Fuel rewards (where driving well earns you up to 50% of your fuel spend back) only kick in after the six-month period, which hasn’t been widely communicated at all.

It is easy to dismiss either the Vitality Open or Discovery Insure’s driver behaviour programme as a gimmick.

But, over time, the insurer has been able to positively impact driving behaviour, which results in insurer savings, which it then passes back to customers in the form of member incentives.

In its results presentation for the year to end-June it revealed that its (car insurance) members have a 10% better driving score compared to the population, and that it sees a 15% improvement in driving behaviour over one month, on average.

Source: Discovery Holdings FY18 results presentation

There are clear correlations between health, wealth and driving.

And, even with the probable bias inherent in the sample, the trend for Discovery Insure drivers is clear.

Source: Discovery Holdings FY18 results presentation

The Vitality Open has managed to get me to stop using – or even looking at – my phone while driving (we’ve almost all responded to that WhatsApp message without thinking!). Not even Apple’s ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature – released last year in iOS 11 – could manage this. It was far too easy to simply turn it off with two taps.

On this score alone, the Vitality Open is an unquestionable success.

* Hilton Tarrant works at YFM. He can still be contacted at

And he is a Vitality Active Rewards member.

Get access to Moneyweb's financial intelligence and support quality journalism for only
R63/month or R630/year.
Sign up here, cancel at any time.



To comment, you must be registered and logged in.


Don't have an account?
Sign up for FREE

One should be more diligent when “I’ve previously admitted that I’m a sucker for gamification. ” Background:
I’m semi-retired pensioner.
Journalists: Please be more careful for ‘fake news’ – very often in ‘respected press’ and almost always when PC.
With similar Outsurance gimmick: After reaching 5% discount, the better my other metrics get – about 80% – the app claims my driving behaviour goes down. I drive with my wife 90% of time – almost identical style and app any way cannot distinguish who drives. ….
My driving score going down-down- to below 50% – hers 80%. ?!! App representatives give ‘blank type’ response.
Good ‘shrewd’ marketing: yes
Ethical: I doubt. From optimist to realist in Africa after few quick experiences ….

I fully agree with Benvtza!
One has to look at the full holistic insurance approach that Discovery follows across their product range. I’m not buying this “BS” (does not stand for Balance sheet) of rewards/better driver/healthier person and for me the approach basically serves the purpose to take focus away from the fact that you are overpaying significantly on your premium – I left Discovery Insurance some time ago onto a much simpler scheme where I’m saving R900 pm on my underlying premium.

It gets worse when you consider the medical scheme side and then bring into play the rewards you receive for living healthier through Vitality (which you pay for by the way).
Simple maths for past 24 months – Monthly premium for 4 on Classic comprehensive plan (all rounded): 11k x 12 = 132k + claims (127k) – claims settled (86k) = 163k cash outflow AND YOU WANT ME TO GO HALLELUJAH EVERY TIME I SIP ON MY FREE SMOOTHY? (a lot of people dont notice since it is company benefit paid on their behalf)

You don’t want to pay for preventive type treatment on the medical side but will give me a coffee/wrap because I sat shaking my watch for 30mins this morning to get the step counter up?

Already looking at different options for 2019.

PS – interesting point around gamification because that is exactly what Vitality has become – a online gambling platform with all bells/whistles where you spin for this and win something – you have better chance with National Lottery in my view

Discovery are the shrewdest marketers around while collecting big data making them a bigger marketing threat in the future.

Well said, always worth considering how much extra one is paying in order to be able to qualify for these rewards. Not to mention Discovery’s new game board seems to have significantly reduced ones expected rewards based on what I’ve heard. Has this just been a smart way to reduce there total expected payouts while people sit and pray for their 1 in a million chance at an apple watch?

Discovery Drive has completely reformed me. I was a literal hell driver from the age of 18 to the age of 37. Nothing could ever slow we down, it was worse than cigarettes (I drive GTI’s and love acceleration and performance vehicles). A year after switching from another insurer to Discovery, I am a proud ‘Diamond’ status driver (no mean feat). I drive like an octogenarian, in the slow lane, and I don’t mind! Every month I get back more than half my total insurance premium (house, car, all risks) in cold, hard cash. Roughly R800 per month. This is a greater thrill than speeding around town.

“investeroid’…..Mmm…besides smacking of a little paid trolling for Discovery here, why on earth you need policing from an app to make you drive better is severely disturbing

So, in the same light, I guess you dont steal as much when you have a policeman looking over your shoulder


Really, you sheeple are perfect fodder for the new police state, who in the end will be monitoring you 24/7, all insidiously cloaked under the benign ‘technology to make you better/safer’etc fashionable terms

And you dont even see it coming.

Google the word ‘statist’

You kindergarten ppl who need the govt and big corporations to change your nappies are the perfect candidates


Hilton, thanks again for your review of Vitality (Open) – always insightful. But as usual, you do tend to rave a lot, and rant very little, so as a balance, I’d like to share my experience with Vitality Open.

Before I start, a little background. I’m a very considerate, decent driver. My friends sometimes refer to me as Miss Daisy. I’m also a bit of a boy scout – always prepared and everything thought through, never taking risks and always well within my margins. I am, what many would call, the perfect candidate for insurance companies (and banks). So the following may come as a bit of a surprise.

Although I got a near perfect driving score (99.0) from the very first day, my total score is low, because I do “late night driving”. See, I stay 40km from work, so I leave home at 4am to be at the gym just before they open at 5am. This allows me to drive in to town when there’s almost no traffic on the road. Only, Discovery Insure thinks I’m out late and driving home, so I get penalised for driving at this time. Surely they can be a bit smarter, they know that I am driving FROM home, not TO home, so their app should compensate for this.

Every time I do a parkrun, the app thinks I’m driving, and penalise me for sharp cornering, harsh braking, etc. Although I can change the input to “by foot”, I would have thought that “driving in a park” is not possible, and their app should know this.

There is a spot near my home where a new traffic circle was built, about a year ago. Strangely, the map they are using does not reflect this. Since the traffic circle is built to one side, it means that if I go in that direction, I will be doing a fairly strange move to the left and back to the right had it been a straight road. Which is exactly what the app thinks, and I get penalised for that every time.

Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will – in one ride. Even though I seldom do harsh braking, sharp cornering or speeding, there was one Saturday ride where I avoided an accident 3 times by braking sharply and turning sharply. Unfortunately, it all being in one ride, it counted against me, not for me. The app does not consider my driving habits overall, but rather per ride. Oh, and this was around lunchtime on a Saturday, which according to Discovery is a much better time to drive than when I leave for work.

Both the Discovery Insure and Discovery Vitality apps are full of bugs. I have 3 issues outstanding, for over a week on each. They seem unable to resolve them, and the pain continues. One example is that, for Vitality Open, one only gets rewarded ONCE per 100km per week, but the behaviour of the app is to show a restart (rather than overlap) of the purple ring, hinting that you would get rewarded for multiple 100km drives, which is not the case. The recording of Discover Insure app data in the Discovery Vitality app is also very, very late. And the whole Friends thing, why is that even there when you can’t invite anyone?

When Discovery introduced HealthyFood, they also created some unintended but very irritating side effects. Often still, when I’m in the queue, I have to watch how people do two shopping sessions at the till, first the healthy basket (which gets recorded), then the not-so-healthy stuff (often paid for with another card). Basically, they are holding up the queue by doing dual transactions, in order to earn the benefit. The other day, I was driving with a friend who slowed down as they approached the green light. I asked him why he was doing it, and his answer was that he was partaking in the Vitality Open, and did not want to have to brake harshly. He did manage to get past the traffic light – only just – but because of his slowing down, the cars behind him did not. So one has to wonder, how much of what the app does is really instilling good driving, which also means to go with the flow, and how much is actually bad? How long before the Discover Insure app is blamed for driving inconsiderate of the rest of the traffic? How long before it results in road rage?

I do think the app has good intentions, but I also think it’s far from perfect. For now, I’m earning plays on the game board. But once the Open is over, I will leave. I’ve learned a few things though: I’m not going to join Discovery Insure anytime soon, given the number of bugs in the app, and the slowness to resolving them. Also because not all things are considered, like leaving home early. It get’s worse – because of this experience, I’m definitely not going to look at Discovery Bank anytime soon when it launches either. Discovery first needs to show they know how to handle situations that are slightly off the bell curve. Which is a pity, because as I said, I may be the perfect candidate for them.

And thus our Corporate Overlords make us think we are good drivers by giving us “rewards” for driving like they want us to. Such good boys and girls we are! Look, now we all drive like pensioners and nothing bad happens on the roads (we also end up late for everything and are bored to death). Then they tell us what to eat. Such nice healthy food, so tasty(less)! What next? What to wear? What to watch? Where to go to school? Where to work? Soon we will all be such nice Corporate Pawns, leaving everything in their hands, totally controlled.

It’s all nice and dandy, except for one thing: we would all of us then forgot to do one thing: to live.

“Guaranteed reward of up to R381 with Discovery Insure” – the words “Guaranteed” and “up to” don’t quite go together 🙂

As an active person and fairly good driver I tried to be optimistic about the Vitality Open however it was short lived. The limitations in terms of earning points for someone who
1. doesn’t go to the gym because it’s easier and cheaper to gym at home 2. who cut down on parkrun because of the crowds and chooses alternate running groups and
3. someone who prefers to wear a smartwatch to track steps instead of holding phone in hand all day to track steps via Samsung Health app, I can say this initiative is lacking thought.
I also tried out the Insure app (read: more apps to download) and the frustrations are endless.
1-switching on location,
2-switching on bluetooth,
3-switching off power saving mode.
Safe to say your battery will be low by the time you reach your destination and God forbid you meet into an accident you will have no battery life left to make a call.
Due to the limitations of Vitality Open I decided to sign up for Vitality. My 1st payment hasn’t even gone off and I am already considering cancelling. Have you seen the ts and cs for all the rewards offered (flight booster, shoe booster, bike booster). Life is already so complex and Discovery just adds to this. For peace of mind rather stay away from Vitality and Insure. When doing all the financials (what you pay vs what you gain) there are much better reward programmes out there (eBucks for the win).
As a Test Analyst let me not even get started on the bugs and usability of the apps!

…just imagine if one’s local Drivers Licensing authority can fall for this, then there will be no need to go and stand in queue every 5 years when drivers licence renewal is up: “the points alone should be sufficient to get your licence downloaded” *lol*

On a more serious side, these loyalty programs are cleverly designed to control human behaviour, and exactly for WHOSE benefit do you recon?? 😉

…I heard of someone that had to drive so slow on the national highway (trying to abide by some point system)….

….that when he stopped at the service station, he asked the pump attendant to give the REAR screen a clear wipe, caused by bugs flying into the back of the car!

We all know who to blame for the slow coaches at the traffic lights who effectively cut down the number of vehicles that can get through in every cycle, leading to more stress because of bigger and lengthier traffic jams, in turn leading to more stress related ailments. All a bit Big Brotherish, don’t you think?

See my post above, glad to know that others are seeing this problem as well.

I agree 100% Hilton, I am a discovery member and believe you me I used to drive like a maniac (foolishness of being a youth of course) and since I have moved to discovery my driving behaviour has vastly improved and I am grateful for their initiative

Those of us who are a bit more responsible drive properly because it’s the right thing to do. Not because someone will reward us for doing so.

This is like saying we need to bring out an app to reward people for not taking bribes. For not lying under oath. For not raping children. For not killing farmers.

Come on, people. We all know what’s wrong and what’s right. Do the right thing. Every day.

some lengthy comments here seems suspicious.

are they ‘planted’?

(reflecting both sides of the coin)

@mj stellenbosch

Most definitely planted…all the ‘pro comments’ are def paid

Just like Hiltons little fanboy fawn

Thanks Realitybites, for confirming, I have NEVER seen such a collection of LENGTHY posts!!!

I need a sticker on the back of my car “I am with Discovery Vitality insure, please be patient”. The number of looks, hoots, fingers and fists I get shown for driving “normally” are insane. Durban drivers are generally very impatient. Having said that I have been on the system gor over a year and enjoying the benefits. Premium not the cheapest but the fuel rewards make it cheaper. I have a dedicated phone in the car to run the app because of the battery guzzling and the wife and I often swop cars – works just fine. As for Vitality health, I don’t gym, and without that benefit I can’t justify the premium, the numbers don’t add up.

Load All 19 Comments
End of comments.





Follow us:

Search Articles:Advanced Search
Click a Company: