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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
And he is a Vitality Active Rewards member.