UK +44 (0) 1799 588588 / US Tollfree +1-866-711-4880

REDTAIL – FINALISTS in Insurance Times Awards 2021

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Redtail Telematics – finalists of the Insurance Times Tech & Innovation Awards 2021.


We at Redtail are pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted as one of the finalists in the “Best Use of Technology for Customer Experience – Motor” category of this year’s Insurance Times Tech & Innovation Awards – 2021!

Thank you Insurance Times.  We are so happy to have been nominated and wish all the nominees the best of luck.

What is Telematics? And is a box better than an app?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Have you ever heard the word telematics being used and wondered, “what is telematics?”?  We at Redtail Telematics have put together some information that we hope you might find helpful in answering that question.

According to Wikipedia, Telematics is:

Telematics is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses telecommunications, vehicular technologies (road transportroad safety, etc.), electrical engineering (sensors, instrumentation, wireless communications, etc.), and computer science (multimedia, Internet, etc.).

Telematics can involve any of the following:

What can telematics be used for?

The most commonly known use of telematics is for usage-based insurance.  Telematics-based car insurance will include the use of a telematics (black box) device in the vehicle.  The car insurance company will then give the policyholder driver feedback.  This is often followed by an increase or reduction in insurance costs based on driving behaviour.

Telematics is about monitoring your driving through behaviours such as your speed, braking and acceleration.

The data is recorded using various methods such as hard-wired or self-fit devices, or smartphone apps.  Redtail’s driver scoring is more detailed, so it uses many other factors, including environmental factors.  For example, the type of roads you drive along, the time of day you tend to drive (in the context of if it’s during the busier periods, not late-night driving) and your average speed in relation to other users of the same road at the same time of day.

This data allows car insurance companies to build a picture of the driver and establish a “risk” score.

Risk score is used to define how safe/unsafe the person’s driving is and offer rewards.

There are other uses for telematics in car insurance too.  Pay-by-mile car insurance companies, like By Miles or KOBA, use telematics data to work out insurance costs from miles driven.  This is a very cost-effective option if you need car insurance but don’t drive many miles each year.

Another option is for stolen vehicle recovery.  In this case, the black boxes are usually professionally fitted so they are somewhere hidden.

A car owner can install a telematics device in their vehicle to track their vehicle if it gets stolen

Telematics is also great for managing a fleet of vehicles.  You can use the data to monitor efficiency, safety, required maintenance etc.  This feedback can all be used to, for example:

  • Help optimise delivery routes
  • Reduce the time a vehicle is off the road for maintenance
  • Identify and remove any high-risk drivers or provide them with more training to make them safer on the roads

We’ve even been using our telematics technology in partnership with Synaptiv to work on pothole identification.  We’ll be talking about this in more detail soon, so I won’t focus on that too much now.  However, what I will say is that it is an exciting project!

What different types of Telematics devices are there?

Hardwired (professional-install)

Require a professional engineer. Great if you’re worried someone might tamper with the device. Since these are usually well hidden, they are useful for stolen vehicle recovery.  These are the most reliable and record the most accurate data. However, they can also be the most expensive because they need an expert to fit them.


OBD (self-install)

They are self-install and are usually very small because they connect to the vehicle’s OBD port. The data is just as reliable as a hard-wired device. However, self-fit can mean they aren’t always secured properly or get knocked out of the port.


12v plug-in (self-install)

These devices are also self-install, but they plug into the 12v socket in the vehicle. As with OBD devices, the data from these is just as reliable as a hard-wired device. Again, like OBD devices, a downside of these is if the “installer” doesn’t secure it properly.  In other words, the device can be prone to getting knocked about. Additionally, users might also be tempted to unplug this device if they want to use the 12v socket for another device. Redtail’s variant comes with a USB socket on the 12v plug and tamper detection technology to lower these risks.


Smartphone-as-a-sensor (no external installation required)

In contrast to the other options, this option requires no installation of any external device.  This is because the user’s phone is the telematics device. However, this is the least reliable option and should be avoided in favour of the telematics device where possible. Consequently, the data can be less appealing for crash analysis and claims handling; two key benefits of telematics data. Also, different phone brands have slight differences in how they work so no two phones will produce the same data. Furthermore, a phone will never be put in the same location in a vehicle every time, which affects the calibration/orientation sensors.


There are lots of negatives with this option, but there are positives too. For example, it’s:

  • A cheap option (for insurer and insured because no one has to pay the cost of a black box)
  • Less invasive/disruptive to the vehicle (no “unsightly” aftermarket devices)
  • Convenient (insured doesn’t have to find a time to book a fitting or to fit the box themselves)

Having read the options, which device do you think you would choose?

I have an OBD device in my car, so I suppose that’s my answer.  The Redtail OBD devices are so small and fit nicely in the OBD socket, so I easily forget it’s there.

So, hopefully, the information you’ve read above has proved helpful.  Do you think you could answer the question “what is telematics?” if someone asked you?  Hopefully, with our help, the answer is yes you can!

We’d love to hear your questions if there is anything telematics-related that we haven’t cleared up in this article.  Put your questions or comments in the comments section below and we’ll see if we can answer them.

Kit cars and Autosolos – a man and his adrenaline fuelled passion

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I recently had an interesting chat with our Head of Development and Operations, Stephen Byatt, about his passion for building stuff and winning. Whenever we have a Teams call, you can always see Lego projects that Stephen has built in the background. We quickly moved from Lego to track days, building cars and a thirst to win (Stephen is VERY competitive). I thought others might find these hobbies interesting so decided to share them with you (with Stephen’s permission, of course).


What is an “Autosolo”?

It’s short competitive racing around cones. A bit like gymkhana.

It’s different to circuit racing though. It’s much more of a planned methodical sprint. You walk the track beforehand, so it’s also a feat of memory. Each race takes between 30 and 60 seconds through a couple dozen “gates” marked out with cones. There are 8-12 races at each meet over different circuits. Max speed is rarely above 60mph. It’s good for agile cars that can handle being thrown around. And, the circuit is different every time, even if you go to the same venue.​

Do you always go to the same venue?

No. The events are organised by different motor clubs all over the country so not necessarily. Anglian Motor Sports Club invites clubs from all over the East of England to hold events. The timings from each event are collated by Anglian Motor Sports Club and they give out trophies etc based on the results. You must be a member of one of the motorsports clubs that’s involved to be able to compete.

Each meet has 20 to 40 cars. When I went in my road car last year, I was either 3rd or last. I could get around the track really fast, but my problem was I tended to make a lot of mistakes. You get penalties for making mistakes and it’s often the penalties that decide the places.​

What got you interested in it/how did you start doing it?

I discovered that it satisfies my need to build stuff (I use a kit car that I built myself to race), my need to drive competitively and my need to win (I’m VERY competitive).​

kit car being built

kit car being built

kit car being built

Are there any significant rules people might not know about?

The car you use in the event has to be road legal – you have to have driven to the event in the same vehicle that you use in the race. This is good in that it means people who race are more level/equalised.

If you break any of the rules then you can get disqualified from the event. It means you can still race in the other events but you’ll lose out on any potential points from that event so it would have a big impact on your potential final place.

What’s your favourite/worst memory on the track?

Favourite – first time I did anything competitive. I had done lots of track days for fun but in a competitive setting, it just brought it all to life. There is something to compete for, a target. I noticed that your neighbours in the paddocks are much more chatty – willing to share what times they get, braking points etc. Even though it’s competitive there’s a lot more sharing.

Worst – turning up after spending a lot of money getting there, hotels, fuel, new tyres etc only to mess up and ruin the car. At an event at Teesside karting track, I broke the diff because the car had too much grip on a very tight and twisty fast course. I was very disappointed that day.

Have you ever ended up in a situation that has scared you while out on the track?​

Race circuits are so much safer than on the road. They have lots of run-off and space, and all the cars are going in the same direction. The last thing they want to do is close the circuit if there is a crash so they’re also really quick to recover you and clean up.

The one place I’ve been truly scared was at Nordschleife at Nürburgring racetrack in the Eifel forest in Germany. It’s such a big track (13 miles) that it’s impossible to remember the whole track. It catches out the inexperienced. I came off the circuit once and ended up on the grass and thought I was going to end up in the trees. That was scary.

SRB driving in kit car

If you could pick any car, what would be your dream car to use?​

I don’t think I can answer that, I want to try them all.

What car do you drive when you do the autosolo?

An MEV Exocet. It’s a kit-car based upon an MX5. I had all the parts delivered to work so my wife didn’t see how much I’ve been ordering!! I built it in my workshop at home. It will do 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds (on a good day, with favourable winds). It weighs almost nothing and has more than 300bhp. It’s very driveable though and works well as both a road and race car. Except if it rains, as there’s no roof, windscreen or heater!

SRB driving kit car

Do you have a black box fitted when you’re driving round the track?

Yes. There’s always at least one box fitted. Primarily, as a tracker just in case it gets stolen. Secondly, telematics can help in motorsport. Looking at gyro and accelerometer data after the race can shed light on racing performance. I need all the help I can get to win trophies!



Isn’t it a bit of an expensive hobby?

Yes, but it’s worth it!

What would be your number 1 tip for someone who wants to get into autosolo or track days?

That’s easy – driver tuition. People automatically assume they’ve got to do something clever with their car but, in reality, a rookie is only ever going to be as good as the training they get. Lessons in track driving are far more important than the type of car you’re using.​

What the biggest mistake a rookie should avoid?

Taking it too seriously. Just enjoy yourself and “be prepared to spend a s**t load of money”.

SRB driving in kit car

‘GTM’: the KOBA/REDTAIL version – Go To Market

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Another acronym.  I know what it means for me, but was mildly amused by results from GTM – Definition by AcronymFinder, which include Great Tibetan Marathon (sounds hilly), Garfield the Movie (Bill Murray funny), and pervasively (and perhaps unsurprisingly) top of list Google Tag Manager.

For me, and for our ‘fairer motor insurance for Australia’ partner KOBA, it means Go To Market.


More importantly, it means genuine collaboration on a detailed action plan to fulfil market needs in a timely and (crucially) cash-conscious manner.  A little more detail:


Starts with an idea, a hunch – in this case prompted by ByMiles success with a low-mileage proposition in the UK – new and promising in Australia.  Can be corroborated with primary or desk research into appetite and competition, and of course a sense of the economics of the thing.  And I’d like to think REDTAIL added a little insight in discussion with KOBA CEO Andrew Wong on multiple early morning/early evening chats.


Having qualified demand, how to get there? Clearly where the KOBA/REDTAIL partnership intensified was around the device/data solution. We (and I mean we) understand the options for miles tracking device, and its necessary connectivity with appropriate network provider. REDTAIL (Cambridge UK) and KOBA software folk (Mike, Rock Creek and Jon, Anaheim, both USA) defining API access and configuration to generate journey data of value

And then engaging with Erica, KOBA Brand Communications Director on minutiae of device packaging, branding, and consumer communication around product and service.

And then sorting fulfilment logistics with and through our Clarion Malaysia manufacturing facility through to KOBA partner Intellitrac.

And then liaising with Andrew W. on launch plans and demand build up and forecast and readiness and timing and cashflow (vital for start-up)…… all amidst a global pandemic. Same for all of us, right?


Soft launch mid-August, hard launch early October. Devices are delivered, test journeys evident, early adopter marketing underway (PRE-REGISTER NOW at KOBA Insurance – Pay Per KM Car Insurance), and now the exciting part:



Keep you posted………



Can telematics & cameras improve school bus safety?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Zen-tinel and Redtail Telematics’ partner to improve the safety and efficiency of student bus transportation for Central Pennsylvania School District (CPSD) utilizing onboard telematics and camera solutions

Zen-tinel and Redtail Telematics’ partner to improve the safety and efficiency of student bus transportation for Central Pennsylvania School District (CPSD) utilizing onboard telematics and camera solutions


Benefits include:

  • Provide real-time traffic support
  • Knowing each time a vehicle’s ignition is on or off to determine mileage, after-hour usage, idling and more
  • Efficient mileage data capture – save time on data entry and reporting to authorities
  • Maintaining a healthy vehicle battery and creating alerts to notify the driver if battery voltage levels drop
  • Assessing and improving driver behavior; heavy braking, acceleration, speeding, incident notification and crash assessment


In addition, CPSD and their operations team can utilize route efficiency algorithms to maximise fuel consumption, achieving an estimated 18% saving year on year.  Utilizing the unique REDTAIL/Zen-tinel technology, CPSD can monitor when students board and leave the vehicle, and receive a gas reimbursement for mileage when a student is aboard.

Commenting on the success of the partnership, Len Kapp, supervisor of operations and transportation, CPSD said: “Zen-tinel and Redtail Telematics has been a game-changer. Redtail’s fleet management service has benefitted us in so many ways, with a reduction in fuel consumption across our fleet being the most significant, along with time saved on data reporting. This helps us provide a better service for the schools in terms of both safety and efficiency”.


CONTACT US – Redtail Telematics

TEL: 619-546-9061


CONTACT US – Zen-tinel

TEL: 724-357-9709



Partner is as Partner does, and says, and………

Reading Time: 4 minutes

REDTAIL works with both small and large businesses. In all those relationships, we strive to work with humility, empathy, and fortitude in order to, well, succeed together. The sum of which is that working with the right folk in the right way is imperative to growth.  This has consistently brought to the fore the meaning of ‘partner’ in our business relationships.

We’ve all seen it: Partner Programme, Partner Contract; Partner Relationship, Partner Pricing (pricing a subject all on its own!) – all ripe for abuse and exploitation – and of course opportunity. Very recently I was in a meeting in which the (large) company representative stated clearly and warmly: ‘We like to work with people as partners, where it’s about relationship.’ Nice. Conversely, I was in a meeting in which a (small/medium) company representative stated clearly ‘You are not a partner you are a commodity.’ Less nice.

I am happy to confirm that in my first example, the large company Partner has backed up their statement with collaborative behaviour.  Likewise, rather unfortunately, my second example has continued to… abuse expectations, shall we say.


But what should ‘Partner’ mean, and when should this over-flexed term be used?

I offer three areas for discussion on partner behaviours:

  1. Mutual understanding of market(s) and business context
  2. Mutually beneficial directions & outcomes – interdependencies
  3. Respect

All very collaborative, positive behaviours that you’d want to experience in any relationship you find yourself involved in. But what do they mean? How can they be achieved?

Mutual understanding of market(s) and business context

This is not a history lesson. It is a dialogue (important word) on where a business has come from, its DNA, where its key people have come from, and where it hopes to get and how, and even when. Share (under NDA) to care, as they say. Dedicate the time and intellect. Question and listen to the answer. Understand and accept.

Mutually beneficial directions & outcomes

Perhaps the most difficult. It is a moving target of course. Understanding of today’s ambitions takes no account of market dynamics that may impact both direction and outcome. Acceptance can be tested by a seemingly inconsistent knee-jerk reaction. Relationships can be impacted without transparent communication. Having said that, to continue to enable growth, for outcomes to be celebrated mutually, surely a worthwhile investment in every sense of the word.


‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements’;

‘due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others’

Nuff said?

So when should we use this term? Difficult to be prescriptive, and I would certainly urge a considered approach. What I am sure of is that when you mean it, say it, and when you say it mean it.  Act accordingly and with consistency, resolve, and not a little humility, empathy and fortitude.