Electric, not autonomous vehicles keeping underwriters up at night

Electric car

The impending presence of electric vehicles on UK roads is keeping underwriters awake at night, a conference has heard.

Speaking at Post’s Motor Insurance World Conference in London, Paul Hanwell, head of underwriting strategy & control at Direct Line Group, said it is electric and not autonomous vehicles that should be dominating underwriters minds.

“The underwriters challenges of old still remain today. I still want to know who you are, what you’ve got and what you’ll be doing with it.”

“There’s a lot of talk about level two and level three automation, but it’s electric vehicles that keep me up at night,” he said.

“We often focus on the drive to automation and how we will ideal with it but electric vehicles give me more of a headache than anything else. Autonomy will be an incremental build up. Electric vehicles are now.”

The industry will need to be are those highly experienced customers with a clean driving and claims record may not be prepared for the experience of an electric vehicle, he said, and therefore represent a different risk in an electric powered car then they otherwise would in a conventionally powered car.

Hanwell added: “An electric drive train works completely differently to a conventional combustion engine and the experience is very different. This is something to be concerned about. Does it need new or different driving skills to drive or des it even require drivers going back to basics in order to learn how to use such vehicles?” 

Hanwell said the development of electric vehicles is “been driven from on high” and the growing level of investment from government bodies and motor manufactures should act as warning sign that underwriters need to think about how the view the risk.

Motor giant are BMW are investing $7bn into bringing 25 electronic models to market, Daimler are investing $10bn for 10 electronic models on sale by 2022 and Ford are spending $3.8bn for 13 models by 2020.

‘This is all much nearer term and this is the first stage on which automation will be built on. It’s happening much faster,” he said.

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