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Blog: Shaping the future of urban mobility

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There is no question that the UK is on the brink of big change in urban mobility and that it is set to transform the motor insurance landscape, says James Roberts, business development director for insurance at Europcar Mobility Group UK.

James Roberts Europcar
James Roberts, business development director for insurance, Europcar Mobility Group UK

The Department for Transport recently published its latest strategy paper on the issue of mobility – Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy – setting out the challenges and goals for creating an environment that is conducive to an effective social infrastructure. I believe this provides some very clear signals to the motor insurance market – and its supply chain – in terms of how services are shaped for the future.

The paper identified the key principles that will underpin the government’s approach to facilitating innovation in urban mobility: new modes of transport and new mobility services must be safe and secure by design; the benefits of innovation in mobility must be available to all parts of the UK and all segments of society, walking, cycling and active travel must remain the best options for short urban journeys; mass transit must remain fundamental to an efficient transport system; new mobility services must lead the transition to zero emissions; mobility innovation must help to reduce congestion through more efficient use of limited road space, such as through sharing rides and increasing occupancy; the market for mobility must be open to stimulate innovation; new mobility services must be designed to operate as part of an integrated transport system combining public. The report also highlighted private and multiple modes for transport users and data from new mobility services must be shared where appropriate to improve choice and the operation of the transport system. 

The motor insurance market undoubtedly has a role to play in supporting this vision for a more environmentally sustainable mobility future. Indeed, there is much debate and discussion being had about how motor insurance will adapt to provide the essential protection and support, as the ownership and usage of vehicles changes, from the wider use of electric to where liability will lie in relation to autonomous vehicles.

The supply chain supporting the sector must also step up to the mark.

In particular, suppliers to the insurance sector need to demonstrate an understanding of how their services can be effectively equipped to support the new mobility innovations that are undoubtedly coming down the road. And that requires a new way of looking at how service providers, such as bodyshops and replacement vehicle providers, are located and the facilities they offer.

The investment is needed, now, in the technology and training to ensure that support services are fit for purpose for the future. Technicians in garages and bodyshops need to be able to handle all the newest motoring innovations – from advanced driver assistance systems to electric – so that insurers can get policyholders’ vehicles repaired efficiently for a positive customer experience. Insurers should also be looking for access to a replacement fleet that provides similar or like-for-like alternatives when a customer’s vehicle is off the road, again delivering the best possible customer experience.

Focusing resources in centres of excellence, rather than spreading expertise and resources thinly across a wider network, therefore, makes a lot of sense. In the old days, being on the customer’s doorstep was considered a strength. Today, with so many customers not even leaving their home or workplace when their vehicle needs to be taken for repair, the ‘just round the corner’ philosophy is not as important. Instead, knowing that the job will be done right first time by qualified experts, and knowing that a choice of vehicles is available that matches customer expectations, should be the objective.

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