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Blog: Automotive technology must be managed to ensure it minimises risk on the road

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By 2020, 40% of cars on the road will have some sort of advanced driver assistance systems installed, but Neil Atherton, sales and marketing director at Autoglass, asks if insurers are even aware if these systems are switched on and calibrated correctly and if this should be reflected in the premium

Neil Atherton Autoglass
Neil Atherton, sales and marketing director, Autoglass

Automotive technology continues to evolve at great speed. New devices are continuously being added to vehicles, providing the driver with greater comfort, entertainment and most importantly, safety. However, these technologies have significant repercussions for the wider connected industries, and the new safety features may change the way vehicles and drivers are insured.

It is important the insurance industry stays on top of the latest technological developments to ensure policies reflect what is happening on the road. Safety features such as lane departure warnings and automatic braking are increasingly common, with market predictions suggesting that by 2020 40% of cars on the road will have some sort of advanced driver assistance systems installed.

Speaking with four of the top ten insurance companies in the UK, three out of the four said that the use of Adas leads to a reduction in premiums. None of the companies said the insurance is invalidated if Adas systems are switched off and only one company said policies dictate that Adas enabled technology always has to be switched on.

A supplementary survey of fleet managers also found that 72% did not receive any information on the Adas in the vehicle when they collected the car. Yet not using Adas limits the use of safety equipment in the car and increases the chances of an incident on the road. 

The impact of the wider industry

Other industries, such as the vehicle glass repair and replacement industry, have also had to adapt to the changing technology. Many of the sensors feeding into the Adas technologies sit on a vehicle’s windscreen. This means the sensors must be recalibrated after a windscreen is replaced to ensure the sensors are relaying the correct signals and alerts to the driver. There has also been a knock-on impact for the bodyshop industry, with many smaller independent bodyshops struggling to keep up with the rate of change and the new skills required to calibrate the sensors.

However, of the four insurance companies, none reported that an Adas recalibration is mandated in insurance policies when a windscreen replacement is carried out. If the sensor is not calibrated correctly it could have dangerous consequences on the road, as the driver will be relying on a faulty system. This means Adas calibration is of the utmost importance and drivers who have insurance premiums calculated based on the fact that they are using Adas correctly, could be in fact be at far greater risk on the road than they, or their insurance provider, realise.

It is imperative that this is reflected in new insurance policies. While it is absolutely correct that the use of Adas is likely to lead to a reduction in premiums as the driver is safer on the road, the policies should also be updated to ensure that the Adas is switched on and calibrated correctly. If not, the driver may be benefiting from reduced premiums that come from Adas but not using the technology correctly to maximise safety.

Insurance companies need to understand the importance of Adas recalibrations to ensure their premiums are accurate, but most importantly that drivers are safe. 

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