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Collision avoidance systems and insurance premiums: is there a link?

28 Oct 2012 at 16:52

Cars are getting ever-safer, to the point where many vehicles can now avoid a collision for you, or at least mitigate the impacts of a shunt.

But if cars can now think and act for themselves, meaning accidents are now more avoidable than ever, does it mean that we should be seeing a reduction in our insurance premiums for owning vehicles fitted with hi-tech safety kit?

Probably, yes. Realistically, no.

According to reports by the American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these electronic aids are improving accident avoidance.

Vehicles with systems that use radar and cameras to detect objects in front, warning the driver of an impending collision and applying the brakes automatically if they fail to respond, are 14% less likely to be involved in an accident, according to IIHS data.

Even what are perceived to be optional fripperies – such as adaptive headlights – were shown to reduce accident rates.

It proves investment from big corporations and large vehicle manufacturers in this sort of technology is justified. If it wasn’t going to improve safety, why would they invest millions of pounds in developing it?

It begs the question, then, why aren’t insurance companies recognising that modern safety aids reduce our exposure to accidents, meaning our premiums can also be reduced?

Well, many suspect it stems from the quest for revenue – keeping cover costs the same means insurance companies can grow their margins and their profits.

But the crop of new accident avoidance systems could help to curb the rising number of fraudulent insurance claims resulting from induced, staged and contrived accidents, too.

The average small injury claim – including whiplash – stands at £8,400 and costs the industry an average of £400 million per year.

Cutting this out should mean our insurance policy prices are reduced to acceptable levels, especially when evidence from recognised safety organisations like Euro NCAP proves that cars are now safer than ever before. Here’s hoping…

Useful links:

What are 'induced' accidents?

What are 'staged' accidents?

What are 'contrived' accidents?