New Mobility

The decade of assistance systems

Driver assistance systems are playing an increasingly important role - also for insurers. They reduce the frequency of claims, but also drive up losses because the replacement parts equipped with various sensors are expensive. Looking at motor insurance, Karsten Crede of ERGO Mobility Solutions now finds it almost grotesque that we ask about occupational groups, homes or garages, among other things, in our application processes - yet largely disregard a technology that can have such a major impact on claims. This must change.

Sensors are indispensable for automated driving

Driver assistance systems are among the most important fields of technological development in the (German) car and supplier industry. Manufacturers and suppliers invest immense sums to make driving safer, more comfortable and easier. And they are doing so successfully. At the CES trade fair in Las Vegas in early 2023, for example, Bosch received two innovation awards: for accident detection of side collisions when changing lanes, swerving or at intersections, and for the so-called Ridecare Companion, which increases the safety of drivers and passengers in ride-sharing services and taxis.

The basic idea lies in ever-improving sensors (quantum sensors) that help with vehicle navigation, the control of airbags or ESP systems (electronic stabilisation programmes). In the process, hardware and software are networked together on the basis of cloud-based data services. With radar, lidar, video and ultrasonic sensors, the car has almost perfect "eyesight", which makes driving safer and will be indispensable for automated driving in the future.

EU regulation on assistance and safety systems

This development already started at the end of the 1950s. In 1958, the Chevrolet Imperial was the first car with cruise control, and four years later Mercedes-Benz introduced this innovation in Europe as well. In the 1960s, ABS followed, and around the 2000s, automatic distance control, lane departure warning and lane change assist were successfully implemented. Then, at the end of 2021, the next leap in development took place: Mercedes introduced the first Level 3 system, a so-called Drive Pilot, which can take over complete control on motorways.

Legislators are also putting on the pressure. In summer 2022, an EU regulation came into force that makes certain assistance and safety systems compulsory: from 2022 in all newly developed vehicles and then from 2024 in all new vehicles. Assistance systems are thus no longer a luxury found only in luxury class vehicles.

Influence on the motor vehicle insurance?

A concrete example: You can purchase a vehicle from the mid-range segment of a German premium provider either with the standard equipment, i.e. a minimum of assistance systems, or with the comprehensive assistance package. For just under 5,000 euros extra, you get the driver assistance complete package. Unfortunately, buying the complete package today would not yet have any influence on the insurance premium.

Therefore, for me, a first important step would be to add the assistance systems equipment to the type classification. This would make the purchase of safety worthwhile for customers in economic terms as well. The next step is about the effective use of assistance systems by the driver. The best system is useless if it is not used or is used incorrectly. By reading out vehicle data, it will be possible in future to determine whether and how often emergency brake assist or parking pilot is used. The results could be incorporated into the insurance premium, which would then be updated online on a monthly basis and charged to the customer in a precisely tailored manner. 

Finally, the challenge remains to determine the efficiencies and system limits of emergency braking assistants, active lane departure warning systems and parking pilots in order to reflect the respective effect in the premium as realistically as possible.

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