NRMA Insurance will reduce premiums for those who own vehicles with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) fitted as standard, but rival insurers will not follow suit any time soon.
Head of research Robert McDonald made the announcement this week, revealing that depending on the type of system, car owners who take out a new policy with NRMA or renew their existing policy could save up to 15 per cent.
“Several vehicle manufacturers now offer AEB, often as part of an options package. NRMA Insurance only recognises standard fit AEB vehicles, and we hope to offer an incentive to vehicle manufacturers to include this technology as standard rather than an option. This could help reduce the risk of rear-end collisions on our roads and have a positive effect for customers,” McDonald said.
Developments in technology have resulted in an increasing number of cars with cameras, lasers and radars installed along the bumpers, making the cost of repairs more expensive. It’s hoped the tactics will pay off by encouraging manufacturers to include AEB as standard thereby reducing the number of rear-enders and decreasing the cost of payouts for increasingly expensive repairs while at the same time saving customers money on premiums.
AEB uses radars, scanners and cameras to monitor the environment around the car. The technology can help avoid a crash at low speeds by braking for you and in some instances can mitigate the impact of a crash at higher speeds (CarAdvice tested a number of systems recently, to find out exactly how it works – watch the video here).
NRMA Insurance says its data shows around 80 per cent of collisions occur at low speeds and believes AEB is important to help make our roads safer. Its also about educating drivers on new safety technology, what’s available and why its worth considering.
“As new technology arrives and we think there’s something worth talking about we’ll try and make sure people are aware of it. It’s a matter of getting people accustomed, most people know what ABS is these days but that’s taken a long time,” McDonald said.
So will AEB become mandatory to achieve a five-star ANCAP rating?
“ANCAP won’t be able to include it till probably 2017 because they have an agreement with the federal chamber of automotive industries here about not including new five star requirements, but ANCAP will be able to include it as a separate rating like they did with pedestrian ratings,” he said.
The battle to keep customers and offer the most competitive premiums is fierce, and we have to wonder if other leading insurers will follow suit.
AAMI is sticking with its own tried and tested formula. When asked whether its also looking at offering discounts for specific safety features, Rueben Aitchison, corporate affairs manager for AAMI Personal Insurance had this to say:
“Unlike most other insurers, we don’t make a song and dance about ‘special discounts’ for certain safety features – we prefer to keep things simple for customers and just go about factoring them into our pricing engine, recognising what cars and features have lower accident rates and repair costs etc,” Aitchison said.
“Given we handle more than 250,000 accident claims each year, we have a pretty good idea about the safety and accident records of the different makes and models and offer lower pricing points for those with a lower risk of collisions. We also have a dedicated team whose role it is to monitor and investigate vehicle technology developments here and overseas and work to understand what that means from a risk and repair perspective and then feed those learnings into our pricing engine.”
Youi is also sticking with its rate for risk model but is keenly watching to see what will happen as more vehicles hit the road with AEB. Head of communications, Trevor Devitt, said its too early to tell what the flow on effect will be.
“At this stage Youi aren’t offering any discounts in this regard. Not at this stage but over time, maybe. We’re waiting to see what benefits arise. There are major benefits when it comes to crash safety, and the fact that AEB can completely avoid a crash could prove incredibly effective but it remains to be seen just how effective it’ll be,” Devitt said.
Youi take technology like AEB into consideration when it comes to figuring out what you’ll pay, but like most other insurers its under the umbrella of safety features, not a stand alone consideration.
Some of the current vehicles that will be recognised by NRMA Insurance include Mercedes-Benz S-Class and some GLA models as well as all new C-Class models, Subaru Forester, Liberty and Outback (premium spec only), Volkswagen Up! and Toureg V8, and all Volvo models except XC90.