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BMW develops new insurance rating for semi-autonomous cars

German car maker and insurance company Swiss Re devise algorithm that takes advanced safety features into account

BMW has teamed up with insurance company Swiss Re to devise a new type of insurance rating that properly takes advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like lane keeping assistance, into consideration.

The system assesses individual vehicles on a case-by-case basis, taking the “integration of safety-relevant driver assistance systems into account.” This, BMW and Swiss Re say, allows premiums to be calculated more accurately.

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The new system comprises an algorithm “that is capable of representing the complex effects of driver assistance systems on the safety of BMW vehicles as a score.” This is necessary because “On the road to autonomous driving, more and more safety-relevant driver assistance systems are finding their way into BMW Group vehicles.”

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Matthew Avery, director of research at car safety experts Thatcham Research, explained insurance companies want to see what effect ADAS like lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control have on safety. “Insurers want to see which pieces of safety technology are delivering results and preventing accidents, and which are not”

Avery added that as cars become more and more capable of driving themselves in certain conditions, new considerations need to be made. “With Level 3 autonomous cars, a risk of confusion arises – does the car or the driver have control? There is a risk of increased crashes if people over-rely on the technology.”

The end goal for insurance companies, Avery explained, “is to price insurance much more accurately.” He continued, “The key to this is data. At the moment, insurers look at aggregated data. This new system will allow insurance companies to look at individual crashes.”

Another reason for car makers taking an increased interest in insurance is the move towards subscription sales plans, like those set to be offered by newcomer Lynk & Co. Some manufacturers also bundle insurance into a PCP package – as Peugeot does with Just Add Fuel.

Commenting on his company’s new system, Thomas Wittig, head of BMW Group financial services, said: “We have developed a solution, together with Swiss Re, that will enable primary insurers to calculate premiums based on an individual assessment of a vehicle’s technical features”. Wittig added that customers could see a reduction in insurance premiums as a result of the algorithm.

Would you opt for more autonomous technology if you saved money on your insurance? Let us know below...

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