With the rapid development of the electric car market, insurers are facing unprecedented challenges.
Tesla has just announced – unsurprisingly – that its insurance division would take into account the data from its Safety Score to modulate its prices according to the quality of the drivers.
Nothing totally revolutionary – we’ve seen recently that this already exists with other insurers, including around here – but the information still made those who are particularly sensitive to privacy issues jump, so others see it as an opportunity to lower their insurance bill as a reward for particularly virtuous conduct. It remains to agree on the real and objective definition of “virtuous conduct” and on the ability of an algorithm to evaluate it…
Be that as it may, we can also feel the winds of change brought about by electromobility in the field of insurance. In fact, the latter has already been blowing on the backs of insurers’ necks for several years, without them really knowing in which direction it will turn. At the time of the first hybrids, we remember that some insurers offered very attractive rates to supposedly promote eco-driving and the transition to “green cars”, probably anticipating the fact that eco-driving would be synonymous with peaceful behavior and therefore more safety and fewer accidents. MAAF in particular had a particularly attractive offer a few years ago for Prius-type cars, around 300 euros per year for maximum all-risk coverage (provided you had a 50% bonus).
Then the electric market started to take off, and insurers felt the famous wind change: more expensive, sometimes more difficult to repair, and often more powerful (or in any case more lively), electric cars were not maybe not such a good deal, especially if you add Tesla into the equation, with its cars full of sensors and cameras, which many traditional bodybuilders refuse to touch (besides Tesla requires to go through an authorized bodybuilder, which often increases the bill for a simple smoothing).
If prices remain contained for the moment, since we can still insure in all risks a Model 3 Performance of more than 500 horses for less than 900 euros per year, nothing says that we will not witness a surge. in the next few years, when the market is mature.
Insurers facing unprecedented challenges
In fact, insurance companies have to face several new challenges, which concern not only cars, but also a new context created by electromobility. Thus it is now possible to “refuel” at home, which will probably not go without causing some private infrastructure problems. Quietly recharging on the household outlet in the garage (or in the kitchen by passing the cable through the window) while the electrical installation is not up to standard can hold a few surprises. We’ve also recently seen the questions of using a P17 socket for home charging. And we will not talk about cases – extremely rare but possible – of spontaneous combustion of batteries, which can cause serious damage, even reduce a home to ashes. So many scenarios that insurers will look into sooner or later to adjust their rates, especially if even firefighters are reluctant to intervene because of the particular problems posed by the fire of an electric car battery. Soon a clause prohibiting charging at night or when there is no one at home? This is already what we do in apartments with our VAE.
On the other hand, we know that autonomous driving is intimately linked to the development of electromobility, and with it the procession of questions – almost philosophical – on the attribution of responsibility in the event of an accident. Anyone who owns a car with Level 2 autonomous driving probably knows what I’m talking about, since they’ll likely have experienced the joys of 130 freeway ‘phantom braking’, or a denied lane change. , because the car’s sensors or cameras have seen an obstacle that does not exist. Eternal question: in the event of an accident caused by one of these behaviors over which even the most vigilant driver can have only a limited influence, who is responsible? At the time these lines are written, no one has really been able to decide. In other words, it will probably always be the fault of the driver, since precisely someone is responsible. It is then up to him to gather evidence and turn against the builder. Good luck.
So of course, equipped with autonomous or very widely assisted driving devices, it has already been shown that cars are much safer, since they are able to compensate for driver errors, and could reduce the number of accidents by up to 82%. accident. But it is not certain that this new situation will bring down the price of insurance premiums, because there will always be arguments in favor of maintaining premiums at the current level, such as the price of parts, the complexity of handling certain elements, and even the potential danger represented by working on a vehicle electrified at 400 or even 800 volts.
Another source of questions is the fact that cars – and more particularly electric ones – are full of electronics, and most often connected. But whoever says connection to a network says potential flaws conducive to all forms of hacking and intrusion, with all the security problems that entails. What about the consideration of this data in the coverage of a vehicle? Conversely, current cars will probably become increasingly difficult to steal, for the same reasons (see Tesla’s formidable Sentinel mode), which should lead to a drop in the premium at least for this item.
So many elements which indicate that, according to the established formula, insurance will have to reinvent itself to adapt to the new situation of mass electromobility. They have already done so for soft and urban mobility (special insurance for scooters, for example), they will do so, or already do so, for the insurance of electric cars.
Insurers are like nature: they abhor a vacuum. Legal and tariff.
> Find Citronium, my weekly newsletter on tech and innovation