How will autonomous emergency braking affect fleet insurance?

18 May 2017

Fitted autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is a safety technology developed to recognise and respond to changing traffic conditions; it is an automatic braking system that will engage to avoid or mitigate an accident if the driver fails to respond to an emergency situation.

AEB systems utilise lidar, radar and/or camera technology to identify potential collision risks based on a vehicle’s speed and trajectory. If a possible collision is detected, AEB systems will respond by warning the driver before applying the brakes, if no action is taken. Indeed the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) made it a regulatory requirement for newly registered UK heavy goods vehicles (over 7.5 tonnes) in November 2015.

This and similar technology is forecast to increasingly filter down to light commercial vehicles and private cars, which is expected to lead to a reduction in rear-end shunt type accidents over the coming years.

According to data published by Thatcham Research in 2016, standard-fit AEB systems are installed on nearly 21 per cent of new cars, whilst a further 27 per cent of vehicles offer AEB as an optional extra.

Thatcham has suggested that the widespread adoption of AEB systems could prevent as many as 122,860 incidents in the UK over the next decade.

What does this mean for fleet insurance?

The construction industry fleets covered by JLT share one key claim characteristic: most insured claims, in terms of both number and value, are the result of damage caused by our insured drivers hitting the third party in the rear. 

Rear-end collisions potentially lead to both third party property damage and third party injury - particularly whiplash. Insured claims from rear accidents annually run into hundreds of thousands of pounds for the larger fleets (in addition to the hidden costs from motor accidents which may run into multiples of the insured cost).

The resulting claims experience is the main piece of information used by underwriters to calculate renewal premiums, so any material improvement in the claims experience could reduce future renewal premiums.

A 2015 study by the European new car assessment programme (NCAP) and Australasian NCAP found that AEB can reduce rear-end crashes by up to 38 per cent.

Therefore, rather than wait for legislation to make this type of technology compulsory in all vehicles, we recommend fleet managers look to positively promote this type of technology now.  Although AEB technology cannot be retrofitted, it is offered as an optional add-on in new vehicles at an average cost of £1,300 by many manufacturers. Fleet managers may consider subsidising cars with AEB technology and thereby making AEB enabled cars more affordable/within the pay grade of employees choosing their new company car.

Please contact us to benchmark your construction fleet’s claims experience, we can also cost the amount of claims within the hit-in-rear cause type, to assess what level of self-subsidy may be appropriate for your fleet.

For more information, please contact Peter Tuck, Account Executive on +44 20 7558 3466 or email peter_tuck@jltgroup.com