Friday 20 April 2018

Why it's time insurers lowered premiums as cars become safer

* Advances in technology significantly reduce risk of accident, yet insurance remains stubbornly high

Should safer cars get recognition?
Should safer cars get recognition?
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

MOST weeks in these pages we report, or comment, on some important new safety advances and developments.

Technology is absolutely revolutionising the rate of improvement in safety - from a vehicle and driver perspective.

Indeed when reviewing some cars now, I often overlook items that are standard because we have come to take them for granted.

A few years ago they were the revolutionary, pioneering safety breakthroughs of the future. Now they are glibly alluded to at best; ignored at worst.

For example, no one ever mentions ABS any more do they? And we pass few remarks on the plethora of airbags quietly stashed to protect virtually every part of the body should the worst come to the worst.

To be frank sometimes we even have to skim over lots of newer technologies at international car launches because they are already in rival motors.

Cars were never as safe. They not alone protect us, they increasingly anticipate potential risks and accidents and take steps, if we don't, to avert, avoid or lessen the impact.

There are systems that take control of the car if you lose it, systems to help keep you from dozing off, from straying into another lane, from ploughing into the back of the car in front... the list goes on.

Equally there are systems that automatically tighten your seat belts if they sense an impact. And there are devices that allow parents to set upper speed limits when their young drivers take the car for an evening or a night.

Increasingly we can talk to and tell our cars what to do without taking our eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.

I won't go on. The evidence of progress is overwhelming. And it is likely to become even more so as technology accelerates improvement.

All of this is leading to one simple question: If cars are safer why are insurance premiums on such a steep rise in many cases?

Drivers haven't dis-improved that drastically and while there was a deeply-regretted rise in the number of deaths on roads in 2014, the overall trend has been downward for some years.

The core question here is: are insurance companies taking a car's safety into account?

Does it matter to your premium if you have Lane Departure Warning, for example?

Does it affect how much you pay if your car has a system that will greatly reduce the chance of a rear-end shunt?

Equally will it make a difference if your car has none of these elements? In your house, in contrast, you get a reduction if you have an alarm system. Surely a vehicle with more accident avoidance systems built in, represents a far safer prospect than one without?

Don't forget either that every safety item indirectly attracts VAT and Vehicle Registration levies because they inflate the overall price of the car.

Is it not time for those who pay more for safer cars to get some recognition and reward?

Let us know what you think:

Irish Independent

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