Smart Cars May Not Equate to Fewer Insurance Claims


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No matter how smart our cars get, the insurance industry knows that not-so-smart drivers will continue to get into auto accidents.  Safety metrics designed to keep drivers safer, such as ‘smart cars’, do not necessarily drive down claims, explains

In days past, a ding in a metal bumper could be fixed for little or no cost with a well applied mallet.  

Sensors in today’s cars likely reduce the severity of that accident, but incur their own costs when the sensors need to be repaired or replaced.  “In theory, over the next 10 years or so, these increasing capabilities of the car to avoid accidents should eventually start to drive down incidents, but we’re still in the early stages of that,” said Drew Aldrich, a principal at venture capital group, American Family Ventures.

The edge computing principles employed by the auto industry keep the response time low by allowing the car to react quickly without routing information through an outside processing source.  Aldrich elaborated, saying, “As the sensors in the cars become increasingly important to making decisions or actions in the car – nudging the car from swerving into lanes or accident avoidance – the actual compute has to be done in the car itself. It can’t be sent to the cloud for the compute to be held there and then sent back – the feed just doesn’t require it – so that’s causing lots of really interesting things in the world of edge computing, where the actual computer doing all of the compute work is happening in the vehicle itself.”  

Insurance companies are bridging the gap between humans and electronic data with features like Allstate’s “Drivewise” or Progessive’s “Snapshot.” Drivers voluntarily participate by either running a smartphone app or plugging a device into the car itself.  The programs track certain features like car speed and late night driving and offer discounts or rewards when results indicated good driving habits have been achieved. Self-driving cars would render these mechanisms obsolete.

(ed: April, BTW, is “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”)

March 13, 2019

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