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Clean cars pose new problems for insurers

Hybrid and electric cars, loaded with technology, energy saving devices and environment-friendly to boot, are all the rage. Nevertheless, with their high repair costs and new risks, they pose new challenges for insurers.  

 Clean cars pose new problems for insurers

France leads the pack for the number of electric cars registered with 15,068 new cars on the road in the first  half of 2016 (+ 49%). *

Insurers jump on the bandwagon of clean cars

Insurers are supporting the trend with policies at preferential rates. Crédit Agricole Assurances, via Pacifica, was one of the first to offer a 5% reduction on the annual premium for those owning a vehicle with a CO2 emission of less than 140 g per kilometre. What’s more, the deductible is waived for the first claim guaranteed for hybrid or electric vehicles.

Axa, the MAAF and the MAIF are also offering advantages either on subscriptions or for the financing of the vehicle.

Visibility with respect to risks is still foggy

Insurers, however, have scanty data with respect to the claims statistics for these so-called “clean” cars. As far as the drivers are concerned, the picture is more positive. Those buying hybrids are on average older and the majority of them belong to affluent socio-professional categories, in other words a clientele with a better claims record. 

The actual cost of the vehicles and of their eventual repairs is, however, generally higher than for a conventional car. The better overall reliability of clean cars comes at the cost of more expensive spare parts. 

There are other specific factors which also present new risk factors. Electric cars are silent and can catch pedestrians crossing the street unawares.

Will tomorrow’s car really be safer?

Car manufacturers have made enormous progress in active and passive safety. Among the latest devices designed to reduce the dangers of driving, the most innovative are designed to help the driver: alarms for sudden lane changing or drowsiness, automatic regulation of the distance to be kept from other cars, etc. 

In the United States, Google is testing the driverless car which, within the next few years, should be able to handle an entire trip without any human intervention. Tesla Motors is already offering powerful electric saloon cars capable of handling trajectories and cruising speed, while recommending that the driver keep his hands on the wheel. 

That function nonetheless cost the life of an American driver in an accident with a truck. Over and beyond accidents, there nonetheless looms the crucial question for insurers: in the event of an accident involving a driverless car who will be responsible? The driver, the manufacturer or both?

*Source: AVERE France – National Association for the Development of Electric Mobility

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