August 10, 2016
Connected Vehicles Can Improve Claims
So-called V2V and V2I technology records images and data, allowing an accident scene to be faithfully recreated.
Personal auto insurers have traditionally been more reactive than proactive in a slowly changing industry. However, that approach may no longer be adequate as vehicle technology accelerates at a pace the insurance industry is unaccustomed to embracing.
To date, the focus of personal auto insurers has been on the underwriting impact of driver-assisted technologies that can self-park, maintain their lane and even force the vehicle to stop to avoid collisions. Insurers are continually fine-tuning their underwriting algorithms to align with such decreasing risks. However, insurers need to broaden their scope and move beyond tweaking rates. Let’s face the truth: Automobile claim processing relies on antiquated theories and techniques that are costly and inefficient and can produce faulty outcomes.
See also: Telematics: Because Accidents Happen
Up until the 1980s, adjusters actually went out to the accident location to canvass the scene, interview witnesses, measure skid marks and look for obstructions to vision — all for the purpose of making a sound and well-researched liability decision. To cut costs, insurers eliminated scene investigations and relied almost solely on driver statements and physical damage to determine liability. The process works fine in a clear liability situation like when a stopped vehicle is rear-ended. But it doesn’t work so well in a multiple-car pile-up or an accident at an intersection. How often do we hear from the driver statements like, “He came out of nowhere,” or, “I thought I had the green light,” or, simply, “I don’t remember”? These same individuals have a vested interest in being found free of fault, in fear of adding points to their driving record and seeing increased rates. How do we expect desk-bound adjusters to make the right decision with facts and circumstances such as these? Liability adjusters futilely spend an inordinate amount of time searching for clues, hoping to uncover the truth when faced with conflicting stories or facts.
Today, there are cameras everywhere and telematics available on almost every vehicle. The University of Michigan’s MCity is testing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications that will soon be prevalent in our environment. Just as autonomous vehicles are using these cameras and sensors to alter the vehicle’s behavior, the V2V/V2I images and data can record the facts associated with the accident. This data can be consolidated to confirm and recreate the scene leading up to an accident.
Information that adjusters rely upon will suddenly become objective, rather than subjective or tainted by guesstimates. For example, in an accident where a pedestrian darts out from between parked cars and is hit by a moving vehicle, the data will answer many questions. (How fast were you traveling? At what point did you apply the brakes? Did you try to swerve to avoid him? Were any vehicles or vegetation blocking your vision?) Without a witness, this type of accident is difficult to assess today, and the task is even harder to assess when the pedestrian is a child. Utilizing V2V and V2I data to validate the accident facts can make the process much less painful and much more equitable for all involved, especially for anguished parents who may not have seen their child dart into the street.
While not everyone wants to share their day-to-day driving data with their insurers, insurers could offer customer discounts or deductible waivers for sharing the last several minutes of data leading up to the impact. This may be more palatable to many conscientious consumers, who see this option as effectively protecting them from the potential of being falsely accused of liability.
Data is ubiquitous, waiting to be harvested and used to improve liability decision making. It’s time for insurers to initiate interactions with auto manufacturers and transportation infrastructure suppliers to create industry standards for sharing V2V, V2I and telematics data that can result in dramatic, positive changes in how claims are handled and negligence is determined. Insurers all want to make accurate liability decisions and consumers deserve a fair outcome. We finally have the tools available to ensure just that.