17 Nov 22

“Accidents are an iceberg of cost”

”Fleets, don’t think of insurance as something mandatory that only costs money, as just another tax. Insurance can help fleets improve their safety record, and reduce cost.” One of the speakers at the Fleet Europe Conference sessions dedicated to insurance and safety, Thursday afternoon at the Fleet Europe Conference, hit the nail on the head. 

Because for many fleets, safety is not top of mind. “Understandable. The more safety measures you put in a car, the more expensive the car gets”, said Stephan Ruby (Global Strategic Partnerships and Chief Sales Officer Automotive at Allianz, pictured right). 

Comfy Chesterfield

In a first of several talks centered on a comfy-looking Chesterfield sofa, he and Guillaume Roux (Head of Automotive and Mobility at Qover, pictured middle) talked with moderator Steven Schoefs (Editor in Chief of Fleet Europe, pictured left) about how fleets can embed the safety experience in their strategies. 

It is time the insurance/safety issue is elevated to a higher level, Mr Ruby said. “We need to have a dialogue with all parties involved, because everyone can benefit. Fleet managers can get lower premiums. OEMs can push ADAS. And we insurers will have to deal with fewer claims. But we’re not yet doing that.”

Also an item on that agenda: ADAS can provide a false sense of security, said Mr Roux. “these safety systems provide a certain level of comfort and convenience. Take for example lane-keeping. But this may cause some drivers to lower their attention. And that can in turn increase the risk.”

Going down, going up

Another interesting factoid: “The frequency of claims is going down. Which is good. But what’s bad is that the severity of the claims is going up. Not in terms of physical damage, but due to the cost of parts – newer models, and EVs especially, are more expensive to repair.”

Another hot, although as yet still fairly distant topic: What about insuring autonomous vehicles? “We still have some years”, said Mr Roux. “But I see a potential revolution. When cars are autonomous, our current customers will no longer own the vehicles. They will be organized in fleets – so fleets will grow.”

But who will be liable? “As I see it, the manufacturers will carry the liability, and no longer the driver”, said Mr Ruby. “But that is my personal opinion”, he hastened to add. 

So, for those fleet managers awake to the potential benefits of a well-devised insurance programme: How should they build one? “It’s a double challenge, because the different legal situation per country imposes a burden, as does the legacy IT infrastructure that each fleet works with,” said Mr Roux. “Those two things make it really hard to build a truly global, truly digital insurance programme – and this in a world where everything tends towards the digital and the global.”

Safety as a steppingstone

At Allianz, they’re working on a holistic approach, co-creating services with their customers to help them hit their targets. Via gamification, for instance. Qover’s suggestion: a modular approach, making it easier to integrate what is required with what’s already there, both in terms of policies and IT systems. 

Following the sit-down discussion was a stand-up thought leadership presentation by Jonathan Bates (Executive Vice President of Marketing at MiX Telematics). His point: safety, of course a worthy goal in and of itself, can be the steppingstone towards increasing sustainability and efficiency. 

Sometimes, the overlapping gains are self-evident. “Cutting down on idling benefits both your sustainability and efficiency goals.” Others only show up after careful data analysis. “We’ve seen that drivers who switch between EVs and ICEs in a single shift mix their driving styles, which can lead to driving patterns that increase risk.”

Detailed checklist

However, identifying gains in safety, efficiency and sustainability is only half the solution, Mr Bates pointed out. “You can’t improve your results if you don’t change people’s behaviour. And to do that, you need to do three things: create a vision people can buy into, appeal to the values they already have, and start with small changes.”

Julie Meynard (Director of Arval Consulting & Arval Mobility Observatory) spoke about the benefits of connected ensurance as way to promote driving patterns that are both sustainable and safe. She likened accidents to an “iceberg of cost”: not just the terrible cost in terms of human tragedy, but also: time lost, equipment damaged, efficiency decreased, and productivity declined. 

That’s why “as an employer, you have to ask yourself: Have I done everything in order to prevent accidents?” She presented a detailed checklist, from car policy all the way to crash data management. And a solution with great potential: connected insurance – you lease an insured vehicle, and subscribe to an assorted telematics offer, which among other things can score your drivers, helping you to improve their driving behaviour. In short: “Fleets and companies have to make road safety part of their big picture.”

Reactive to predictive

Closing the segment on safety was a session featuring Damian Penney (VP EMEA for Lytx), who had brought two experts in the field to take place in the Chesterfield: Doug Jenkins (Specialist Business Resilience Management at Axa), and Daniel McGuigan (Environment, Health and Safety Director for PepsiCo’s global operations). 

“Our mission at Lytx is to save lives on the road, and our goal is to ensure that no commercial driver is at fault in road accidents,” said Mr Penney. “To get there, the fleet industry must move from a reactive approach towards safety to proactive one, or even a predictive one.”

Messrs Jenkins and McGuigan are no strangers to each other, precisely because they’ve gone on that journey together. “When I started at PepsiCo in 2016, we did not have a strong relationship with Axa. So I used the annual renewal for us to understand each other better. It’s a relationship that benefits both, and that has helped us reduce our loss ratio.”

Image: Benjamin Brolet

Authored by: Frank Jacobs