Ageas’ Marlow: AVs Would Decrease Vehicle Ownership

Ageas’ Marlow: AVs Would Decrease Vehicle Ownership

Greg Hyde talks to Tim Marlow of insurance giant Ageas about development of autonomous vehicles and insurance of their occupants.

While AVs are currently a work-in-progress for most of their developers, they will not always be thus. However, the idea that people without drivers’ licenses will one day be able to buy them and own them remains open to question. In an exclusive TU-Automotive interview, Greg Hyde spoke to Tim Marlow, Ageas’ head of AV research, about development of the vehicles and the likely effect on their occupants’ insurance premiums that will result. He expressed the view that development of fully (Level 5) autonomous vehicles would probably cause private vehicle ownership to fall if it were to happen.



Q: If and when Level 5 AVs ever become commercially available, do you think this will make drivers’ insurance premiums higher than, lower than, or the same as they are now?

“If we have Level 5 vehicles capable of operating anywhere, it’s less likely that individuals will own the vehicles, probably preferring simply to book a ride in one from a mobility services provider each time they need to make a journey. The vehicles will still need to be insured by their operators however and, because they are likely to have significantly fewer accidents, the premiums are likely to be significantly lower than for manually driven taxis today.”

Q: Do you think Level 5 AVs would accrue lower levels of accidents than human-driven cars and if so, do you think they would have the potential to lower insurance costs for the under-25s?

“Currently the majority of the factors that determine insurance premiums are related to the driver and the driver’s age is one of the most important of these but as vehicles become more automated, it will be the functionality and capability of the vehicle that become the most important factors. On this basis, it’s very likely that an under-25 driving an automated vehicle will pay a significantly lower premium however it may be some time before this has significant effect, simply on the basis that few under-25s currently purchase or lease a brand new vehicle.”

Q: Do you think the UK government needs to do more to keep the general public well informed of what stage development of AVs and ADAS technology is at?

“I think the government has done a reasonably good job in keeping the public informed through its promotion of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act but the insurance industry through Thatcham Research has also done an excellent job in making the public aware of what systems are out there and what they’re capable of.”

“One area that does need to be addressed is the multiplicity of different brand names used by different manufacturers for driver assistance systems. Although there can be differences between these systems, it would be much easier for the public if all autonomous emergency braking systems were referred to as such, as happened with electronic stability control (ESC) and anti-lock braking system (ABS) when they became compulsory fitment.”

Q: How do you feel the connected vehicle and AV sectors will progress technologically over the next two to three years?

“2021 will be a key date, as it’s when the UK government believes AVs will be on the road for the first time. It is key that we are able to identify AVs at [an] individual level, i.e. the fact that a vehicle qualifies as automated needs to be logged on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database and therefore noted on the vehicle’s registration document. Insurers will then be able to use this information to ensure the vehicle has the correct cover under the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act.”

“Over the next three years we will see AVs appear in a number of forms, including automated valet parking which will enable the user to get out of the car in a car park and the vehicle will park itself, and systems that will enable the vehicle to take on the entire driving task on motorways from the point of joining to the point of exit. In addition, we will see a number of companies, including FiveAI and Addison Lee in the UK, complete trials and begin to offer commercial ‘robo-taxi’ services within restricted urban areas.”





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