Ah, the weather — the UK’s most beloved ice-breaker and small talk conversation starter. It’s Britain’s social soothing balm and according to one study, Britons will spend over four and a half months nattering about the ‘nippy weather we’re having’. However, with a reputation for unpredictability and rain — lots of it — Britain’s weather also has a significant impact on its roads and the driving conditions for millions of motorists. Data suggests that in 2017, over 13,500 accidents were due to either slippery road surfaces, or drivers travelling too fast for the weather conditions.*
Evidently, it’s a serious issue and weather is a factor that insurers must consider when underwriting policies, but what if there was a way to mitigate the risk? In the era of the Internet of Things, interconnectivity and AI, this is a possibility. In previous blogs, we’ve explored the impact of automotive technology
on the industry, discussing LiDAR sensors
and autonomous cars
, and in this blog, the discussion focuses on weather telematics.
How it works
Weather telematics is one of the latest technologies to emerge in today’s age of digital disruption, and the basic premise is a software that manages the impact of weather on connected and electric vehicles. Captalising on the availability of information, connected cars with the functionality can utilise an IoT sensor network and AI learning to generate historical, real-time and predictive road weather conditions. Drivers receive a single alert when road conditions ahead of the vehicle are predicted to be dangerous and require immediate driver intervention, such as changing route to avoid the flagged hazard.
The impact on insurers
Currently spearheaded by one company at the time of writing — Weather Telematics Inc. — it’s a tool which could have a significant impact on the automotive landscape in the very near future. Although many of today’s cars can detect adverse weather conditions, it’s usually not with enough warning for the driver to act — it’s the predictive element of weather telematics that sets it apart for existing technologies on the market.
The possible introduction of weather telematics as ‘de rigueur’ for connected cars is likely to have an impact on insurers’ risk assessments, calculations and potentially, on premiums for customers. If driving in difficult weather conditions can be made safer, it would be a win all round. However, as ever, the reliance on AI does throw up complications over liability and responsibility should accidents still occur. For the moment, it’s a question without an answer, but one thing is for certain — insurers must be willing to embrace flexibility and agility as the automotive landscape continue to shift at an unprecedented pace.