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Volvo to seek bigger insurance break

Stop it: Volvo Car Australia would like insurance companies to give owners using City Safety a bigger break on their insurance premiums.

Updates to City Safety should save owners on insurance costs, Volvo says

Volvo logo30 Aug 2013

VOLVO will ask insurers to give its buyers even more of a discount on their premiums as the Swedish car-maker’s latest suite of crash-avoidance technology reaches showrooms.

Almost 11,000 Volvo-badged cars that feature automatic braking to prevent a low-speed collision – the most common cause of insurance claims – are now driving around on Australian roads since the technology was introduced on the XC60 SUV in 2008.

However, instead of minimising or completely avoiding a crash at speeds of up to 30km/h, Volvo’s latest generation of the technology will work at speeds up to 50km/h, meaning the V40 five-door hatchback and its V40 Cross Country SUV-style sibling have even more chance of avoiding a fender bender.

The better crash-avoidance technology will roll out in other Volvo vehicles as the cars are updated.

Volvo Car Australia managing director Matt Braid said the car-maker would start asking insurance groups to slice even more off owners’ premiums if automated braking made further inroads into reducing the number of insurance claims.

“We certainly encourage insurance companies to reassess the vehicles (the V40 and V40 Cross Country) with any new technologies we have,” Mr Braid said.

“There will be discussions, but again, (weighing up if the Volvo cars can gain further premium discounts) is through their investigations.

“Given what we’ve seen with City Safety and insurance companies, we expect it to be a positive outcome as the system keeps developing.”

The US-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety updated an earlier study it had done on the roll-out of Volvo’s City Safety technology late last year.

While the IIHS revised down its initial estimate of how much of an impact the technology was having on minimising or avoiding real-world crashes, it was still significant.

“An earlier study reported that Volvo XC60s fitted with City Safety, a low-speed collision avoidance technology, had lower than expected loss frequencies for property damage liability (-27 percent), bodily injury liability (-51 percent) and collision (-22 percent),” the IIHS study found.

“Updated results for the XC60 as well as initial results for the Volvo S60 confirm that City Safety is reducing losses substantially, although the effects are somewhat smaller than in the initial XC60 report.

“In the new study, property damage liability loss frequency was estimated to be 15 percent lower than relevant control vehicles for the XC60 and 16 percent lower for the S60.

“Collision frequencies were reduced by an estimated 20 percent for the XC60 and 9 percent for the S60.

“Both vehicles also showed reductions in collision claim severity and reductions in overall losses for collision and property damage liability.

“Under bodily injury liability, frequency was 33 percent lower for the XC60 and 18 percent lower for the S60,” it said.

Meanwhile Swedish car insurance company Folksam said a 2012 study of City Safety’s effect on claims showed the technology cut injuries by 64 percent on roads with a 50 km/h speed limit.

In situations where City Safety had activated but a crash was not been completely avoided, injuries were reduced by about 40 percent.

Reuben Aitchison, the corporate affairs manager for car insurance giant Suncorp, said it still was not possible to see what impact the crash-avoiding technology was having on claims.

“It’s very interesting and promising technology, but the short answer is it is a little too soon to really understand the effect of it,” Mr Aitchison said.

“We are still assessing evidence and experience both locally and overseas, but we would expect this technology to reduce claims costs over time and thus reduce premiums.”

Volvo says it is working on improving its City Safety system, including shaping it to work in poor visibility and low-light situations.

A complete makeover of the XC90 SUV due next year will expand the technology to cover every passenger vehicle sold wearing the Volvo badge.

The latest generation of the technology has expanded to recognise when a cyclist veers unexpectedly in front of the car, and automatically apply the brakes.

Volvo is expected to release future generations of City Safety that have expanded to include the ability to recognise animals that commonly stray onto the road.

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