The UK-based insurance company Direct Line — the largest UK-based motor insurer, that is — has begun offering Tesla owners a 5% discount if they get Tesla’s Autopilot technology.
The idea behind the incentive is to cut down on accident rates. Though, Direct Line representatives have noted that it’s not actually clear yet whether or not Tesla’s Autopilot system produced a safety record that could justify notably lower insurance premiums. (Tesla has noted in the past that Autopilot improves safety and reduces accident rates, especially when it comes to severe accidents.)
In other words, part of the idea behind the discount offer is to increase Tesla Autopilot usage amongst customers and thus gain further data points with which the insurance company can determine whether it makes sense to offer lower premiums to users of such systems.
“At present the driver is firmly in charge so it’s just like insuring other cars, but it does offer Direct Line a great opportunity to learn and prepare for the future,” explained Dan Freedman, Head of Motor Development at Direct Line.
Of course, Tesla Autopilot has several semi-autonomous driving features, including:
◊ Adaptive Cruise Control
◊ Auto Lane Change
◊ Autopark (aka Summon)
Reuters provides more: “Direct Line sells insurance policies to customers introduced to it by Tesla. Tesla then provides information on the features and capabilities of its vehicles to help Direct Line set insurance prices.”
A Financial Analyst at GlobalData, Daniel Pearce, commented on the news: “Crash rates across all Tesla models have fallen by 40% since the introduction of the Autopilot system. … However, when owners seek to insure their Tesla vehicles, this is not reflected in the pricing of premiums.” He added: “The insurance industry will gradually respond to these developments.”
While the use of Autopilot will provide a discount, pricing is still varied in relation to driving history, age, claim history, etc.
Dan Freedman continued: “We aim to offer competitive premiums and we’ve welcomed a good number of Tesla drivers in the UK.”
It’ll be interesting to see how many Tesla owners in the UK end up signing up for the discount and what sorts of conclusions Direct Line comes to based on the data it gathers.