ILC ARTICLE

Is mobility moving with the times?


Driven by technology and customer behaviour, mobility was evolving rapidly before Covid-19 struck – but has the pandemic curbed or quickened the trends, and how will the sector be changed in the short, medium and long term?

These were the questions posed during an exclusive online roundtable event hosted by I Love Claims in partnership with Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

The event invited 25 key players in the sector to join in the debate with panellists Greg Cole, UK claims director, Aioi Nissay Dowa; Dean Lander, head of repair sector services, Thatcham Research; Richard Price, aftersales director, BMW UK; and Stuart Sandell, assistant vice president – sales – UK and Ireland, Enterprise Holdings.

They discussed the implications of electric vehicles, the impact of connectivity on claims, and how convenience and choice must be the bedrock of mobility as a service.

Short term:

But before looking at where mobility is going, it’s worth considering where it has come from.

Even before Covid-19 there were substantial shifts taking place around modes and models of transport, with car clubs, ride sharing and multi-modal solutions becoming ever-more popular. The pandemic brought some of that to a shuddering halt, with demand for public transport and multi-occupancy vehicles immediately plummeting.

However, restrictions continue to lift and people have begun moving around again, but it seems their habits have changed.

For one thing, the busy periods on our roads have moved from the start of the week (traditional rush-hour traffic) to the end of the week (Friday to Sunday) as more people now are driving for social rather than work reasons.

With the government this week proposing legislation to support working from home, this change could be here to stay.

However, not everyone is so sure, with some suggesting that while it is convenient for many employees and still novel for some, the desire for social engagement may lure people back to the office. Further, some employers might prefer a hybrid solution to protect the sort of innovation that only comes from interaction.

‘You can’t schedule a good idea for a Zoom call.’

Technology

Another area of rapid change has been technology and the inevitable challenges of vehicle repair. Although traffic slowed down for a year, innovation did not and coupled with the surge in demand for electric vehicles, bodyshops could be emerging from the various lockdowns to find themselves further behind the curve than ever.

This has possibly been exacerbated by the dramatic drop in claims volumes during the Covid-19 peak, meaning many repairers returning to work have faced a sudden exposure to new technology rather than a more gradual period of acclimatisation. When it comes to EVs, this lack of skills could be potentially tragic.

‘There are half a million EVs on the road and that number is growing astronomically month on month, it’s a real live challenge for the industry to deal with because there is not enough skilled people, and not enough knowledge in non-skilled people about how to stay safe around EVs – and you only need one EV in the workshop to face this danger.’

Medium term:

Looking further ahead, the single biggest issue seems to be around connectivity – and the data implications that come with it.

In many ways it could be argued that connectivity is already here, but its’ depth and penetration is minimal compared to where it will be in the near future, with vehicles talking to other vehicles, talking to road infrastructure, talking to the supply chain, talking to appliances in customer homes etc.

If applied correctly the benefits could be immense, but first the industry will need to win the public relations war with the customer. People are instinctively protective of their personal data and already there is evidence of younger drivers rebelling against ‘Big Brother’ by ditching their telematics devices as soon as the reductions on premiums diminish.

However, as Facebook has proven, customers are more willing to share many things if they believe what they are getting back is of greater value.

Insurers face the first challenge in devising flexible policies that offer immediate returns on data sharing. Usage-based insurance is one solution and the popularity of By Miles underscores the demand for this, while Toyota has now launched a new product for hybrid drivers in Italy, whose premiums reflect how many miles are driven in electric mode.

But the benefits to drivers must go much further to create an attractive value exchange – specific to the sector that will likely include cost savings delivered by automatic service notifications; reduced repair times due to correct triaging; and safety benefits brought about by the car calling the emergency services when the driver is unable to.

‘Customers can just switch to private mode, and what is to stop them doing that if they don’t understand the benefits of sharing their data? We need to take them with us and show that having this data doesn’t just benefit the supply chain.’

Long term:

If the medium term is about connectivity, the long-term destination is convenience. In the past the customer would invest time to save money, now they are more likely to invest money to save time and that is where mobility as a service needs to be.

This means delivering multi-modal transport solutions on a single platform with a single ticketing process and insurance imbedded. But this goes back to connectivity, because if the customer keeps hold of their data it will be almost impossible for insurers to accurately underwrite their journey – how will liability be apportioned if it is unclear whether it was the person or the product at fault?

But despite challenges, these ‘mobility ecosystems’ are already starting to emerge. A transport hub has been established in Greenwich with shared services and a range of mobility options, while a new app available to customers in the Scottish Highlands has been launched providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for everything from public transportation to vehicle hire. Enterprise Rent-A-Car are involved in both projects.

It’s clear that this is the future, with vehicle manufacturers already remodelling themselves as mobility providers rather than just car makers.

This is not to suggest that car ownership will fade out completely, but tomorrow’s customer might be less likely to say they have a car, and more likely to say they have access to a car – and other mobility services, too.

On Wednesday 30th June at 1.30pm, the ARC360 on demand ‘Mobility Special’ will lift the lid on the changing landscape for mobility – from modern technologies and human behaviours, to connectivity and future concepts – exploring just what it all means to those involved in the insurance claims sector. Register to watch live or on demand here

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