The great promiseof autonomous vehicles , aside from saving you from the tyranny of commuting, is their ability to save lives by replacing stupid humans with intelligent computers. But these cars, at least in the short-term, could make driving riskier because people don't yet understand the technology or just how it works.
British auto insurance companies call this "autonomous ambiguity," and it is not an abstract issue. Automakers like Audi, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Volvo already or will very soon offer vehicles that do some of the driving for you. In a new white paper, the Association of British Insurers argues that drivers don’t understand the limitations of these semi-autonomous systems, and believe their car is more capable than it really is.
“This risk of autonomous ambiguity could result in a short term increase in crashes,” said Peter Shaw, CEO of Thatcham Research which collaborated on the report.
As magical as it may seem to sit in a luxury sedan as it zips down the highway without any assistance from you, these semi-autonomous systems remain somewhat basic. They combine adaptive cruise control to main a safe following distance and automatic lane keeping to keep the car within its lane. Such systems typically require clearly delineated lane lines, reasonably good weather, and, most crucially, driver attention in case something goes awry.
Dire warning aside, the British insurers “strongly support” vehicle automation, arguing that artificial intelligence will reduce accidents and save lives. Some 40,000 people died on US roads last year, and the figure is rising .
But the technology's early days worry the researchers. Systems differ, as do their capabilities. Automakers have varying ideas on how best to implement the technology, and because there are no standards, drivers can't be sure how a particular system works. And it's not like automakers are in a rush to explain what these semi-autonomous systems can't do—their flashy adverts typically highlight how clever they are.
With that in mind, the Association of British Insurers suggests a simple, two-stage, classification for cars—assisted or automated—and says international regulators should get on board. Under its proposal, an "automated" car is capable of driving itself in virtually all situations, come to a stop safely if it cannot drive itself, avoid every conceivable crash, and continue working even if something in the system fails.
Few people expect the automotive industry to reach that level of autonomy at a large scale for at least another decade. And that means just about every vehicle with any kind of autonomous tech will be labeled "assisted." That may seem like a small distinction, but the idea is to remind drivers that the car is not fully in control.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US agrees about the looming problem, but says terminology isn’t going to fix it. The automakers must find ways of ensuring that drivers understand they must be alert and ready to take the wheel. “They need to make sure the technology keeps the drivers engaged,” says IIHS President, Adrian Lund. “Just putting it in the owner’s manual won’t work.”
Automakers are taking heed. After Joshua Brown died when his Model S sliced under a truck that turned across his path in Florida in May 2016, Tesla modified its AutoPilot system with increased visual and auditory cues when drivers take their hands off the wheel for too long. Mercedes-Benz offers a similar trick with its Drive Pilot, although it can be confusing to use .
Cadillac takes things a step further with its Super Cruise , which the automaker calls the first truly hands-off semi-autonomous system. It monitors drivers using a camera behind the steering wheel to ensure they're looking up at the road, not down at their phone. It also engages only on divided highways.
The day is coming when your car is a better driver than you are. But until that day, consumers must remember that semi-autonomous vehicles are not infallible. Anything that automakers–and regulators—can do to remind them of that will only make everyone safer.
The National Broadband
Network (NBN) is currently being rolled out throughout Australia with a
progressive implementation planned. The NBN utilises a range of technologies
for broadband communication and for the majority of Australia, a fixed line
connection operating over the existing copper network, in conjunction with new
fibre optic technology, will be used. NBN is the wholesaler of this new network
- once available you will have a choice of phone and internet
providers known as Retail Service Providers (RSPs) to select a plan that meets
What changes with the introduction of the NBN?
The NBN changes communications technology to a digital data platform and this will impact upon devices currently used on the copper network, such as telephone landlines, monitored security alarm systems, monitored medical alarms, and lift emergency phones. Changes to the current copper line technology mean such devices may not be compatible with the NBN.
What does this mean for you?
The NBN may have an adverse impact upon existing devices within your home. In particular, devices used for monitoring of security alarms, lifts and medical alarms may require updating to ensure they will function when required in an emergency.
What do you need to do?
For monitored security alarms:
For lift emergency phone lines and monitored medical alarms:
Buying a car is an exciting and often frustrating experience. Aside from the usual questions about fuel efficiency, blue tooth connectivity and whether red really does make it go is faster, we need to worry about how safe the car is. Well here are nine things
1. Anti-lock brakes
Anti-lock brakes (ABS) do more than just stop a wheel from locking. They also control traction control by applying the brakes (and/or adjusting engine speed) when they detect wheel spin.
2. Stability control
This system can prevent drivers from losing control of their car when swerving unexpectedly. It’s also compulsory in all vehicles and is more commonly known as ESP, but also as DSC, DTSC, ESC, ESP+, VDC, VSA and VSC.
3. Electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)
Another bit of technology to help you stop, EBD eases brake force if the grip is different at each wheel, helping to stop the car in a straight line.
4. Lane-keeping technology
Similar to those little bumps on the side of the freeway, this technology vibrates the steering wheel when the car strays across lanes without indicating.
5. Pre-tensioned/load-limited seat belts
Pre-tensioned seat belts take up slack in the belt when they detect if a crash is imminent. Load limiters help stop serious injury by stretching the belt slightly in a crash if too high a load is placed on the occupant.
6. Dual-stage airbags
Inflating less rapidly in lower severity crashes, these airbags significantly lessen the chance of airbag-related injuries.
7. Seat-mounted side airbags
Seat-mounted side airbags protect the pelvis, chest and abdomen in a side-on crash and unlike door-mounted airbags, stay in the correct position when the seat is moved.
8. Side curtain airbags
This type of airbag drops down from the roof lining and protects the heads of passengers in the front and rear of the car.
9. Isofix child seat mounts
One of the most important safety features are these mounting points for child seats which are built into the car seats, rather than the adult seat belt, making installation of the child seat much easier.
A car or a motorbike is often one of the most expensive things that you will own. The freedom of driving on the open road is difficult to match but those open roads are varied in both location and condition.
Whether you own your vehicle outright, are paying off a loan, or someone else owns it and you are driving/riding it, appropriate risk management is pretty important. Not everyone has the same level of experience or care on the road. In many cases, it doesn’t matter how good a driver you are, as your chances of being in a bingle are very high. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are over 600,000 road accidents in Australia each year, costing the economy an estimated $27 billion annualy.
But it’s not just car crashes that you need to worry about, with statistics showing that 1 in every 9 cars are reported stolen each year.
So as careful as you are with your pride and joy, there’s always a chance that something will, not could, go wrong – making motor vehicle insurance a must.
Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance is the most basic level of cover, and as the name suggests, is compulsory by law. It is generally covered by the government or is included in your vehicle registration fees, depending on which state you live in. This type of insurance provides cover for death or injury to those involved in an accident - apart from the driver.
Unfortunately, CTP insurance doesn’t cover anything that happens to your vehicle or any damage caused by it. For that you need some form of motor vehicle insurance.
Motor Vehicle Insurance: Different Levels of Cover
Motor vehicle insurance has different levels of cover and as is the way with most insurance products, the more cover you take, the more it will cost.
This type of insurance covers the cost of damage caused to other people’s property and legal costs but not damage to your vehicle. It includes items such as other cars, buildings, fences, lamp posts and traffic signals.
Much like Third Party Property Damage, this type of insurance covers the cost of damage to other people’s property, but will also cover you for damage caused to your vehicle by fire or theft. It does not cover damage to the owner’s car caused in a road accident.
The name pretty much says it all – as this insurance product covers you comprehensively. It covers the repair or replacement of your vehicle for events including theft, collision, fire, malicious damage and weather-related damage, such as hail or flooding.
Comprehensive insurance will also cover the cost of repairing and replacing any other vehicles that are damaged by your vehicle in an accident, and damage to property.
In many cases, depending on your policy, it may also cover personal property in the car, death benefits, towing, legal costs and even hire cars needed while repairs are being done. These are usually treated as optional extras, so make sure you talk to an insurance broker or your insurer about which type of policy is right for you.
As with many aspects of living, the law has an effect on everybody - insurance is no different. Several legal aspects are discussed below:
Duty of disclosure
An insurance company asks potential policyholders a number of questions so that it can decide whether to provide insurance and at what cost. The policyholder has a legal obligation to disclose all relevant details that may affect the terms of insurance. This includes any modifications made to a vehicle after the insurance policy is acquired, such as body modifications and sound systems. ‘Hotted up’ cars can be insured, depending on a number of factors, but it is important to disclose all information relating to the modifications. Obviously, this may affect the cost. Some insurers will choose not to insure cars that have been modified, while others tend to specialise in this type of insurance.
Some parents insure the car of a young adult in their own name. This leads to a lower cost, assuming the parent has a reasonably sound driving record. This practice is, in fact, fraudulent as it misleads the insurance company on the level of actual risk and therefore the cost. If your children are of driving age and own their own vehicles, they should have their own policy. Ensure you inform your broker or your insurer if you have children that are of driving age and drive your vehicle as not doing so could void any claim you need to make.
Under federal law (Privacy Act 1988), there are strict guidelines related to the type of information that private-sector organisations, such as insurance companies, can ask. The laws govern the purpose for which information can be used and the way that information about policyholders is treated.
The cost of motor vehicle insurance is determined by the level of cover - the more cover taken, the higher the cost will be, and the level of risk. When you buy motor vehicle insurance, the following factors are considered:
How old you are at the time you get your insurance policy will affect the price of your premium. The younger you are the more you pay because statistically drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to have an accident. Once you hit that magical time of life called 25 or over, the cost of your insurance can drop quite a lot. However, it will generally rise again when you’re over 65—because statistically, seniors, like younger drivers, have a higher accident rate.
Sorry to say guys but studies have been done that show men drive more aggressively than women and are prone to have more accidents, and the prices they are charged for insurance premiums reflect this. Overall, women pay 12% less than males with a similar age, location and driving history.
If you have a spotless driving record with not even the slightest scratch of your car you will most likely pay a lower premium than someone who has had a few incidents. Some car insurance companies even reward safer drivers with ‘safe driver discounts’.
Cars that cost more to repair cost more to insure and cars that have been modified or ‘pimped out’ cost more again. Cars with extra safety features will normally cost less to insure because the safety features result in less claims and lower claim amounts. So before buying a car you might want to research the average prices for insurance for that make or model to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
If you live in a neighbourhood that has a statistically high crime rate you will have to pay a higher premium than someone who lives in a safer area with the same age, same driving record etc. People who live in and near cities pay more than people who live in rural areas because there is more traffic with a bigger chance of having an accident.
When it comes to choosing your policy it can be hard to figure out what’s a reasonable price to pay. So make sure you get plenty of quotes from different insurance companies or talk to a broker to find the policy that covers your needs at a price that suits you best. It's also important to remember to read the conditions to see what’s covered and what isn’t.
In terms of how your vehicle is valued, most insurers will offer two choices - market value or agreed value.
Market value— this is what your car would be sold for on the open market at any given point in time.
Agreed value— this is a fixed value agreed to between you and your insurer.
Insurance companies generally provide a lot of options for people to reduce the premiums they pay. You can actively do a lot of things to help keep the costs down. These include:
As always, contact a broker or your insurer to check how these may be taken into account.
As with most types of insurance product, insurers will offer a range of extras that you may wish to consider. Of course, with any extra you choose, there will be an additional cost. These include:
What to do if you have an accident
When people take out motor vehicle insurance, they hope they never have to use it. Makes total sense. But with so many accidents happening every day, there’s a pretty good chance you will need to make a claim at some point.
Luckily though, most accidents only damage the vehicles rather than the occupants. The question is, do you know what to do if you have an accident?
Pleasure craft insurance is designed to protect private boat owners from loss or damage to their vessel and accessories as well as any legal liability arising out of the use of the vessel.
Like private motor vehicle insurance, there is usually a no claims bonus system and this can result in a cheaper cost if no claims are made.
Policies differ slightly among insurers, but the basic tenets are common to most insurers in Australia and New Zealand.
A typical pleasure craft owner’s policy protects the insured and anyone using the pleasure craft with the insured’s permission. The definition of BOAT usually includes:
The craft is insured for market or agreed value, and is usually accompanied by an excess. The excess is payable only when the policy holder is at fault.
Will pay/Full cover
Won't pay /No Cover
Voluntary rescue work
Extra costs- i.e. hiring replacement craft
Towing damaged craft to safety
Reduction in value- because of age or damage
Personal property on craft if lost or damaged
Cost of worn-out parts
Inspection of hull if stranded
Rust or corrosion
Recovering boat, reducing loss costs
Faulty workmanship, structural defects, design
Dismantle, clean craft if submerged
Mechanical or electrical breakdown
Pre-existing damage (prior to insurance)
Damage to tyres of trailer
Skiing or diving equipment,
Fishing equipment not permanently attached to craft,
Unsecured sails, protective covers, outboard motors
Damage to sails, masts, riggings as a result of racing.
For sailing boats, a racing risk extension is available (for races that are less than 50 nautical miles).
When filing a claim, an insured must fulfil various contractual obligations including to:
If you’re taking the opportunity to travel more, or just enjoying your boat, caravan or motor home on the weekends, there are insurance products to help make sure you’re always protected.
Whether you keep it permanently onsite, or take it across the country, caravan insurance policy provides protection against accidental damage to your caravan. You can also cover extras such as your annexe and contents.
There are usually two types of caravan insurance covers, comprehensive (which covers both parked and mobile caravan) and onsite (which cover parked and/or immobile caravans).
A Product Disclosure Statement ( PDS) is a legal document, or sometimes a group of documents, that contains information about your insurance policy. A PDS will typically include any significant benefits and risks, the cost of the policy and the fees and charges that the policy provider may receive. Supplementary PDSs may be issued from time to time and must be read in conjunction with the PDS to which they relate. A PDS will help you understand the insurance policy and give you the the information about the terms and conditions, policy benefits and exclusions that you can use to compare differet policies. You should be aware that a PDS doesn't take into account your individual needs or financial situation.
Reading the PDS will help you compare and make an informed choice about the policy and give you information on you how your insurer will respond if you need to make a claim. And most importantly, if you don’t fully understand the PDS contact your insurance company and ask for more information. It's always better to have more information than less.
When you take out a new policy make sure you have the details of your new product explained to you and confirmed in writing. In most cases, you will also have the benefit of a 30-day cooling off period. This means if you change your mind in the first 30 days after joining, and haven’t made a claim for benefits on the new product you may get a refund of any contributions you’ve paid.
Sometimes, it’s nice to take something and make it your own. Sometimes, that thing you take and make your own is your car.
If you are contemplating 'souping up' your vehicle, regardless of whether the modification you want to make is in the form of a minor safety-minded addition or in the form of a full-on facelift, there are some important things you need to know and consider, both when it comes to the law and your car insurance.
So, if customising your ride is something you feel compelled to do, make sure you do your due diligence. While we can’t help you paint those fun racing stripes on your car, we can help you with the aforementioned due diligence. Let’s dive in and have a look at the modification-related things you need to know.
Important non-insurance considerations prior to making modifications
First and foremost, before you add to or change anything on your car, you need to be certain that what you plan to do is actually legal. All vehicles being driven on the roads need to be what is termed “street-legal” — and there is every chance that your intended modifications may impact your vehicle’s street-legal status.
As a result, always notify your relevant licensing authority before making any modifications to your car.
What happens if my modifications are illegal?
If your modifications aren’t legal, typically a few of the following things will happen, all of which are pretty massive headaches:
How do I know if my modifications are legal?
In Australia, modifications to your car need to be approved by your state or territory’s motor vehicle licensing department and they must comply with the following:
What sorts of modifications are usually allowed by law?
Permissible vehicle modifications include, but are not limited to, the following:
What sorts of modifications are usually illegal?
In general, the following are no-go zones:
Important modification-related insurance considerations
Now that we’ve handled the legal stuff, let’s take a look at what you need to be aware of when it comes to modified vehicles and car insurance.
Do I need to notify my insurer?
Yes, you absolutely need to notify your insurer if you plan to make changes to your car. It’s as simple as that. Failing to notify your insurer of any modifications could lead to the cancellation or voidance of your policy and rejection of any claims you make.
In some circumstances, failure to notify your insurer about modifications may even lead to the warranty on your car being voided.
What kinds of modifications will and won’t be covered?
While policies will vary between individual insurers, when it comes to modifications, insurers deemed “mainstream” will usually cover the following:
The sorts of things that these mainstream insurers usually won’t cover include the following:
Will modifications affect the cost of insurance?
Typically, yes. While some modifications are pretty benign and won’t make a difference to your premium, where other modifications are concerned, whether or not the effect on cost is positive or negative will depend on what kind of modifications you are planning to make.
If you’ve put an alarm system in your car, which lowers the risk of theft, or you’ve added safety features, which lower the risk of an accident, then your insurance premium may actually be lower.
However, changes that impact performance and aesthetics (yes, even those fun racing stripes) usually carry a higher accident risk — and, therefore, a higher premium. Other changes that increase the value of your car — like stereo systems and custom parts —also increase its appeal to thieves, meaning such modifications also attract a higher premium.
How does me being super-young and hot affect my insurance prospects if I modify my car?
It’s pretty simple: If you modify your vehicle (particularly in a manner that is linked to greater engine capacity and speed) and you’re under 25 (and particularly if you are male), you may find yourself uninsurable, regardless of what type of insurer you try to acquire coverage with (e.g. mainstream or specialist insurer).
Who are these specialist insurers you just mentioned?
If the modifications you want to make to your vehicle will have mainstream insurers showing you the door, you may have better luck with a specialist insurer.
Specialist insurers will often provide coverage to modified vehicles in circumstances where mainstream insurers won’t. For example, specialist insurers will usually provide insurance coverage for enhancements or alterations to suspension, engine or chassis (provided such changes are legally compliant).
However, bear in mind that younger drivers with modified vehicles will typically struggle to secure cover with a specialist insurer, and premiums in general with specialist insurers aren’t extremely competitive — the idea is that they will provide you with insurance where other insurers won’t, not that they will provide you with cheap insurance where other insurers won’t provide you with insurance at all.
While the types of modifications that carry higher premiums will vary among specialist insurers just as they do among mainstream insurers, modifications that increase the power of your vehicle will usually attract a relative increase in premium with specialist insurers. For example, if the modification to your car increases its power by 15 per cent, then your insurance premium will also increase 15 per cent.
The overall message
Never make a modification to your car before doing your research about whether it’s legal and how such a modification will impact your insurance. Those racing stripes look way better on a vehicle that is both insured and not impounded.
Read more about decisions that can affect your car insurance here
This is a common type of insurance, involving a person or an organisation taking out insurance to protect against a liability they might face from a third party in connection with a business-related activity. The third party typically has suffered some kind of loss, such as physical and/or property damage, and, as a result of this, might try to argue that someone else should compensate them.
This claim would usually be a negligence claim brought against the other party. (Some claims are also covered by contract law or the federal Trade Practices Act 1974.)
To make a public liability claim, the person suing generally has to show that their injury or loss is the fault of the other person or organisation they are suing.
Darren suffers food poisoning after eating a pie at the football. If he wants compensation from the person who sold him the pie, he will have to argue that his injury was their fault. In other words, that he got the food poisoning from eating the pie, and not from any other source.
If the pie seller above is found by the court to have been negligent in serving a dangerous pie, they might order the seller to pay the injured football fan compensation. This could be a large amount. However, if the seller has public liability insurance, they won’t have to pay the amount themselves; their insurance company will pay. This could save the seller thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Recently, community concern about rising public liability costs has been raised, with many organisations and individuals complaining about increased costs. This has resulted in the cancellation of some community events because the organisers could not find appropriate public liability insurance at a reasonable price.
As a result, State and Territory governments around Australia have changed the rules relating to claims for negligence. These changes have made it tougher for a person to sue for negligence by:
With public liability insurance there must be a proper balance between compensation for those who have been injured through the negligence of others and the costs to society of asking insurance companies to pay this compensation. Everyone contributes to the costs of insurance. If too many claims for public liability are allowed to succeed, there is a negative effect on society as everyone has to pay more for insurance.
In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of public liability claims made on defendants with payouts rising.
From 1997 to 2003 the average size of a settled public liability claim (‘settled’ means paid out by an insurance company before the matter went to court) increased from $11,000 to almost $17, 000.
From 1997 to 2003 the average cost for a public liability insurance policy increased from about $600 to $1,400.