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The insurance agent's role in the future of vehicle safety systems


The bumpy road of progress

The automotive industry has always been home to visionaries, from Henry Ford to Carroll Shelby to Elon Musk. Innovative vehicles and the technology they house spark excitement and imagination. Yet, outside of concepts at auto shows, practical concerns are the necessary and constant governor on progress. Unlike a smartphone, motor vehicles not only affect the driver—they must safely co-exist on highways and country roads with other drivers. This means the road toward auto technology progress tends to feel less like a cruise-controlled joyride and more like stop-and-go traffic. We’ve compiled the top six vehicle advanced safety systems questions every insurance agent should keep in mind.


What advanced safety systems are today’s vehicles equipped with?

Manufacturers now provide many advanced safety system features as standard, and drivers of all incomes expect some bells and whistles with their new purchase. This includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning (FCW), lane-keep assist (LKA), and adaptive cruise control (ACC).  These features rely on a front-facing camera, which requires recalibration following a windshield replacement. Other features like voice commands, hand gestures, adaptive lighting, heads-up displays, and computerized, onboard diagnostics give the driver command of the road like never before.


What’s next for vehicle technology?

Unsurprisingly, those invested in vehicle advanced safety systems are looking further down the road. Artificial intelligence integration, 3-D mapping, and motor-less vehicles are just some of the concepts quickly becoming a reality. Annie Milner, Head of Future Trends Research at Belron Technical, recently shared some news from Apple's R&D advancements. According to Apple’s recent patent applications, they are dedicating resources on an increasingly complex aspect of the vehicle: The glass.

  • One patent describes embedding display technology directly into the auto glass, giving manufacturers a host of new possibilities when designing the interior.
  • Another patent details the necessary steps and parts for a vehicle to detect and warn drivers of cracked auto glass.

Electrochromic glass, also known as smart glass, allows for additional comforts like tinting with the push of a button, glass canopies, and even transparent, next-gen displays within the glass are considerations for automakers and vehicle design leaders. Luxury vehicle maker McLaren shared a concept in which windshield wipers may not be necessary any longer. Leveraging ultrasonic technology to create sound waves, moisture, snow, and debris would hypothetically be forced off the glass. They’ve even created a few limited-edition models which do away with a windshield entirely. Needless to say, we’re not entirely on board with this concept.


How does the increasing complexity of vehicle safety tech affect part selection and cost?

Auto manufacturers and glass experts must also be ready for the challenges created with the increase in part complexity, not to mention the increase in cost. According to Consumer Reports, windshield replacement for a vehicle fitted with safety systems can be as much as 400% more expensive than a vehicle without. With the steep increase in make and model variations, this also means there are far more parts to consider than even just a few years ago. Safelite’s answer this challenge, Simple Parts Selection (SPS), leverages much of the same technology vehicle manufacturers use for safety systems: Artificial intelligence. Applying advanced algorithms, Safelite’s systems can map the vehicle identification number (VIN) to the factory-installed part, making the selection process much more accurate and giving policyholders a much better experience.


Are auto shops prepared to recalibrate these systems after auto glass service?

Advancements in vehicle safety technology mean it is critical auto glass service companies understand how they work to ensure a proper recalibration during a windshield replacement. Safelite has been recognized again and again as an industry leader in recalibration of advanced safety systems, covering over 95% of the vehicles on the road today. And given our team of in-house experts, proprietary software, industry partnerships, and nationwide coverage, it's no wonder customers trust us to deliver the best auto glass repairs, replacements, and recalibrations, every time.


What are industry experts saying about the future of vehicle autonomy?

Vehicle technology progress has been swift by almost any industry standard, but the barriers to full autonomy quickly become apparent. Whether a lack of case law supporting widespread adoption, environmental factors, or most worrisome, the seemingly endless variations of traffic patterns and unexpected obstacles within a journey, vehicle autonomy still faces many significant hurdles. Waymo CEO John Krafcik put it succinctly, “It’s really, really hard. You don’t know what you don’t know until you’re actually in there trying to do things.” Senior Vice President Sharath Reddy of autonomous driving industry supplier Magna admitted as much. “We've come to the realization that this is not an easy problem to solve."

Despite industry setbacks and challenges, vehicle technology continues to barrel forward. If ever in doubt about a company’s priorities, just look at their wallets and their time.

  • 16 billion: The number of dollars 30 companies spent in the last few years developing vehicle autonomy technology.
  • 1,500: The number of rides Waymo averages in one month in their testing facility in Arizona. 


Who’s responsible when autonomy fails?

Understanding how these technologies affect policyholders, their driving experience, and ultimately, who is responsible for the indemnity following an accident, will decide how much of a role insurance agents play in their decision to renew the policy. Jamison Narbaitz, senior counsel with Clyde & Co., recently shared his perspective during an insurance conference as it relates to autonomy changing the insurance landscape. "As there's more fleet ownership of vehicles, there will also be less of a need for personal auto and…more of a focus on product liability-type coverages." Bloomberg New Energy Finance Analyst Alejandro Zamorano took it a step further in a recent report, “We expect…a gradual shift in the type of auto insurance products as well as new revenue sources for insurance companies.”


Safelite Repair, Replace…and Renew: Continuing Education Classes Near You

Our ongoing investments in understanding vehicle advanced safety systems not only means your policyholders receive the best service, but it also gives agents and industry partners a reliable source for understanding the vehicle safety technology of tomorrow. We provide Continuing Education courses in locations around the country, covering a range of topics, including the future of automotive technology.

Get started deepening your knowledge of the industry by contacting your local Regional Account Manager today and find a class near you.