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Engaging The Insurance Sector In Making Roads Safer For All

Thursday, May 18, 2017
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Road traffic crashes are one of the leading causes of death globally – 1.25 million people are estimated to be killed on the roads each year, representing more than 3,400 deaths per day – equivalent to more than 141 deaths per hour – while another 30 to 50 million people are injured every year. Road crashes are responsible for more deaths than malaria, suicides and homicides and are the only non-disease-related cause among the ten leading causes of death ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Road crash deaths are estimated to rise to 1.9 million by 2020 due to increased motorization across the world, especially in low and middle income countries (LMICs), which are highly likely to experience the greatest increases in future fatality rates. Today, 91% of the world’s collisions happen in LMICs, showing significant gaps of impact between high income countries vs. LMICs.

Road collisions have a total global cost of US$ 518 billion, which corresponds to 1 to 3% of the countries’ GDP. Costs can rise up to 5% in LMICs and even to 8 to 10% in some cases such as South-Africa and Uganda where road crashes are a crucial challenge.

While road traffic crashes are far too numerous and cause dramatic losses for society, it is important to mention that they are not inevitable because the vast majority is preventable if subject to targeted actions.

So what role for insurers?

The insurance industry has a key role to play to impact road safety and contribute to the global target set by the United Nations within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to halve by 2020 the number of global deaths and injuries from road crashes. Covering almost 1 billion vehicles globally, with US$ 626 billion premiums in 2016, Motor Insurance is a major business for insurers. It accounts for 12.8% of the total insurance premiums.

The motor vehicle insurance value chain highlights how the insurance industry can respond to road risks, by embedding road safety incentives in their business model, in order to provide benefits to their customers and the wider community:

Road safety leaders in international organizations also recognize the power of the insurance industry to drive change in road safety by fostering risk prevention with road users every day and working with governments for enforced regulation and infrastructure. 

Insurers have a key role to help improve road safety worldwide. The potential benefits of these initiatives for society as a whole are even larger, as road safety improvements are also linked to environmental and health issues.

“This global guide to strengthen the insurance industry’s contribution to road safety supports the vision of UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) Initiative—a risk-aware world, where the insurance industry is trusted and plays it full role in enabling a healthy, safe, resilient and sustainable society.” – Butch Bacani, Programme Leader, UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative UNPSI

AXA and road safety

As an insurer of more than 30 million vehicles globally, road safety has always been a natural commitment for AXA, expressing our responsibility towards society at large. We cherish our mission to protect our customers and prevent the risks they may face. Local entities have taken a variety of actions/initiatives to act decisively on improving road safety, among which:

Innovative education and awareness programs,
Partnerships with public authorities to encourage stronger road safety regulations
Road safety adds-on embedded in products and services
Studies and scientific research on road safety.

“At AXA Gulf, we believe that we have a role to play in supporting the communities in which we operate and, in turn, to help create stronger and more sustainable societies. With the mission to empower people to live a better life, we have identified road safety as one of the many initiatives we feel requires our immediate attention. We aim to share our extensive knowledge on protection and risk management to support the authorities in their efforts to increase awareness of safe driving,” stated Cedric Charpentier, CEO of AXA Gulf.

Opportunities to move forward as insurers

New technologies will heavily disrupt the traditional motor vehicle insurance business. It is expected that many risks will be transferred from individuals to vehicles and in-vehicle connected devices, which will involve vehicle manufacturers, technology providers and other stakeholders.

Opportunities coming from new technologies and responsible use of data will certainly reinforce and expand insurers’ role in protecting our customers on the road.