A typical car insurance application will ask you your date-of-birth, gender, years of driving experience, and accident and road violation history to determine how safe you are as a driver.
In the mind of an underwriter, your likelihood of an accident is a function of how well you drive, not the car you are driving. After all, 20% of drivers over age 21 will never cause a collision.
However, this is likely to change. Safety features on cars are beginning to bring down claims frequency. This means the car you drive could become the primary consideration for pricing a policy with the driver ultimately becoming inconsequential.
Volvo just unveiled their next generation of safety features they plan to launch over the coming years. Future Volvo cars will use computer vision to monitor a driver's behavior and take over when they are distracted. There will be optional maximum speed limits that parents can implement for younger drivers, for example.
In this new scenario, actuarial models that know how to price a 19-year-old male driver vs a middle aged woman may become less relevant. More important data will include a car's make, model, installed level-2-autonomy-and-above features and how often these features are engaged while driving.
If insurers are slow in reorienting their underwriting and pricing models it will leave an opening for data-driven insurtech startups.
In addition to the cameras monitoring a driver's eyes—where they are looking, how long they have been looking away from the road, if they are closed—the car is monitoring steering input and reaction times. The first warning for the driver comes in the form of audible and visual warnings, like a beep paired with a flashing icon in the gauge cluster. If the driver still isn't re-taking complete control, the car will slow itself down and Volvo's On Call assistance program will directly contact the driver (think a Swedish OnStar). If none of that works, and the car still detects extreme distraction and dangerous situations, it will safely pull itself over, and contact emergency services if necessary.