June 18, 2018

Careless talk costs lives. That was the stark warning this week as insurers sought to button down loose language around cars which – to a greater or lesser extent – can do things all by themselves.

Insurers are notoriously fussy about words. So much so that many of them employ painstakingly punctilious specialists who live and breath the arcane art of ‘wording’.

Their output (known as ‘wordings’) forms the basis of all those crucial bits of insurance policies that no-one bothers reading.

What these ‘worders’ don’t know about words – and the peculiar and unfamiliar meanings they tend to take on in the mysterious world of insurance – is, frankly, not worth knowing.

When insurance worders look at ordinary people trying to use words, they’re apt to tut and frown and shake their heads despairingly. Marketing people are the worst. Those maniacs twist and turn words as if meaning meant nothing and selling, conversely, meant everything.

What’s bugging wordingistas mostly at the moment is the crazily inappropriate language being bandied about by the makers of more or less self-steering vehicles.

Auto-pilot. Auto-mated. Auto-nomous. These are the kinds of phrases currently in use by the likes of BMW, Nissen and Twizla to describe their so-called semi-self-driving vehicle offerings.

But insurer ‘body’ the ABI has had enough. If you tell someone, they argue, that their car is going to drive itself and then it doesn’t at some point (and they’re not driving it either), that’s a sure-fire recipe for RTA.

Thatcham Research – the people who throw cars around and smash them up to see what happens – reckon car makers need to stop sticking misleading labels like ‘Autopilot’ or ‘ProPilot’ or ‘Relax, I got this!’ on their semi-automated motors.

No good can ever come of introducing things when people aren’t ready for them – and, for precisely that reason, Thatcham say they’re concerned about motorists being offered tech they don’t know what to make of.

Ambiguous automotive nomenclature quite literally opens the door to a perilous grey area in which drivers may think its OK to be polishing their nails – or trouser-tucking the tip of their Trump-length ties – when in fact they’re supposed to be steering.

We need to be perfectly clear about this, says Thatcham’s Matt Aviary: assisted means you’re driving, automated means your not. There’s no excuse, he says, for confusing terminology like Twizla’s Autopilot, which not only isn’t all that ‘auto’ – it also only works in cars, not aeroplanes.

So next time you’re purchasing a car which you suspect may be planning to play some role in determining the speed and direction of your vehicle, be sure to ask the salesman exactly how the thing works and – in particular – when it may or may not be OK to start doing the crossword or, by way of secondary exemplage, fishing unwanted greenery from that manky-looking club sandwich over on the passenger seat.

 


ShareShare


What our clients say about us

After the problems I had with my previous insurer when I was knocked off my bike, it was very refreshing to talk to someone who didn't automatically assume that I was at fault simply because I ride a motorbike. I received a call back very quickly from someone who knew what I was talking about and dealt with my call in a friendly yet very professional manner. Thank you.
Mr. L - Westcliff on Sea