Straight talking from the Editor’s keyboard.
The recent Covid-19 pandemic has changed so much in the world of work, especially in the UK, where for decades millions of people have commuted 3-10 miles a day on average, to a place of work. Many have long since given up on public transport and drive to work and this led to a person’s occupation being a crucial factor in working out the overall risk when it came to car insurance.
But as working from home becomes the new normal, you have to ask the question; what difference does your job make and when will this archaic 1980s tick-box exercise be consigned to the dustbin of insurance history?
Long ago, when Mondeo Man roamed the M25 with Trebor mints, Filofax and a boot full of samples, your job as a sales rep, local journalist, estate agent photographer, or area manager for Dolcis shoe shops, meant that you racked up 50K miles a year and probably worked about 12 hours a day. But most of those jobs have vanished in the last 40 years, or changed into something essentially internet based, with occasional site visits as and when.
If WFH does become the new pattern of work for millions of people, what will that do to the traditional rush hour commute? Probably flatten that curve, spreading journeys out across the day. So where does that leave the optional Commuting cover upgrade on most policies, do you still need it for `commuting’ into an office for two meetings a week at 11am?
Then there’s the development of technology that can monitor how a car is being driven, where it’s being parked in the day, and overnight, which shops and schools are frequented and much more. In a market where mileage, driver experience, owner NCD and actual day-to-day car usage, are the primary factors in providing a quote, the importance of an occupation is of limited use. Unless that day job is road tester for Top Gear magazine of course.
Over the next 12 months or so, about two million people in the UK are going to lose their jobs, mainly due to furlough cash running out and companies responding to the death of High Street retailing, plus a 20% decline in hospitality and events, travel and tourism. Losing a steady 9-6pm job isn’t their fault and frankly, if they continue to drive and work two part-time jobs to keep afloat, that’s no reason to jack up their premiums because some 1990s dataset says that means the accident risk just increased.
What matters is how they drive in heavy traffic, since this is when kost collisions occur. Or where they park at work and how risky that area is for car crime? Did they skip the last 36,000 mile service because cash is a bit tight right now? Insurers need to develop a new algorithm for car insurance post-Covid-19, because that world of mass commuting, office jobs and NCP car parks full of leased BMWs, Audis and Mercs, is coming to a shuddering halt.