TRENDS: Technology continues to impact vehicles, insurance

In technology-related news in recent weeks:
• Progressive offers a new app that allows anyone to scan the VINs of two or three vehicles, send them to the insurer, and receive a comparison of the potential costs to insure the vehicles.
• A coalition of insurers and safety advocates is asking Congress to approve $60 million for a five-year research program aimed at outfitting cars with automatic alcohol-detection devices that could keep drunk drivers off the road.
• A pair of hackers say at a security conference this month they will demonstrate how they can locate a vehicle that has a cellular-network-based security system (such as GM’s OnStar) and remotely unlock and start it using nothing more than simple cell-phone-initiated text message.
• A report from the Highway Loss Data Institute shows that the “City Safety” accident-avoidance system on the Volvo XC60 resulted in that vehicle being involved in 27 percent fewer property-damage accidents (and 51 percent fewer bodily injury accidents) than other mid-sized luxury SUVs; the XC60 was 19 percent less likely than other Volvos to be involved in property-damage accidents.
•PARS Paintless Dent Removal is working to improve work flow processes by incorporating new media technology as the estimating platform. Most PARS insurance adjusters can be found with electronic tablets such as the Apple iPad and Windows Slate to provide a quicker method of writing an appraisal.
•Toyota, meanwhile, is reportedly close to implmenting its own accident-avoidance technology that will both slow the car and steer it away from an impact with another vehicle.
Status Report: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety