Tesla partners with British insurer for Autopilot discount

December 14, 2017

British insurer Direct Line is now offering a 5 percent discount to Tesla drivers to encourage them to use semi-autonomous driving tech. The offer is part of a collaboration between the insurance company and Tesla, which is estimated to have sold over 2,500 vehicles equipped with its Autopilot tech in the U.K. to date.

The tie-in is part of the carmaker’s “Insure My Tesla” program, and will see Tesla refer buyers to Direct Line, which will in-turn offer the discount. Despite the obvious push to use the cars’ Autopilot feature, it is not a requirement to receive the special rate.

According to Direct Line, this is not a matter of Tesla’s Autopilot system justifying a reduced premium based on a safety record, per se, but rather an attempt to further the system’s use, thereby increasing the amount of available data. The ultimate goal from Tesla’s side of the equation is to convince insurers that Autopilot-equipped cars are involved in fewer accidents.

Dan Freedman, Head of Motor Development at Direct Line, said, “At present the driver is firmly in charge so it’s just like insuring other cars, but it does offer Direct Line a great opportunity to learn and prepare for the future.”

There’s no word yet on how much access Direct Line will have to Tesla’s on-board data. The fact that the actual use of Autopilot isn’t a requirement — it’s merely encouraged, after all — would indicate that the insurer lacks the means of determining if the system is actually in use at the time of an accident. There is, however, an ongoing attempt by the Association of British Insurers to gain exactly that sort of data post-collision, as companies look to assign fault.

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