Government claims that insurance premiums would be cut if drivers take a cyclist awareness course have come as a complete surprise to the insurance industry’s trade body, the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Insurers say they have not been consulted about the Government plan.
The Department for Transport (DfT) announcement suggested there would be vehicle insurance discounts for drivers that take the Bikeability training programme, with a particular focus on business drivers (fleetnews.co.uk, November 22).
However, a spokesman for the ABI told Fleet News: “We were unaware of this proposal. There have been no discussions between the ABI and the Government on any proposals around motor insurance premiums and its Bikeability scheme.
“Insurers support improved road safety, but in 2017 less than 0.1% of motor claims involved cyclists, so it is hard to see how this could have any meaningful impact on premiums.”
According to Government statistics from last year, 100 cyclists died on UK roads and 470 pedestrians were killed, an increase of 5%.
The DfT called for evidence as part of its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) safety consultation.
Respondents said insurance premiums discounts should be used as an incentive to take cycle training. They also claimed that motorists who are also cyclists are less likely to be involved in motoring insurance claims.
The DfT said it wanted to incentivise Bikeability cycle training, by offering discounts to road users who have passed Bikeability Level 3, with commercial motor insurers of fleet vehicles, lorries, vans and minibuses a priority. However, when asked to react to the industry’s ignorance over the proposal, the DfT failed to respond directly to the question.
Instead, a spokesman said: “At this stage we are simply exploring with insurance providers what opportunities we can offer to help them identify lower risk insurance policyholders.”
He added that the department will be engaging with motor insurers and organisations that promote best practice in work-related road safety management over the next two years as part of its action plan.
“In these discussions we will seek to understand whether there is scope for insurance companies to provide incentives to professional drivers and riders to undertake training focused on the needs of cyclists and other vulnerable road users,” he said.
The DfT declined to confirm if it has since set up a meeting with the ABI to discuss proposals.
A spokesman for Admiral Insurance said the first they had heard of the Government’s proposal was reading it in the news.
He said: “It’s too soon to say if we would take part (in offering premium discounts) or who it would be offered to.
“We welcome any initiatives that could reduce the number of accidents involving motorists and cyclists, but we would want any course to make a real difference and reduce the number of cyclists being injured in road accidents, so it’s worthwhile.”
There are three Bikeability levels, each designed to improve cycling skills.
The Government had said the insurance discounts would be for those that have completed the highest Level 3, which includes elements like planning and making an independent journey on busier roads.
The courses can be provided by local councils or approved training providers either for free or for “minimal cost” due to DfT subsidies.
The DfT said it also wants to give councils more powers to tackle parking in cycling lanes and it is working with the police, courts and road safety groups on using courses or training as part of the sentencing framework for driving and cycling offences.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at the road safety charity Brake, said: “With cyclists and pedestrians among the most vulnerable on our roads, safety, and the perceptions of safety, need to be addressed to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and get active.”
The proposal was announced as part of a DfT two-year action plan to improve safety for vulnerable road users.
The DfT has put together 50 new measures as part of the Government’s plan to combat road rage, encourage greater mutual respect between road users and protect the most vulnerable.