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UK insurers gain insights into new vehicle features as Verisk adds Thatcham Research Variant Code

Press release   •   Aug 18, 2021 09:00 BST

Variant Code addresses long-standing challenge to accurately underwrite new vehicles
  • Variant Code addresses long-standing challenge to accurately underwrite new vehicles
  • Brings together precise data from Thatcham Research’s independent, hands-on vehicle research, and directly from carmakers and third-party data providers
  • Verisk and its customers now have sight of standard and potential fitment of optional features for every major UK vehicle released in the last six years

The lack of data regarding the varying features of newer vehicle models can fundamentally affect an insurer’s understanding of vehicle risk. Many insurers struggle to identify features that have become available in more car models and marketed under different product names. A new collaboration between Verisk (Nasdaq:VRSK) and Thatcham Research aims to solve this industry problem.

Verisk, a leading global data analytics provider, is enhancing its motor insurance solutions with Thatcham Research’s Variant Code, a unique and extensive dataset that provides updated information on the growing variety of standard and optional features in UK vehicles.

Dan Payne, Chief Digital Officer at Thatcham Research said: “This is about accurate risk assessment at a uniquely granular level. Variant Code offers a competitive advantage, empowering Verisk’s insurer customers to make more informed and intelligent decisions, and price according to the features present on a particular model variant. This is fundamental as vehicles evolve and technologies that were once the preserve of high-end models are increasingly made available at entry level.”

Verisk is also benefitting from the aggregated view of data that Variant Code provides. Sean Moriarty, operations manager, Verisk said, “Carmakers have their own naming conventions for vehicle features, which can be problematic. However Variant Code provides this information using a consistent nomenclature, ensuring the quick and easy identification of these features.”

Helping insurers make more informed decisions

With Thatcham Research’s Variant Code, Verisk can help insurers more accurately identify the potential presence of these features across model variants. Features such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), expensive headlights, and keyless and connectivity systems, will now be captured more accurately, addressing what has been a frustration for the insurance industry.

“Variant Code addresses a long-standing challenge to the accurate underwriting of new vehicle models, benefitting both insurers and insureds. Until now, there has been a lack of clarity regarding the fitment of certain features across vehicle variants and their potential positive or negative impact on risk. ADAS have been a particular issue – with little information available to insurers on the presence of technology that can reduce accident risk,” Moriarty commented.

--Editor’s Notes--

Variant Code explained

Variant Code enhances the long-established vehicle risk data Thatcham Research has delivered for the past 20 years on behalf of its Members and the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

It addresses the limitations of the current ABIcode, which is assigned when a carmaker first releases a vehicle derivative. The derivative is defined by the model, range or mark, trim level, body style, engine size and power, and fuel and transmission types.

However, carmakers often adapt the fitment of features to the vehicle, based on factors such as sales performance, or where the model is in its lifecycle. These updates can have a significant impact on the risk profile of a particular vehicle variant.

For example, the 2018 Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBlue and the 2019 Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBlue share the same ABIcode but not the same features.

Now Variant Code users gain extended insight into which features are fitted as standard and which are potentially present as options and can price more accurately as a result.

Variant Code key details:

  • Contains data for more than 50,000 vehicle variants
  • Provides data granularity on key systems such as ADAS, Lighting, Security & Connectivity
  • Provides 98% coverage of the car parc released in the UK since 2015
  • Allows insurers to identify standard fit ADAS, security and connectivity. Potential presence of optional features is also provided

New Variant Code data is published on a weekly basis and the continued development of datasets and system features will be driven by feedback from Thatcham Research’s insurer members.

Verisk currently provide a Data Enrichment Service used at both Underwriting and Claims by insurers to retrieve vehicle data, vehicle rating information, risk alerts and damage history. The Variant Code data will be offered as an add-on to this product, allowing insurers to retrieve the most appropriate Variant Code matched against the feature list (ADAS data, security data etc.) for vehicles. For any queries on Verisk’s services, please contact Info-Ireland <info-ireland@verisk.com>

--ENDS--

Thatcham Research is the independent voice of automotive safety, security & repair, advising motorists, insurers and vehicle manufacturers to help reduce accident frequency, severity and costs and to realise the vision of ‘Safer cars, fewer crashes’, while driving standards in vehicle security.

As well as its world leading crash and track research, Thatcham Research develops repair methods amongst a number of other products and services within the collision repair industry for insurers, motor manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

In addition, Thatcham Research has administered the Association of British Insurer’s (ABI) Group Rating system for the past 50 years. Group Rating is an advisory system intended to provide insurers with the relative risk of private cars and light commercial vehicles.

A founder member of the international Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR), Thatcham Research has also been a member of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) since 2004.