Fears that road pricing scheme could turn insurers into tax collectors

The ABI is examining whether insurers could become the government's road toll collectors under the proposed pay-as-you drive scheme.

The controversial plans to introduce a national road pricing system will force motorists to pay to use the roads and could have a major impact on the insurance market.

An ABI sub committee has been established to investigate how the insurance industry could fit into the govern- ment's road pricing plans.

Insurers have been developing telematics, the technology behind pay-as-you-drive, to price motor premiums

The ABI is considering whether the insurance industry's telematics technology could be used to collect road tolls.

An ABI spokesman said: "We are looking at what mechanisms will be in place, and whether the industry will be forced to look at becoming tax collectors. How will insurers react to becoming tax collectors?"

Dave Swann, head of motor development at Fortis, said the committee was assessing the merits and downfalls of road pricing. "We are asking where do we want to go with this? We are keen to use the technology but actually running the system? It is unlikely," he said.

This week it emerged that the government would seek volunteers to pilot a road pricing system. It comes as public momentum against the scheme picked up speed, with more than 1.5 million people signing a petition against it.

Road use in the UK is on the verge of hitting an all time high, with the Department for Transport admitting that road traffic has risen another five billion vehicle kilometres, a 12% rise since 1997. It is estimated that by 2025 congestion would cost the industry £22bn in lost time annually.