As the driverless-car industry grew exponentially in the last several years, auto insurers remained, for the most part, as silent observers on the sidelines when it comes to regulation and policymaking.

That changed in mid-2018, when Travelers, the insurer that issued the nation’s first auto liability policy in 1897, decided to weigh in on the subject. In a white paper, “Insuring Autonomy: How auto insurance can adapt to changing risks,” The Travelers Institute argues that insurance industry should play a central role in policymaking to develop a ‘uniform legal and regulatory framework’ for autonomous vehicles.

“Ensuring that a clear risk transfer mechanism is in place will help facilitate the development of autonomous vehicles and the improved safety we expect they will bring to our roads,” said Michael Klein, executive vice president and president, Personal Insurance at Travelers.

In the report, Travelers recommends that any comprehensive autonomous-vehicle legal/regulatory structure must include insurance-specific components, including:

  1. Addressing insurance liability standards as the primary risk transfer mechanism;
  2. Providing for sufficient coverage limits at the vehicle level;
  3. Standardizing data governance and cybersecurity requirements;
  4. Ensuring representation of the insurance industry in policymaking and stakeholder forums and discussions.

“Insurers will have unique and valuable insights into several of the key issues that will likely arise from AV technology, such as risk assessment and mitigation, big data analysis, the functioning of comprehensive liability regimes and navigating state-federal coordination issues,” the report states. “Travelers also supports the creation of a nongovernment stakeholder coalition to address and make recommendations with respect to insurance-related AV issues.”

In October, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released a similar report titled, ‘Auto Insurance for Automated Vehicles: Preparing for the Future of Mobility,’ calling for the active involvement of Canadian insurers in the updating of relevant laws.

“Provincial and federal governments and regulators, insurers and other stakeholders must work together to put in place appropriate auto insurance policies and supporting legislation as well as updated vehicle safety standards. With automated vehicles coming to Canada’s roads in the near future, the time to begin this work is now,” IBC wrote.

“The IBC’s paper has been widely applauded by Canadian insurers and brokers as ‘a good starting point’ for what will likely become one of the most interesting insurance debates in the next decade,” Insurance Business Canada reports.

I look forward to watching our industry’s more proactive involvement in 2019.

If you would like to learn more, you can read my Ultimate Guide to Self-driving Cars.

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