“With the increasing adoption of semi-autonomous vehicles and the potential for fully autonomous vehicles, several policy-related questions and challenges are beginning to emerge,” said Michael Klein,EVP and President, Personal Insurance at Travelers. “It’s important that the insurance industry play a central role in policymaking discussions 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.”
The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies released a white paper, “Insuring Autonomy: How auto insurance can adapt to changing risks,” presenting Travelers’ assessment of the existing auto insurance structure, both personal and commercial, in the context of resolving claims and providing fair compensation to accident victims as vehicles become more autonomous.
While research suggests the adoption of autonomous driving technology will lead to fewer accidents, collisions that do occur will likely result in costlier repairs and raise difficult questions relating to driver and manufacturer liability, victim compensation and data collection. The general risks that come with vehicle ownership, autonomous or not, will remain, including risks related to weather and theft.
The Travelers Institute offers the following recommendations to facilitate an effective auto insurance system:
■ Develop a model state law relating to autonomous vehicle insurance that builds on the current state-based regulatory and oversight structure.
■ Require vehicle owners — including personal, ride-sharing and company-owned vehicles — to purchase and maintain adequate insurance.
■ Provide for sufficient coverage to account for the more expensive technology used in autonomous vehicles.
■ Establish strong cybersecurity requirements for autonomous vehicles, including appropriate data-sharing protocols.
■ Utilize insurers’ extensive consumer communication programs to help educate customers and the public on autonomous vehicle safety.
■ Ensure representation of the insurance industry in policymaking and stakeholder forums.
Travelers recommends the creation of a coalition of non-government stakeholders to make recommendations on insurance-related autonomous vehicle issues.