At CES in Las Vegas we heard so much hype around the self-driving car and lounging around in our future vehicle while it takes us to work. While Audi was quick to squash the idea that we would be doing it soon (here), we met with a company to discuss the practicalities around autonomous vehicles and insurance.
Amlin is a company based in the UK providing commercial insurance and underwriting services to the insurance industry. If anyone was thinking about the future in the insurance industry then these were the guys. EFTM spoke to Adrian Britten, Global Communications Director at Amlin.
We asked whether autonomous vehicles make insurance companies excited or nervous and Amlin was quick to highlight that 85-90% of car accidents are caused by humans, you would love to think that all of that will vanish with autonomous cars. Audi recently commented in a similar fashion in that when ALL cars on the road are autonomous then yes the roads should be safer, with that said though, the transition to get there will be very long and if there is even one human controlled vehicle still on the road then the risk can remain very high.
While we are concerned about this, Amlin mentioned that autonomous machinery already exists around us “We already have computer support for other methods of transport, for example autopilots, air traffic control, mass transit systems. The difference here is that the shift to control by technology is more obvious to everyone”.
The question of liability is always a big one. If an accident happens today then the driver is in control and they are liable. What if the autonomous car is in an accident? Amlin believe the answer comes down to the product aka the car requiring liability coverage “The fundamental shift for the insurance industry is away from personal liability and towards product liability. Product liability for these new cars and the systems in which they operate will become hugely important. Given the size of the automotive insurance industry this is a major shift that we will have to negotiate”.
Currently if you have a car accident you will collect witness statements, driver statements and so on. In this future world the cars will need to be analyzed for the data into what happened. So we asked Amlin about how that would work, “what we do know is that there will be an enormous amount of data available to tell insurers what happened in the lead up to an accident – just like a black box in an aircraft… it will be for the different parties to examine these complex sources of data and establish the sequence of events and therefore where any liability may fall”. So, no point arguing in the street who was in the wrong, insurers will know.
We couldn’t help but notice that Amlin is the major sponsor for the Amlin-Andretti Formula-E team, we had to know about that partnership,”Formula-e is a hugely exciting development for motorsport. It enables Amlin to demonstrate our support for innovation and technology and the exciting future we believe that will provide. At the same time it allows us to engage in conversations about developments that the insurance industry can and should support and to raise topics that we believe are important for our industry and society”.
EFTM is looking forward to seeing the team continue their competitive streak on the track and in the insurance industry.