How Do Insurance Companies Prepare for Autonomous Future?

It’s clear that insurance companies will undergo a significant change once autonomous vehicles hit the road; but how exactly those firms will adapt is still unclear.

However, that doesn’t mean that insurance companies aren’t involved in the discussions over insuring the autonomous vehicles currently being tested on the roads, according to panelists at a Reuters Newsmakers event Tuesday, titled Self-driving cars: the Future of Autonomous Vehicles.

“I know certain insurance companies that are finally starting to think about it more seriously and work more closely with the ride startups, around the world,” Evangelos Simoudis, co-founder and managing director of Synapse Partners, said, adding that there are no easy answers.

One of the major issues facing startups, OEMs, and insurance companies is the issue of liability, with startups and OEMs possibly taking responsibility for some parts of the vehicle, according to Simoudis.

“I think the OEMs, whether it’s just a manufacturer or the parts suppliers of the brain, they will start taking some of these insurance responsibilities,” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Padmasree Warrior, chief executive of NIO U.S., who added that the data necessary for developing an insurance policy for AVs is still being collected from vehicles and shouldn’t be underestimated. NIO is a startup based in China, which is designing and developing high-performance, premium electric autonomous vehicles.

Some of that data includes real-life experiences gathered from self-driving prototypes tested on the roads today, Stephen Girsky, managing partner of VectoIQ said. But there also needs to be more data collected through simulations, he added.

“There needs to be some way to simulate what happens here to put a lot of miles on these systems before we know what they can do,” he said, adding, “And we can pick up all these edge cases, so to speak,” to better mold future insurance policies.

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