Emerging risks in auto technology

Technology provides insurers with risks and opportunities that didn't exist five years ago. (Photo: iStock)

Technology is changing the way we interact with the world, whether it is newer and smarter vehicles, a greater ease of communication, or an increase in the data available to help companies better target their marketing towards consumers. The rewards of these technological leaps, however, also come with some rather large risks, or at the very least create issues that have yet to be addressed.

The auto insurance industry is as vulnerable to these risks as any other industry. However, here are three major trends in the auto insurance industry likely to be of concern in the coming months. Technology has the potential to disrupt the insurance industry in a short period of time and companies must determine how best to adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape and use it to their advantage.

Automated vehicle technology

Automated driving is a broad concept, encompassing a myriad of technologies, some currently in production and others still in the imaginations of the world’s top creative engineers. The concept of autonomous cars is constantly evolving and has not reached full automation. However, further development of automated functionalities is inevitable.

While there are many benefits to automation, the technology is advancing faster than the legal and regulatory environments that govern it. Are insurers prepared for the impact of automated driving technology on the auto insurance industry?

One of the major benefits of automated vehicle technology is its ability to reduce the frequency and severity of auto accidents. This benefit will impact both the need for liability insurance and the number of claims submitted under insurance policies. As these technologies become mainstream, the personal lines auto insurance industry is projected to shrink by as much as 60 percent. A wholesale reevaluation of what is covered under auto insurance policies will be needed long-term. More immediately, insurers will be forced to address how automated technologies impact discounts, underwriting, apportionment of liability and claims handling procedures.

Another concern involves its propensity to be hacked. New technology creates unique cyber vulnerabilities that are unprecedented in the auto industry. The data connections and sensors critical to automated driving technology open the door for hackers to conduct cyberattacks that can compromise the security of the data collected, as well as the safety and operation of the vehicle itself.

Attacks that threaten the integrity of a vehicle’s safety operations pose a significant risk to personal safety, but interception of the data collected by the vehicles presents an equally significant economic risk. Who is responsible for accidents that are caused when a vehicle is hacked? Is it the driver, the manufacturer of the vehicle, or just the hacker? Will insurance coverage be modified to cover cyberattacks? If so, under what circumstances? These hypothetical questions are largely unanswered at the moment, but as the technology emerges, insurance companies will be forced to address them.

[Source:-pROPERTY cAsuaality]