Autonomous Vehicle

Why You Should Work with a Broker to Find Autonomous Vehicle Coverage

January 29, 2018

By: Chris Moulder, CPCU, ARM – Vice President, Broker, Worldwide Facilities – Atlanta

While completely self-driving cars are still a long way from being commercially available, autonomous features are already upending the risk landscape for car manufacturers.

Today, customers can buy cars equipped with an array of advanced driver assistance features such as lane-change assist systems, collision avoidance, parking assistance, blind spot sensors, drowsy-driver alert systems, and more. Because the systems take a more active role in driving, they take some of the culpability from drivers in the event of a crash—and put more of it on manufacturers.

Whereas once the main parties in a crash were usually the drivers involved, today’s partially-autonomous vehicles often carry systems from multiple manufacturers. Software adds another layer of risk, making cars increasingly vulnerable to hackers. Any single car may carry technologies from several different companies, and sorting out how each system and party contributed to a crash is becoming increasingly complex.

In addition, as manufacturers test new technologies in real-world environments, they expose other drivers and pedestrians to added risk. Finding coverage for testing activities during the R&D process is another challenge manufacturers are facing now, even though fully self-driving cars are not currently commercially available.

All of this makes finding insurance coverage for manufacturers who research, develop, and test self-driving technologies a major challenge. Working with an experienced wholesale broker is often a necessity in finding coverage that truly addresses the risks and challenges involved. Here are a few reasons why insurance agents should rely on a wholesale broker to help them find autonomous vehicle coverage.

Access to markets

This insurance specialization is still very new, and markets are often unwilling to take a chance on new, less well-understood industries and risks. An experienced wholesale insurance broker will know which markets will offer coverage in automatic vehicle testing and development.

Ability to create custom coverage

Because this sector is still taking shape, insurance markets are learning how to craft coverage for it. This means there are no “off-the-shelf” policies for manufacturers. Getting coverage right often means weaving together auto liability, product liability, inland marine, and other commercial coverages to fill all the gaps.

A thorough understanding of the technology

Autonomous vehicle technology is rapidly changing. A wholesale broker who specializes in this area will have an up-to-date knowledge of the technologies on the market, how they behave and how they change the risk scenario in accidents, as well as current regulatory frameworks and ongoing trends.

Even without fully autonomous vehicles on the market, there is a growing need for insurance coverage that addresses new complexities and technologies. Insurance agents who work with a knowledgeable wholesale broker in this area will have an edge in placing these challenging risks for clients in this sector.

For more information, contact Chris Moulder at cmoulder@wwfi.com or (678) 736-6723. Read and download Chris’s white paper “Autonomous Vehicle Insurance: At the Intersection of Manufacturer & Individual Risk.”

 

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