The autonomous car: Risks and opportunities for the re/insurance industry

Autonomous cars have recently been identified by our emerging risk specialists as a development that may pose a significant challenge to the re/insurance industry (see case study on “new forms of mobility” in the 2013 Corporate Responsibility Report, page 28). A two-day conference, organised by the Centre for Global Dialogue, sought to stimulate the debate on this topic, by bringing together manufacturers, technology producers, lawyers and road safety experts.

Until recently, cars have evolved incrementally in appearance and capability, and the fundamental model of the driven car has changed very little. The new technologies that are already on the market are designed to assist drivers but, in future, they may actually take over from them, making cars autonomous. Almost all major car manufacturers are working on such prototypes, so this is not the stuff of science fiction.

The speed with which autonomous cars will spread depends on a number of factors, such as consumer preferences, legal environments and data security. But questions surrounding insurance and insurability will also play a crucial role; what is certain is that the car insurance market will change and that insurers will need to be flexible in their product offerings. We will continue to work with our clients and partners to keep abreast of the challenges and opportunities created by the arrival of the autonomous car.

Jayne Plunkett holding a presentation on a stage (photo)

Jayne Plunkett, our Head Casualty Underwriting Reinsurance, personally addresses the two-day conference at Rüschlikon on “the autonomous car”. This is an important topic for us and the industry, because the technology will create significant challenges as well as new opportunities for re/insurers.