Thursday, 31 May 2018 09:35

Insurance Hearing Shows Need for Autonomous Vehicles Data Access

Written by Brittney Kohler, CitiesSpeak


On May 23, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the impact of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on the future of insurance. 

In light of the Senate’s American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act (AV START Act), this hearing brings another critical perspective on AVs.

For cities, the hearing yielded two crucial takeaways on the issue’s policy future.

First, data access is not guaranteed in the AV START Act for the car owner or even the insurer, yet insurers are required by law to price by risk, making it critical to insurance companies. Second, the insurance sector expects shifts in how cars are insured and new risk models in order to evolve with AV technology.

Chairman Sean Duffy (R-WI) presided over a panel of witnesses who are directly involved in the growth of AV technology and its impacts on insurance. The panel was made up of David Carlson, a U.S. manufacturing and automotive practice leader at Marsh and McLennan; Ryan Gammelgard, counsel to the public policy resource group at State Farm; Sam Geraci, the vice president of strategy for American Family Mutual Insurance Company; Ian Adams, assistant vice president at the R Street Institute; and Jack Gillis from the Consumer Federation of America. The panel was teed up to answer important questions about the safe and effective rollout of AVs and what this new technology might change.

Panel members expressed that data---in particular, crash data---will be necessary in order to do their jobs and provide an accurate risk-based assessment of the vehicles for their policies. Gammelgard spoke of the importance of data for the insurance industry, for “by law [they] match price to risk” and if they are not given access to the data they “might not be able to do so.”

Adams echoed this concern, stating that “insurers will need to be able to access data related to autonomous vehicle operation if they hope to create products that meaningfully reflect risk.” Gammelgard added that while data “is critical for liability determinations,” it is also “important [to the public] in determining the safety and reliability of technology.”

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