Allstate admits driverless cars could gut the company

Allstate admits driverless cars could gut the company | Insurance Business

Allstate admits driverless cars could gut the company
One of the nation’s leading auto insurance providers has admitted it doesn’t know how it would survive a widespread proliferation of driverless cars.

In its 2015 annual report, filed Friday, Allstate addressed increased interest in both telematics and autonomous vehicles with caution.

“Telematics devices used have been identified as a potential means for an unauthorized person to connect with a vehicle’s computer system resulting in theft or damage, which could affect our ability to successfully use these technologies,” the carrier said in its report. “Other potential technological changes, such as driverless cars or technologies that facilitate ride or home sharing, could disrupt the demand for our products from current customers, create coverage issues or impact the frequency or severity of losses, and we may not be able to respond effectively.”

The company’s 2014 report expressed no such reservations. In fact, Allstate Chief Executive told shareholders that autonomous vehicles and other emerging technology actually represented a “tremendous opportunity” for Allstate, given its “market position, customer relationships, capabilities and financial resources.”

Driverless cars are still few in number – and relatively high in accident rates – but the technology is rapidly advancing, and many analysts predict the technology will be seen on the roads in large numbers by 2025.

The auto insurance industry, unsurprisingly, stands to lose greatly.

Yet few carriers have taken action to adjust their business models, a late 2015 survey from KPMG shows.

The report found few carriers had taken action, but not because they doubted the possible ramifications, but because most believe the change will happen far into the future, if at all.

It found 84% of executives don’t expect autonomous vehicles to have a significant impact on their businesses until 2025 while 42% expect a significant impact in 6-10 years.

Many executives also believed the government would slow the introduction of autonomous vehicles, which KPMG says may explain why the insurance executives see a more distant effect on their business.

However, the views were not in line with KPMG’s own stance, with the report’s authors stating that change would happen faster than most in the insurance industry think.

“No one has a crystal ball that can predict the future, but we are convinced that a period of unprecedented change has begun,” Jerry Albright, principal in KPMG’s Actuarial and Insurance Risk practice said.

“The disruption of autonomous vehicles to the entire automotive ecosystem will be profound.”