Travelers: Insurers to play "critical role" in emerging autonomous vehicles market

Company calls for a uniform insurance framework that addresses all potential issues

Travelers: Insurers to play "critical role" in emerging autonomous vehicles market


By Lyle Adriano

Self-driving car technology may not be perfect at the moment, but Travelers believes that insurers should be playing a “critical role” as early as now in order to prepare for the eventual emergence of fully autonomous automobiles.

The insurer’s public policy division, Travelers Institute, recently released an updated version of its 2018 position paper, “Insuring Autonomy: How Auto Insurance Will Lead Through Changing Risks.” The update reaffirms Travelers’ belief that the auto insurance industry will serve a pivotal role as legislators, regulators, and society adjust to innovations in transportation.

In its updated position paper, Travelers is calling for the industry to come together to establish a universal system for managing and regulating insurance for autonomous vehicles.

“The autonomous vehicle sector has seen significant advancements in recent years, but a uniform insurance framework, as outlined in our latest paper, is a critical component to the future of transportation,” said Travelers Institute president and Travelers Companies executive vice president of public policy Joan Woodward.

Woodward added that insurers such as Travelers have risk management expertise and a deep understanding of compensation systems – all of which add “significant value” in the creation of the framework.

Travelers’ paper offers guidance to facilitate an effective auto insurance system, which includes:

  • Ensuring that any proposed legal and regulatory framework governing autonomous vehicles includes provisions related to auto insurance, which should continue to be the primary compensation method for claimants.
  • Encouraging coordination among local, state and federal lawmakers and regulators, on top of seeking input from all constituents to ensure a consistent and rational regulatory system that addresses all potential issues.
  • Requiring vehicle owners to purchase and maintain adequate insurance for their autonomous vehicles.
  • Developing a model state law relating to autonomous vehicle insurance, which builds on current state-based regulatory and oversight structure.
  • Ensuring representation of the insurance industry in policymaking and stakeholder forums.

“The existing auto insurance structure, both personal and commercial, is designed to resolve claims and provide fair compensation to crash victims quickly and effectively,” said Klein. “As long as we adapt policies and regulations to address the evolving risks, auto insurance as we know it today can – and will – meet society’s needs in an increasingly autonomous world.”

The position paper, as well as the current state of the autonomous vehicle market, will be discussed in a webinar hosted by Travelers Institute and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association on January 27, 2021. The webinar is free and open to the public; interested parties may sign up through the Travelers Institute website.

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