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Travelers calls for autonomous vehicle insurance to mirror current structure

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Utilizing existing automotive insurance infrastructure will be key to providing coverage to the newly emerging class of autonomous vehicles, according to a white paper released Tuesday by The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of Travelers Cos. Inc.

“Insuring Autonomy: How Auto Insurance Can Adapt to Changing Risks” says the industry should tap resources that are aligned with consumer interests to transfer risk in the world of autonomous vehicles.

“Leveraging the current auto insurance structure as the primary risk transfer mechanism in a new AV world allows for speed, fairness and efficiency from the consumer’s perspective,” the white paper said. “The existing insurance structure is designed to — and indeed does — make vehicle owners whole and quickly and efficiently compensate accident victims for both bodily injury and property damage. In addition, most vehicle owners are familiar and comfortable with the existing insurance structure.”

This includes distribution systems as well as underwriting activities, all of which will be adapted to the evolving needs of an autonomous vehicle regime, the paper said.

The emergence of autonomous vehicles has raised many questions about data collection, the paper says, and the development of standards will help sort out answers.

“AVs present new questions and opportunities with respect to data collection and management,” the white paper said. “While Travelers is agnostic with respect to who develops and imposes data management requirements, Travelers supports standardization (via legislation or regulation, for instance) of data collection, sharing, storage and security requirements.”

Insurance industry participation in the development of policy will also be important, the paper said.

“Travelers supports the creation of an expert advisory board or committee to address data and cybersecurity issues, including how these issues are related and how they can effectively be addressed together. Insurer representation on any such body would be essential,” the paper said.

“It’s important that the insurance industry play a central role in policymaking discussions to develop a uniform legal and regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles,” Michael Klein, executive vice president and president of personal insurance at Travelers, said in a statement issued with the report. “Ensuring that a clear risk transfer mechanism is in place will help facilitate the development of autonomous vehicles and the improved safety we expect they will bring to our roads.”