By ANNMARIE GEDDES BARIBEAU
Last August marked the first injury-causing Google car ac- cident. This 16th crash, amid the more than two million miles the cars have traveled, shared one important factor with the others — they were all
caused by human error.
A shift in fault from drivers to
vehicles is just one factor that could
forever change the traditional automobile insurance industry. Other considerations, such as the potential risk of new
technologies and the exchange of lower
claim frequency for higher claim costs,
are also likely to torque the industry’s
Automated vehicles are no longer
the fodder of science fiction. Some technology companies and car manufacturers anticipate they will be commercially
available within the next five years.
These cars will have limits, said
Will Vehicles — Not Drivers —
Become the Center of Risk?
John J. Leonard, a roboticist and associate head of research for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT)
mechanical engineering department. “If
vehicles do become truly autonomous,”
he said, “they would likely require two to
It’s not too early for insurers to
study the potential risks and advan-
tages of robotic vehicles, said Michael
Stienstra, chair of the Casualty Actuarial
Society’s Automated Vehicles Task Force
and vice president of the actuarial de-
partment at ACE Private Risk Services.
The task force’s goal is to demonstrate the value casualty actuaries can
add to the public conversation about
these technological marvels. To quantify
their influence on auto insurers and
their customers, actuaries need to begin
examining the ambitious claims being
made by technology and vehicle manufacturing companies and to anticipate
future risks and advantages.