Risk pooling has always been a tough sell – it is hard for the majority of members who are providing the pool of funds for the few that do suffer an event to focus on the value of the peace of mind purchased by the premium. For the consumer, insurance is a pretty remote value proposition (as they no doubt say in “sales”), a grudge purchase that is infrequent. These issues do feed through to reputational issues for the industry and a long term project to inform the public about the value of insurance was recommended by the Insurance Fraud Taskforce last year. This is a very big project and changing attitudes and understanding will take years and will no doubt be set back by every piece of poor press that so easily re-enforces misinformed stereotypes.
Today I read about a new Amazon product – “Amazon Dash”. The article was accompanied by a photo of a bathroom, specifically focussing on a roll of toilet paper. Intrigued I read on. Far from the mental image this conjured up for me, the article was about a unique product which enables the user to hit, what I would term, a “panic button.” This does not summon up a fully clad armed response team but rather a delivery of toilet rolls, dish washer powder or washing detergent, all within 24 hours.
Each Amazon Dash button is linked to a specific product and there are (according to the article) 150 products available. The user purchases the button and away they go. I am told this has worked well in the USA and is on its way to be launched in the UK.
The Government’s consultation about compulsory insurance arrangements associated with fully automated driving remains open until 9 September. It states that: “Our proposal is to extend compulsory motor insurance to cover product liability to give motorists cover when they have handed full control over to the vehicle (ie they are out-of-the-loop). And, that motorists (or their insurers) rely on courts to apply the existing rules of product liability – under the Consumer Protection Act, and negligence – under the common law, to determine who should be responsible.”
This blog looks at whether a ‘product liability’ insurance offering could meet the policy aims of ensuring (a) use of vehicles continues to be covered by insurance and (b) claims by injured road users continue to be adequately protected and handled quickly.
With the UK release of the new Pokemon Go mobile app, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has issued a warning that users “do not drive whilst playing the game, and are aware of their surroundings at all times.” For those unfamiliar with the ‘augmented reality’ game, it allows users, via their smartphone, to ‘capture’ digital creatures at various real locations.
News of the first reported driver fatality involving an automated vehicle (while in self-driving mode) has broken in the USA.
Whilst understandably this is causing wide concern, and much comment, it is too early to reach firm conclusions about causes and consequences and any suggestion that this is or could be a “watershed moment” for automated and autonomous vehicles will be premature.
It does however serve to remind us that the highly automated vehicles being developed today are not “driverless”; even if the technology involved is very sophisticated, it is still just a tool for us to use and it has limitations that we – as fallible humans – need to understand.
We are all aware that the world is becoming more connected. It is estimated that there will be around 26 billion internet connected devices worldwide by 2020 –a large proportion of which are related to health and healthcare. According to research – students are spending between 9 – 10 hours per day ‘engaged’ with their mobile device managing their banking, fitness and retail in addition to communication. If we are relying more and more on our devices to manage our lifestyle, including our health, what are the risks?
It’s no secret that technology is moving at a faster pace than ever before but are insurers able to keep pace with the emerging risks associated with the adoption of new technologies?
Households, vehicles and smart phones rely on new technology obtained from manufacturers abroad via lengthening supply chains and new legislation opens up potential liabilities for all involved. One must question whether traditional policies and exclusions are fit for purpose.
Is there a potential risk for insurers as a result of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) bringing digital content into the mainstream of product liability? Alternatively, does it create an opportunity for insurers to develop a new insurance product?
Mankind can’t resist a challenge. As with the first landing on the Moon, it will be the same for driverless cars – we will get there eventually.
Where scientists, engineers and explorers conquer, however, big business and consumerism will follow and these days that also means internet reviews and YouTube videos. The court of public opinion and confidence has to be continuously satisfied – amply illustrated by one recent review of a driverless experience that said “…it seems that the future of driving is equal parts glee and terror”.
“We are liable for everything the car is doing in autonomous mode… If you are not ready to make such a statement, you shouldn’t try to develop an autonomous system.” So says Håkan Samuelsson, CEO and President of Volvo. A confident statement, also made in similar terms by Google and Mercedes-Benz recently.
The adoption of such a conciliatory attitude could lead to prompt resolution of liability disputes when motor accidents occur, and save insurers substantial sums in settling claims and effecting prompt recovery of losses. But the road to hell (or, in this context, court) is paved with good intentions.