Who Will Insure Self-Driving Cars?

Posted on October 23, 2013

Google self-driving car

This past August, the online magazine TechCrunch had a salacious headline for tech geeks and robotics fans: Google plans to sell 2,500 driverless cars to Uber, a company similar to a taxi-service that connects cars with passengers.

The story seemed like tech and auto industry gold, as Google has been instrumental in developing self-driven cars and has a significant financial stake in Uber.

While many bloggers and reporters picked up on the story as a watershed mark in the development of driverless cars, there was a small hitch: The story was dated ten years in the future.

“People are dense, I guess,” TechCrunch author Ryan Lawler explained to the Poynter journalism training center about the mix-up.

But the possibility of driverless cars hitting the market sooner rather than later got us at Online Auto Insurance thinking, “Who will insure those cars once they hit the road?”

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Consumer Advocates Having Harder Time Affecting Insurance Laws and Regulation

Posted on October 15, 2013

money and powerIn Washington D.C., as well as state capitals around the country, consumer advocates say it’s getting harder to overcome spending by insurance interest groups and get their policy messages to the public.

There aren’t numbers readily available that show how much insurance spending has increased in state capitals, but the numbers at the federal level show an insurance industry stepping up. Insurance spending — which includes the auto, health and life sectors — on federal-level campaign contributions given by individuals has increased from $21.4 million in 2004 to $29 million in 2012. Meanwhile, other dollars flow from trial lawyers and associated groups with a direct stake in car insurance policies.

While the fact that money helps insurance and other interests gain access to politicians isn’t illegal, surprising, or even new, watchdog groups say the influx in political spending is making it more and more difficult to oppose legislation and other regulations that may hurt the consumer.

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Researchers Say Insurers Don’t Need GPS to Find Out Where You Drive in Tracking Programs

Posted on September 23, 2013

The largest auto insurance companies are racing to offer driver-tracking discount programs in a high-stakes effort to lure new policyholders and retain existing ones. These programs, such as Progressive’s Snapshot or Allstate’s Drivewise, require installing tracking devices into the vehicles of policyholders. The trackers monitor driving habits, including speed and distance driven, along with turning and stopping habits.

The upside for safe drivers is the companies offer discounts for good road behavior. Most recently, Allstate boasted average savings of 14% for policyholders that participated in Drivewise. Meanwhile, in 2012, Progressive announced it was able to draw conclusions about drivers’ habits that could save the company money as it alters actuarial practices to reflect the new data.

Privacy has always been a concern with these programs, even though most of insurers stress that they don’t collect GPS data. Here’s what Progressive’s Snapshot FAQ says on the matter:

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Obesity and Car Accidents: A Concern for Insurers?

Posted on July 29, 2013

Overweight scale

David Crestman is a big guy. At 6 feet 5 inches and more than 350 pounds, the former high school football player has trouble making it up and down the flight of stairs of his San Diego apartment.

“The cartilage in my right knee is almost gone,” the 29-year-old said. “Like, it used to be there, but it feels like the only thing between the bones is a paper-plate.”

Clinically, Cresman is morbidly obese. The extra weight, along with years of playing football when he was younger, has led to his knee problems. Even though he’s relatively young, Crestman rarely goes out because of the pain.

“I only drive to work and back, and sometimes over to the store,” he said.

Like many other morbidly obese drivers, Crestman doesn’t wear a seat belt on those short jaunts.

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