Why insurers should care about autonomous vehicles

Insurance has a key role in creating trust between companies and consumers when drastic changes happen in markets.

That was the message from Michael Klein, EVP and president of personal insurance for Travelers, in his opening keynote at Digital Insurance’s Dig | In conference in Austin. Called “Insuring Innovation,” the address focused specifically on the development of autonomous vehicles and the downstream effects on insurance and consumer comfort.

“Consumers question the use of technology due to just not knowing, and the idea of something going wrong,” Klein said. “Insurance can enable innovation because it helps deal with risk and uncertainty.

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Klein describes insurance as an “agent of progress,” -- it was introduced in case something went wrong and to assist. Though many believe the shift to autonomous vehicles will be dangerous, these will ultimately benefit society by reducing the number of accidents, injuries and lives lost, all while increasing access to transportation, he noted.

While three in four Americans report fear around driverless cars, “Don’t bet against technology,” Klein said, citing examples of doubt around the introduction of cars in the first place. Insurance will provide clarity for those questioning autonomous vehicles to be assured that when things go wrong, there will be resources for to help them, he added.

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