Industry News Details

Autonomous car insurance drives new opportunities Posted on : Aug 23 - 2021

In 2017, Kyle Vogt, the founder of GM-backed autonomous car company Cruise, promised that the startup would begin testing driverless vehicles in New York City by 2019. That didn’t come to pass — Cruise put the brakes on the pilot in August 2018 — but driverless cars have scaled significantly in the years since Vogt’s pronouncement. Last month, Ford and Argo AI announced they would work together to launch self-driving cars on Lyft’s ride-hailing network in Miami and Austin, Texas. Motional, a joint venture of Aptiv and Hyundai, plans to start testing autonomous vehicles in Los Angeles following a deployment in Downtown Las Vegas. And Intel’s Mobileye recently became among the first to pilot self-driving cars in New York City, beating rival Cruise to the punch.

As driverless cars inch toward reality — experts predict it could be as little as a decade before they’re widely available — figuring out how to insure them remains an unsolved challenge. One fundamental question is whether the individual owners of autonomous vehicles will need insurance at all. Liability could lie with manufacturers if accidents are determined to be caused by a flaw in self-driving cars’ designs.

Emerging market

Startups with new business models are emerging in anticipation of the challenge. Koop Technologies, which is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is developing what it calls an “API-powered” insurance platform for autonomous vehicles, robotics, and “machine-centric” risks. Koop collects data from autonomous vehicle and robotics companies and uses it for insurance underwriting, cost of risk, and claims handling, enabling developers, operators, and insurers to make potentially more informed risk transfer and pricing decisions.

“Koop handles one of the unintended consequences of using AI and machine learning to drive our cars: How do we insure these self-driving cars when no one is behind the wheel to ensure? What’s fascinating about our approach is that we have a product that allows us to collect autonomous vehicle data at scale with no extra hardware needed versus traditional telematics approaches,” Koop cofounder and CEO Sergey Litvinenko told VentureBeat via email. “With such a massive data collection, we’re able to aggregate collected datasets and deploy our machine learning model to dynamically price the cost of risk for autonomous vehicles while taking into account new risk factors attributable to those machines vs. human drivers.”

Koop claims it’s already partnered with large insurance carriers to develop special programs for autonomous vehicle and robotics clients. The momentum caught the eye of venture capital firm Ubiquity Ventures, which led the company’s $2.5 million seed funding found. View More