By: Luke Jones, Published on April 25, 2016 06:23 PM, Last Update on April 26, 2016 07:12 AM
The debate over self-driving vehicles continues in Ontario, with the province embracing autonomous technology and now figuring out how such vehicles will function on roads. At the Young Insurance Professionals of Toronto (YIPT) second yearly Speaker Panel Series, attendees heard about driverless vehicles and the impact they will have in Toronto and across Canada.
Self-driving vehicles are expected to arrive on forecourts in the next few years, with early non-fully autonomous examples potentially in showrooms in 2017. Ontario has embraced the technology, becoming the first Canadian province to allow driverless vehicles to be tested on public roads. That initiative has sparked a debate about autonomous vehicles in the country, while the insurance industry looks for ways to adapt to disruptive tech.
Barrie Kirk, co-founder and executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, said “You will see the first fully autonomous cars in showrooms by year 2020”. He was speaking at The Future of Insurance in the Age of Autonomous Vehicles panel, which was hosted at the Toronto Marriott Hotel.
The title of the panel is fitting considering the industry-wide discussion that is looking for ways the insurance market can adapt to driverless vehicles. It is widely thought that accident liability will be moved from the consumer to vehicle manufacturers, who could then be tempted to create their own insurance options.
The auto insurance industry in Ontario is aware of the threat and is working early to adapt its strategy to accommodate autonomous technology. It is good that the debate is being had before vehicles arrive on the market, and Chris Reid, director of strategy at Intact Financial said driverless vehicles will have a positive impact and insurance companies can learn to adapt.
“Without question, autonomous cars will bring a great social benefit in the form of reduced severity and frequency of claims,” added Chris Reid, director of strategy at Intact Financial Corporation. “But I don’t think this spells the end of personal lines insurance, as much as an evolution of carriers towards a different perspective on risk.”