Insurers to work with tech firms on risks from drones, driverless cars

An aerosol drone during a training at LTFY drone training school on the outskirts of Beijing
An aerosol drone flies during a training at LTFY drone training school on the outskirts of Beijing, China August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

October 12, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) – The World Economic Forum is bringing insurers, tech firms and governments together to find ways to tackle risks from new technology such as drones and driverless cars, it said on Thursday.

Tech firms have moved fast to develop new products, but assigning liability – who is responsible for any accidents or losses – is not always clear, the WEF said in a report.

Losses from technology-related crime can also be huge. A cyber attack on the U.S. Northeast electrical grid, for example, could cause economic losses as high as $222 billion, according to research carried out for the specialist Lloyd’s of London insurance market.

“New risks are emerging, and existing risks are becoming more complex,” the WEF report, written with consultants Oliver Wyman, said.

“The insurance industry will struggle to use its old playbook to address these emerging risks.”

Industry and government officials will look to share data and develop industry standards to make it easier to spot and tackle new risks, and also seek to work out where liabilities lie, the WEF said in a statement.

The initiative will develop at its flagship annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in Jan 2018, it said.

“Things are moving very, very rapidly”, Inga Beale, chief executive of Lloyd’s, one of the industry participants, said.

“The only way we think the whole world can get to grips with what’s happening out there is if we all work together.”

Industry participants also include insurers Allianz <ALVG.DE> and Swiss Re <SRENH.S> and tech firms Cisco <CSCO.O> and Hitachi <6756.T>, along with senior officials from governments including the European Commission, India, Japan, United Kingdom and United States.

The WEF holds regional events around the world and publishes research on the global economy.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn. Editing by Jane Merriman)

  • BillVA

    Let it begin with whatever contracts willing parties agree to, and then let the courts rule.
    We have contract law and many years of precedent to rely upon.

    We also have many years of tort law and precedent.

  • No Mas

    I need a plow on the front of my truck for driverless cars that don’t follow the rules of the road.

  • No Mas

    Don’t increase my rates, because I object to drones and driverless cars.

  • conquest915

    If Microsoft writes the programing, it will give a whole new meaning to crashing! Literally!

    • Bill Jr

      Very Good! “You’re Not Authorized To Do That…Would You Like To Send An Error Report To Microsoft?”

  • turnipweed

    What could possibly go wrong with driverless cars and drones?

    • phasegen

      The government making them a requirement, and still making you pay liability insurance.

  • tj hessmon

    The problem at law is the how they handle liability of the responsibility people and corporations have to develop products which do not possess inherit design issues which could bring harm to humans. Those introducing technology and products have responsibility under the laws related to negligence, which is known as the duty of care.
    Vehicles which are not guided continually by humans would fall under Negligence in most countries. This means that designers and suppliers of technology would have had to address every single risk related to their product and making provision for those risks which are considered severe or catastrophic to humans. To not perform an extreme level or risk assessment for products which do not possess human control, but which possess the ability to interact with humans, becomes a liability due to negligence.
    I
    nsurance companies, politicians, investors, product designers and manufacturers are attempting to figure out a pathway around negligence so they can introduce to the market, vehicles which have no humans as the responsible vehicle operator. Without a work around in the law, insurance companies will be left holding the bag so to speak, related to negligence. One can be certain that Insurance companies will not be comfortable with products which pose such as vast risk based upon negligence, no matter the supporting design data.
    This discussion is most likely where autonomous vehicles will find their greatest unmovable obstacle… Liability