Risk Insider: Martin Frappolli

The Future of Motoring

By: | March 15, 2017 • 3 min read
Martin J. Frappolli, CPCU, FIDM, AIC, is Senior Director of Knowledge Resources at The Institutes, and editor of the organization's new “Managing Cyber Risk” textbook. He can be reached at [email protected]

The advent of driverless cars on demand, such as an autonomous Uber, might reduce the total number of cars on the road by 90 percent. Take that statistic and imagine that you are Ford, Toyota, CarMax or Midas.  You have a big chunk of a big market.  What happens to your financial future if the market shrinks by 90 percent?

However, even as the car count falls, the total number of miles driven may actually increase.  When human error is removed from motoring, accidents are eliminated and traffic jams minimized with the choreography of movement by autonomous vehicles. Passengers may willingly accept longer journeys and commutes because the ride is smooth, stress-free and presents no demand to stay engaged with the road.

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How many miles do you put on your car annually? The average American drives less than 15,000 miles each year; our cars are idle most of the time. The main reason that autonomous cars on demand will permit such a reduction in car count is that autonomous vehicles will be in much more frequent use.

A car will pick you up and take you to work, then pick up some children to go to school, then take some seniors to the mall, then deliver some packages for Amazon.

By some estimates, the future driverless Lyft car or ZipCar will cover ground at a rate approaching 300,000 miles each year. Without some dramatic advance in the durability of vehicle engines and suspension parts, an autonomous on-demand car will be used up in less than a year.

What is the downstream implication for car insurers?  At first blush, it looked grim.

So for carmakers, the total product demand may not change much at all. One might expect, though, that the shell of the car — doors, hood, trunk — might be reclaimed and outfitted with new power trains and suspensions, and put back on the road.

What is the downstream implication for car insurers?  At first blush, it looked grim. Auto insurance is, after all, primarily about financial compensation for damage resulting from human error. When you remove human error, the accident rate should plummet. When you reduce the car count by 90 percent, it would seem that the total market size also shrinks dramatically.

However, if the annual miles for each vehicle is 300,000 instead of 15,000, the exposure is dramatically larger. And for the transition period when the roads will be shared by cars with human operators and autonomous cars (whether owned individually or part of an on-demand fleet), collisions won’t entirely vanish.

In the long run, it’s all very promising for human safety, convenience and for the environment; cars can be made lighter and smaller when there is no need to make them crash-proof. Established carmakers may have time to adjust as we move from an ownership model to an on-demand streaming model, much as consumers have already done with music and movies.

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But at some future point, human error will be eliminated from motoring. We will look back on the first 125 years of the automobile as a brutal and primitive time, and wonder how we endured the carnage inflicted by human operators.

Auto insurers need to prepare to transition to that future. Accidents will be rare, and it’s probable that autos will be owned less by individuals and more by commercial firms operating fleets of autonomous cars on demand.

Not only will exposures be dramatically different, but all the data and skills we now use to underwrite auto will be obsolete. No crystal ball has a perfect vision of this future, but every auto insurer should be studying and planning for it.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

Wawa’s Director of Risk Management knows that harnessing data and analytics will be key to surviving the rapid pace of change that heralds new risk exposures.
By: | July 27, 2017 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first job was at the age of 15 as a cashier at a bakery. My first professional job was at Amtrak in the finance department. I worked there while I was in college.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

A position opened up in risk management at Wawa and I saw it as an opportunity to broaden my skills and have the ability to work across many departments at Wawa to better learn about the business.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

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The advancements in analytics are a success for the industry and offer opportunities for the future. I also find value in the industry focus on emerging and specialty risks. There is more alignment with experts in different industries related to emerging and specialty risks to provide support and services to the insurance industry. As a result, the insurance industry can now look at risk mitigation more holistically and not just related to traditional risk transfer.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Developing the talent to grow with the industry in specialization and analytics, but to also carry on the personal connections and relationship building that is a large part of this industry.

Nancy Wilson, director, quality assurance, risk management and safety, Wawa Inc.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

I have had successes at all of the RIMS events I have attended. It is a great opportunity to spend time with our broker, carriers and other colleagues.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

I think the biggest challenge facing most companies today is related to brand or reputational risk. With the ever-changing landscape of technology, globalization and social media, the risk exposure to an organization’s brand or reputation continues to grow.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

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The changing consumer demands and new entrants into an industry are concerning. This is not necessarily something new but the frequency and speed to which it happens today does seem to be different. I think that is only going to continue. Companies need to be prepared to evolve with the times, and for me that means new risk exposures that we need to be prepared to mitigate.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

I try to be optimistic about most things. I think the economy ebbs and flows for many reasons and it is important to always keep an eye out for signs of change.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

I am fortunate to have opportunities professionally that make me proud, but I have to answer this one personally. I have two children ages 12 and 9 and I am so proud of the people that they are today. They both are hardworking, fun and kind. Nothing gives me a better feeling than seeing them be successful. I look forward to more of that.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

This is really hard as there are too many favorites. I do prefer books to movies, especially if there is a movie based on a book. I find the movie is never as good. I have multiple books going at once and usually bounce back and forth between fiction and non-fiction.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

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I have eaten at a lot of different restaurants in many major cities but I would have to pick Horn O’ Plenty in Bedford, PA. It is a farm to table restaurant in the middle of the state. The food is always fresh and tastes amazing and they make me feel like I am at home when I am there. My family and I eat there often during our trips out that way.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

I do love a good cup of coffee (working at Wawa helps that). I also enjoy a good glass of wine (red preferably) on occasion.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Vacations aside, I do get an opportunity to travel for work and visit our food suppliers. The opportunities I have had to visit back to the farm level have been a very interesting learning experience. If it wasn’t for my role, I would have never been able to experience that.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

My husband, kids and I recently did a boot-camp-type obstacle course up in the trees 24 feet in the air. Although I had a harness and helmet on, I really put my fear of heights to the test. At the end of the two hours, I did get the hang of it but am not sure I would do it again.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The first people that come to mind are those who are serving our country and willing to sacrifice their own lives for our freedom.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

Every day is different and I have the opportunity to be involved in a lot of different work across the company.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

My husband and children have a pretty good sense of what I do, but the rest of my family has no idea. They just know I work for Wawa and sometimes travel.




Katie Siegel is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]