The Road to Insuring Self-Driving Cars Will Be Long and Winding

By: | October 23, 2018 • 2 min read
Dave Braun is Vice President of EV Domain and Mobility for Nationwide. He currently leads a team responsible for driving execution of several Strategic Initiatives for the Office of the President, including the impact of emerging vehicle technology on the insurance industry and Nationwide. He can be reached at [email protected]

The future is now. The auto industry is changing more than ever before, and soon cars will be driving us, thanks to new technology.

The acceleration of change is happening faster than most of us realize. While autonomous vehicles promise enhancements in safety and consumer mobility, they are also bringing new risks for consumers and transforming the auto insurance industry as well as transforming how those risks will be covered.

Despite the current safety concerns, technology is advancing and we are moving closer to the point in time when self-driving vehicles will become available to the public. While we wait for the deployment of autonomous vehicles, new cars are being built with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which include features like forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

As more vehicles with these features hit the road, they will dramatically decrease the frequency of rear-end collisions. However, we know that when accidents do occur, they will be much more expensive to repair due to the cost of the new technology.

Whether it be through self-driving fleets or tractor-trailers moving goods from warehouses to retailers, or high-flying drones delivering packages to your doorstep, the commercial transportation and mobility system that we know today will look very different a decade from now.

Over the long-term, we anticipate fewer accidents and increased use of ride-sharing and mobility services. This shift in consumer mobility will cut the number of vehicles per household in half by 2050. And, fewer personally owned vehicles on the roads being replaced by high-tech shared vehicles also means fewer accidents.

Auto insurers are working to embrace these new norms to keep auto insurance available, affordable and relevant. Insurance carriers that can accurately price for these new risk factors will be able to better serve policyholders’ needs at a fair price for everyone.

Since 2011, Nationwide has collected more than 2.5 billion miles of anonymous driving data from the nearly 1.3 million vehicles. That data has helped shape the ability to better understand the impact of driving behaviors as vehicle systems evolve.

For commercial insurance needs, the increased implementation of driver-assisted technology will also have a visible impact on the traditional freight transportation system. Whether it be through self-driving fleets or tractor-trailers moving goods from warehouses to retailers, or high-flying drones delivering packages to your doorstep, the commercial transportation and mobility system that we know today will look very different a decade from now.

These and many more questions are on the horizon as are the challenges faced by an insurance industry that wants to make good on its commitment to strong claims-paying ability and consumer protection.

Change is here, and many more changes are coming fast. We and our competitors will be hard at work to understand what it means to our industry and for customers, while continuing to vigilantly pursue safety improvements.

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]