Insurers creating unmanned vessel products says IUA

An illustration of an unmanned ship concept. Credit: Rolls-Royce
An illustration of an unmanned ship concept. Credit: Rolls-Royce

Driverless ships and aviation drones face fewer barriers to adoption than driverless cars, according to London market underwriters.

The International Underwriting Association (IUA) released the results of a survey on developing technologies, which found that products for the cover of unmanned vessels are already being developed.

Respondents expressed concern about a lack of associated infrastructures for autonomous modes of transport, as well as cost, technological capability, public perception, and regulation. In each case, these barriers to adoption were thought to apply most significantly to driverless cars.

Underwriters are, however, preparing for the arrival of unmanned vessels with 80% of respondents believing they will be in widespread use within 10 years.

Daniel Fletcher, technology practice manager at Chubb Europe and chairman of the IUA’s Developing Technology Monitoring Group (DTMG), said, “Insurance companies are embracing new technologies and developing broad, wide-reaching cover for a range of different risks. The expansion of such products generally mirrors the rate of development for the technologies themselves.

“Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are currently the most widely used and this is reflected in the number of IUA members who stated in our survey that they are offering products in this area and, indeed, the geographical spread of cover. Autonomous vessels, however, could represent a significant potential growth area for the London market with a quarter of the companies responding to our poll stating that they are considering launching a product in this field.”

The IUA’s DTMG was established two years ago to examine how new technologies would effect various classes of insurance business. A series of questions were posed focusing on three key technologies: UAVs or drones, autonomous vehicles, and autonomous vessels. The survey sought to assess market expectations and concerns surrounding future coverage for each transportation method.

“A growing interest in the work of the IUA’s DTMG is also reflective of companies’ increased focus on these underwriting opportunities,” added Fletcher. “The group has been well supported by members and considers issues relevant to a wide range of business classes including aviation, cyber, casualty, liability, marine, and professional lines.”