Driverless Cars & Insurance?

Driverless Cars and Insurance Issues…
For those eager to try an autonomous vehicle, the future is now. Earlier this year, the Canadian province of Ontario announced it will take applications for driverless test car licenses, providing there is a licensed driver to take over if necessary. This raises a question: How will the insurance industry handle automated vehicle coverage?

Underwriting: Currently, an insured’s accident history, motor vehicle record and the average number of miles driven are used to price vehicle insurance. But soon the self-driving features of a particular model may become important factors influencing insurance prices.

“Black boxes”: As well, monitoring driver activity may become the norm. Insurance companies currently offer policies based on driver behavior data gathered through telematics devices (black boxes.) While not in wide use now, these may become more usual as insurers push for increased monitoring of driverless cars.

Costs: Theoretically, the number of accidents should fall as automation increases. With human error taken out of the equation, the result should be reduced cost. Fewer accidents could mean cheaper rates for collision and other types of insurance.

Actually, costs may shift. Manufacturers and suppliers may be held more liable for accidents due to product failure.

Complex parts will be expensive to replace.

Repair costs may increase.

These new complications may make it difficult to ascertain if consumers will see a reduction in costs overall.

The Ontario initiative should yield not only accident stats, but also important insights into the public perception of driverless vehicles. Because, this, too, remains to be seen.


Local Produce…Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You?
Farming

Imagine craving an apple and walking a few steps to a neighboring apple orchard.

Imagine always having immediate access to your favorite fruits and vegetables.

Imagine watching your produce transition from seed to your table.

It’s happening now across North America as thousands of locavores take the concept of locally grown food to the next level: “agrihoods” – planned communities where homes are built around a functioning farm – are mushrooming across North America.

There are currently around 200 agrihoods in the United States, including the 160-acre Agritopia in Phoenix, the 1,000-acre Serenbe in Georgia, and The Cannery, a 100-acre project located near Davis, California, that opened in August 2015.

And in Canada, an agrihood of 129 homes is currently being built near Vancouver, B.C. In most cases, homes in the agrihood are high end; at The Cannery, they range from the mid-$400,000s to more than $1 million.

“The foodie generation has come of age,” says Ed McMahon, a resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, in Bloomberg News. “The mainstream development community has come to think of these as a pretty good way to build a low-cost amenity that people seem to like and that also adds authenticity.”

Agrihoods develop a sense of community, proponents say, as they tend to host neighborhood food-related events, such as wine tastings and pop-up restaurants featuring agrihood produce.

They also provide an unbeatable experience.

As one agrihood resident told the Los Angeles Times: “To get your hands dirty with growth … I think it’s good for the soul.”


The Good Old Backpack Goes High Tech
Laptop

OK, so we all know what a backpack is: a cloth or leather sack with over-the-shoulder straps that you carry on your back.

Traditionally, it carried provisions when you hiked, extra clothes when you traveled, and books when you headed for the library. But that is so yesterday.

These days, whether it’s a personal power source or a svelte sound system, backpacks have gone high tech.

In a recent New York Times article, Eric A. Taub wrote, “With people juggling multiple digital devices that constantly need charging, backpack manufacturers have sensed a market opportunity.

Some new backpacks are specifically designed not only to protect our smartphones, tablets, laptops, headphones, and game players, but also to recharge them and track their whereabouts.”

Some of the latest backpacks feature a battery that can recharge several smartphones or tablets at once, apps to monitor battery status, and an incorporated warning system should you walk away without yours.

Backpack sharers can buy a customizable unit that accommodates each user’s charging idiosyncrasies.

And if the plain old backpack needs to go upscale, one company produces a model that transforms into a briefcase or messenger bag.

Oh, and for environmentalists, there’s a solar-powered backpack too!


There Are Ways to Save on Insurance: Just Ask
There are easy ways to save on insurance. Your insurance agent can be an invaluable help in finding ways you can save that are appropriate to your individual situation. So contact your agent at renewal time to discuss what may have changed in your life and how to save on insurance. Discounts are available for all policy types. The bottom line: just ask!

  1. What discounts are available?

    Multipolicy

    Many insurers reward consumers who have multiple policies with them, sometimes saving you up to 10%.

    Long-term customer

    This discount is usually applied automatically once you’re eligible. However, do ask your agent if you’re eligible and if the discount was added.

    Affinity

    You can usually save 3% to 7% as a policyholder belonging to certain organizations, companies, colleges, etc. You don’t buy insurance from or through the organization, but from your insurance agent. Each insurer has its own affinity list; ask your agent about your insurer’s.

  1. How to pay – and save

    When you are billed monthly, you may end up paying “convenience” or “installment” fees. Paying annually or semiannually eliminates these fees and can add up to a considerable saving. If you do want to pay monthly, opt for electronic fund transfers (EFTs) or electronic checks to reduce or eliminate fees. Some insurers also offer paperless discounts, so have bills and documents sent via email. Being green can save green!
  1. Work with your insurance agent

    Dealing with an agent instead of directly with the insurance company is an important savings tip. Why? Your agent’s loyalty is to you – the client. It’s his or her job to find you the best insurance for your needs. If a policy isn’t right, your agent has leverage with your insurer to make it right. But most importantly, your agent knows you personally – which is more than you can say for the stranger at the end of a 1-800 number.
March 17th, 2016 by Lightship Insurance